Checking in with GT DC Ted Roof

In early January, Georgia Tech hired Ted Roof as its defensive coordinator. Roof, who was Penn State’s defensive coordinator in 2012, has strong ties to Georgia Tech. He was a four-year letterwinner as a linebacker under coach Bill Curry from 1982-85. He is in the Georgia Tech Athletics Hall of Fame.

It’s not the first time he has returned to his alma mater.

Roof came to Georgia Tech in 1998 to serve as linebackers coach under head coach George O’Leary. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1999 and held that position for three years. This job was a chance for Roof to come home. A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Roof attended Central Gwinnett High School.

I caught up with the former Duke head coach recently to get his take on the job and how his homecoming has been so far. Here are the highlights of our conversation:

What made you decide to come back? Why was this the right fit for you again at this time?

Ted Roof: It’s a chance to come back home. It’s a place that I love, and that I’ve got some sweat equity in, and to be a part of Paul’s staff. It made a lot of sense for my family as well.

Can you describe your defensive philosophy for those who might not be familiar with it, and what you want to accomplish there?

TR: I want to put a product on the field that all the Tech people are proud of, with young men who do it the right way both on the field and off the field and in the community. That’s what we’re going to get done here. Our philosophy is we’ve got to be on the attack, got to be on the move, to try and create negative yardage plays to keep offenses behind the sticks. We’re going to have to do that and if we’re fortunate enough to stop the run, to make sure we can get to the quarterback and affect the quarterback. We’ve got to be aggressive and see if we can get guys behind the sticks and make teams predictable, which is a lot easier said than done.

Will you be changing from the 3-4?

TR: We’re going to be multiple. What’s gone on so far is I’m evaluating our players. I’ve coached in a lot of different schemes and I’m making sure that we’re putting our players in the best position to make plays so they can utilize the talent they have.

You kind of just touched on this, but, well, what have you been doing? Recruiting a lot I would imagine, but what has it been like since you started?

TR: It’s been 100 miles an hour between recruiting, the race to the finish line in recruiting, and at the same time getting to know our players and evaluating their talents and their abilities, and getting to know our staff. It’s been fast and furious, but that’s how it usually is in this business.

What was it about Paul Johnson that made you want to work with him and for him?

TR: I think he’s very genuine and sincere. Some of our core beliefs about football align with one another. I’ve always had great respect for him and certainly admire the job he’s done here and wanted to come be a part of it.

Can you believe how much the conference has changed since the last time you were in it? They are having their winter meetings this week and Louisville is at the table.

TR: Oh my gosh. You know, it hasn’t been that long, and the whole landscape of college football is changing. All the rumors were flying around in the early 90s how this was going to happen and then it died down for a while, and then we saw a little bit of it, and now, here it’s moving quick.

No question about it. Because it has changed so much, will your familiarity with the league still help you as much? It’s not like you usually line up against Pitt and Syracuse, but you know the coaches -- well, some of them.

TR: Most of them. I was in this league, as a player or a coach, but it has changed so much and so quickly, but I hope the familiarity will certainly help.

I think a lot of people were probably surprised to see you left Penn State, especially considering your relationship with Bill O’Brien. Was it simply a matter of coming home, or was it something more?

TR: It was just right. It was just the right decision. It was an opportunity at this point I just couldn’t pass up.