STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — New Penn State coach Bill O'Brien is turning his defense over to a veteran, well-traveled assistant with a national title on his resume.
Ted Roof was officially tabbed the Nittany Lions' defensive coordinator on Friday, leaving Central Florida a month after taking the same position with the Knights.
Roof was named Central Florida's defensive coordinator Dec. 8 after leaving Auburn following the regular season. He previously spent three seasons as the Tigers' defensive coordinator, including the 2010 national championship season.
Penn State also announced that South Carolina special teams coordinator John Butler would return to his native Pennsylvania and coach the secondary in Happy Valley.
O'Brien still plans to add a quarterbacks coach to fill his offensive staff. Otherwise, his defensive coaching staff is complete — and as expected it does not include veteran assistant Tom Bradley from former coach Joe Paterno's staff.
Bradley, the veteran assistant under former coach Joe Paterno, posted on his Twitter account that he finished packing up his office late Thursday: "Walked out the doors proud with a lot of great memories and friends and a better man."
An open recruiting contact period begins Saturday, a 16-day window in which the new coaches can try to shore up previous verbal commitments while trying to entice other high school prospects who might be intrigued by Penn State's new direction under O'Brien. He's finishing up his duties as offensive coordinator for the New England Patriots and the position coach for star quarterback Tom Brady.
O'Brien has committed to remaining with the Patriots through the NFL playoffs. New England hosts Denver in an AFC divisional game Saturday night.
Roof takes over as Linebacker U's new lead caretaker after having signed a three-year contract last year with Auburn paying him $500,000 annually. The Tigers finished ninth in rush defense in the 2010 national title season.
But a young unit was 78th in total defense (406 yards per game) and 79th in scoring (29.3 points per game) this past season before he departed for Central Florida.
Roof was also defensive coordinator at Minnesota in 2008, and spent six seasons at Duke. He became the Blue Devils' head coach in 2003, going 6-45 before departing in 2007. A Georgia Tech graduate, Roof's coaching career began as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1987.
O'Brien was offensive coordinator at Duke from 2005-6. O'Brien and Roof were also on the same staff at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001 under George O'Leary, the current head coach at Central Florida.
Butler, who is from Philadelphia, decided to move back to his home state after a year with the Gamecocks. He also coached outside linebackers at South Carolina.
O'Brien retained two veteran assistants under Bradley from the previous staff, defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden. Among the other newcomers to Happy Valley is assistant head coach Stan Hixon, the former receivers coach with the Buffalo Bills.
Bradley, though, won't be back. Penn State went 1-3 in a tough stretch to finish the season following Paterno's dismissal on Nov. 9.
Still, Penn State defenses under Bradley were typically one of the best in the Big Ten, if not the country. Bradley worked 33 seasons as an assistant coach at his alma mater, and even interviewed to become Paterno's permanent replacement, but his future became cloudy after Penn State tabbed O'Brien on Jan. 7.
In an emotional statement released after O'Brien was formally introduced, Bradley wished Penn State's new boss well and pledged his full support to the school.
"This is forever my home and forever my family. It is important that we come together to support our players and our university," Bradley said. "Now is the time to demonstrate that we are — and always will be — Penn State."