Chris Wilson takes over the defensive line duties at Georgia.
ATHENS — Georgia hired Mississippi State defensive coordinator Chris Wilson as its new defensive line coach Wednesday.
The 44-year-old Wilson replaces longtime Georgia assistant Rodney Garner, who took a job at Auburn, his alma mater.
Wilson was hired at Mississippi State in 2010 as the co-defensive coordinator and line coach, then took over as the sole coordinator the last two seasons. He also coached previously at Oklahoma and Colorado.
“Chris is a tremendous teacher, outstanding recruiter, mentor and brings a wealth of knowledge in coaching the defensive line to our program,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “He has an extensive background not only as a position coach but also as a coordinator and is a very solid fit with what we do on defense. “
Mississippi State ranked 16th nationally in scoring defense (19.7 points per game) in 2011, but slipped to 34th this past season (23.3) and struggled down the stretch. The Bulldogs lost five of their last six games, giving up an average of nearly 34 points. They closed the regular season with a 41-24 loss to rival Mississippi and fell to Northwestern 34-20 in the Gator Bowl.
So, Wilson is moving to Athens.
“Our family is excited to have the opportunity of coaching at one of the top institutions in college football,” he said in a statement. “I’m looking forward to being part of the Georgia program and putting all our energy and effort into winning games and championships, which I know is the goal of all those in the Georgia football family.”
FORMER JACKET ROOF LEAVES PENN STATE, COMES TO ATLANTA:
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Well-traveled coaching veteran Ted Roof is on the move again after leaving Penn State following one season as defensive coordinator for the same job at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.
A statement on Georgia Tech’s website Wednesday said Roof’s hiring could not become official until he completed a background check which would likely occur next week.
“I’ve known Ted for a long time and I’m excited that he has decided to come back to Georgia Tech,” Yellow Jackets coach Paul Johnson said.
Roof, a Georgia native, also served as defensive coordinator for the Yellow Jackets under George O’Leary for three seasons starting in 1999. Roof played linebacker at Georgia Tech in the 1980s under Bill Curry.
Penn State coach Bill O’Brien moved immediately to fill the void by promoting secondary coach John Butler to defensive coordinator. Roof’s departure comes as somewhat of a surprise after a successful season coordinating O’Brien’s defense in the wake of landmark NCAA sanctions on the program for the Jerry Sandusky molestation scandal.
O’Brien and Roof have known each other for a while — O’Brien also coached at Georgia Tech under O’Leary from 1995-2001. O’Leary is now coach at Central Florida.
“I am very appreciative of Ted’s contributions to Penn State,” O’Brien said. “Ted is a great coach and person. He earned the respect of our players and they enjoyed playing for him. We wish Ted and his family well.”
Under Roof’s watch, Penn State was second in the Big Ten in scoring defense (19.1 points), first in sacks (34) and first in red-zone defense. He was also instrumental in opening up recruiting avenues in the South for Penn State, including backup quarterback Steven Bench.
Now, Roof will be asked to stabilize Georgia Tech’s defense after Johnson fired defensive coordinator Al Groh at midyear. At the time of Groh’s dismissal, Georgia Tech was 89th in points allowed (30.2 points) and 90th in total defense (431 yards per game).
Secondary coach Charles Kelly served as interim coordinator the remainder of the season.
Roof came to Penn State last year after serving as Central Florida’s defensive coordinator for less than a month. He landed that job under O’Leary just weeks after leaving Auburn following the 2011 regular season.
Roof directed the Tigers defense for three seasons, including the 2010 national championship season. Johnson called Roof “one of the most respected football coaches in the nation.”
Roof’s resume also includes one season as defensive coordinator at Minnesota (2008) and six seasons at Duke. He became the Blue Devils’ head coach in 2003, going 6-45 before departing in 2007; O’Brien was offensive coordinator at Duke from 2005-6.
It was at Minnesota where Roof had Butler as his linebackers coach and special teams coordinator.
In Happy Valley, Butler coached a secondary thin in depth that gradually improved through the season and fixed mistakes that led to early woes on third downs. He’s perhaps best known to Penn State fans for his animated sideline demeanor while encouraging or positioning players.
Butler has also coached at South Carolina. This will be his first season as a coordinator, though Penn State also has veteran assistants on that side of the ball: defensive line coach Larry Johnson and linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden.
“John quickly developed a great relationship with all our players on defense and special teams,” O’Brien said. “And his ability to teach and relate to the players on and off the field will greatly assist in making this an easy transition.”
Just two days ago, O’Brien spoke to reporters of the desire to keep his coaching staff intact as much as possible to maintain continuity but also did not want to hold back his assistants from other potential opportunities.