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Penn State defensive coordinator raises his profile

Shoop's success stirs talk of head coaching potential.

STATE COLLEGE - It happens all the time: A defensive, offensive or special-teams coordinator molds a consistent, standout unit, which sometimes carries a team to success.

That not only garners the respective group attention, but also the coach that's mentoring.

In Penn State's case, that's defensive coordinator and safeties coach Bob Shoop.

With his first regular season at Penn State in the books, Shoop has made a name for himself.

A lot falls on the players' performances, but the Nittany Lions were top-10 in scoring defense and allowed the fewest rushing yards per game, and Shoop - who was nominated last month for the Broyles Award for the nation's best assistant - deserves some credit.

Naturally, that success got some people thinking: What does Shoop think about becoming a head coach someday?

At Penn State's Pinstripe Bowl news conference, the coordinator indulged the idea. The Nittany Lions (6-6) will play Boston College (7-5) in the bowl on Dec. 27 at Yankee Stadium.

"There's no blueprint in this profession. I love the job that I have now," Shoop said. "Like any coach who is professionally motivated, if it were the right opportunity and someone showed interest in me, I would listen."

Shoop has been a head coach before. The Oakmont native was at the helm of Columbia, where he went 7-23 from 2003 to '05.

Shoop, who was James Franklin's defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt, admitted his stint in the Ivy League wasn't the most productive. "We struggled there," he said. "It wasn't great."

But that was at Columbia, a program with an all-time winning percentage of .376. Who's to say Shoop couldn't make strides at a well-established program?

His players believe he's cut out for it.

Senior safety Jesse Della Valle said Shoop has every attribute you could ask for in a head coach.

"I know he's going to continue to succeed with whatever he does," Della Valle said.

Della Valle, who works with both Shoop the coordinator and position specialist, mentioned how his coach is particularly proficient with X's-and-O's.

That makes sense; Shoop did graduate with a degree in economics from Yale.

Redshirt senior linebacker Mike Hull, who also notices his coach's smarts on a daily basis, said Shoop has mentioned the idea of becoming a head coach a couple times. But the Big Ten Linebacker of the Year award winner thinks Shoop wants to stay at Penn State for a while.

"I think he will [be a head coach] further down the line," Hull said. "He wants to be a part of this for as long as he can, but I think it's always been in his vision to take a step to the next level. And I think he'll be really good at it."

From what Shoop and Hull offered on the topic, it doesn't seem as if the coach is looking to move any time soon.

But in the future? Who knows?

Like Shoop said, there's no blueprint in the coaching world.