Former Penn State defensive coordinator Bob Shoop is in court with his former employer over the buyout of his contract, as we learned earlier this week from Penn Live. Now we are learning that Shoop plans to contest his buyout on the grounds that Penn State is at fault.
The university instituted a clause in his original contract to protect them from the exact situation that transpired. Shoop would owe half of the balance of his remaining contract back to the university if he did not leave for a head coaching job. When Shoop left in January 2016 for a lateral position as defensive coordinator at Tennessee, he needed to ascend to a head coaching position within a year in order to avoid paying $891,856.
That 12-month period has come and gone and Shoop has not paid up. Whether Shoop was convinced he would have a head coaching position by now or not, it is clear that he does not intend to pay Penn State back. In fact, he has filed a counterclaim against the university for "damages in excess of $75,000."
While I am and have never pretended to be a lawyer, the contention by Shoop's attorney that his contract was signed "under duress" seems flimsy considering Penn State's staff payments in 2014-15 were very competitive with major college football programs. And had Shoop not left with head coach James Franklin's staff from Vanderbilt in January 2014, he certainly would have had other coaching options to choose from.
Shoop also claims to have experienced a "hostile, negative working environment" that "forced" him to leave Penn State. Had Penn State wanted Shoop out, it already had shown it was willing to let a coordinator go just two months before when Franklin dismissed then-offensive coordinator John Donovan. The promotion from within of linebackers coach Brent Pry made it clear that Penn State was not looking for outside help to scapegoat Shoop for the Nittany Lions' struggles to break from the middle of the Big Ten pack.
Frankly, it seems like Shoop gambled on himself and had it blow up in his face. Tennessee's defense took a big step back under his leadership in 2016, and he disappeared from the head coaching market. The team stayed afloat just enough for head coach Butch Jones to return, which leaves Shoop in the lurch as he tries to defend himself from both SEC offenses and Big Ten attorneys.
Brent Pry returns in 2017 for his second season at the helm of Penn State's defense.