John Butler was quick to stress how Penn State’s defense shouldn’t look much different from the one a year ago.
And that apparently includes the view of the sideline.
Butler, who was promoted from secondary coach to defensive coordinator, said he expects to remain his usually fiery self. At times, he looked on the brink of losing control during games as he encouraged his players or disagreed with an officials’ call.
The yelling, headset-tossing, arms-waving approach became a trademark of sorts that earned him teasing from his players.
“You got to be yourself. Players and co-workers can sniff out a phony in a heartbeat,” Butler said, addressing the media for the first time since his promotion.
“If I showed up to practice one day and had my hands folded and was quiet, kids would look at me and say, ‘Who is this clown?’ They’d see through that.
“I don’t think (my exuberance) will be an issue. It may be misunderstood. I’m incredibly competitive. While it may appear that I may have lost my mind, I haven’t.”
On Wednesday, he was quickly named to replace departing defensive coordinator Ted Roof, who took the same job at his alma mater, Georgia Tech.
Butler, 39, is a suburban Philadelphia native who is close friends with Penn State strength and conditioning coordinator Craig Fitzgerald. Both joined Bill O’Brien’s staff after working under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina.
Last year, Butler coached defensive backs and special teams and said he will continue to work with either the cornerbacks or safeties.
“I will maintain a coaching role. I’m not going to be a walk-around coordinator.”
He said the Nittany Lions should be able to make a smooth transition to his leadership because the base system and terminology learned last year will remain the same. He said his defense will continue relying on the principles of aggression and multiple formations with an emphasis on in-game adjustments.