Appalachian State head football coach Eliah Drinkwitz announced Saturday the hiring of championship-winning defensive coordinator Ted Roof, a former Power Five conference head coach who spent last season with Drinkwitz as NC State’s associate head coach and co-defensive coordinator.
A college football veteran, Roof has been part of 13 bowl appearances throughout his career, including a 3-0 bowl record as Auburn’s defensive coordinator from 2009-11 that was highlighted by the Tigers’ BCS National Championship following the 2010 campaign. His experience also includes stints as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, Penn State, Minnesota, UCF and Duke, where he received a promotion to head coach based on his defensive success.
“I’m very excited to welcome Ted Roof and his family to Appalachian State,” Drinkwitz said. “Ted is a tremendous leader of men who has championship experience. He understands how to develop a championship defense and has a track record of developing young men into NFL players. He will be a huge asset to this Mountaineer program.”
Drinkwitz and Roof were both on the staff at Auburn during its unbeaten national championship season, when Roof’s defense led the SEC and ranked ninth nationally by allowing just 109.1 rushing yards per game. The Tigers limited high-scoring Oregon to 19 points in the national title game.
This season, NC State had top-20 national rankings in rushing defense (13th at 109.1 yards per game), sacks (16th), red zone defense (ninth with scores on 73.8 percent of trips inside the 20), red zone TD rate (eighth with touchdowns on only 45.25 percent of trips inside the 20) and third-down defense (19th) while building a 9-3 record that led to a Gator Bowl appearance. The Wolfpack ranked 37th nationally by allowing 22.7 points per game during that 9-3 run.
“I’m really excited to be part of the App State family,” Roof said. “I’ve admired and respected the success of the football program here for a long time because of the great coaches and players that have come through here. It’s our job to uphold that standard and enhance it. I’m grateful to Eli for giving me the opportunity to be part of this staff. I’m looking forward to getting started with the players and being part of the community here in the High Country.”
Champions of the Sun Belt Conference and the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl, App State recently finished a season in which the defense gave up less than 20 points in all 11 victories. The Mountaineers ranked in the top 10 nationally in scoring defense (fourth at 15.5 points), total defense (sixth at 288.0 yards), passing defense (fifth at 162.1), interceptions (11th with 17), fewest passing touchdowns allowed (tied for No. 1 with eight) and fourth-down conversion rate (first at 27.3).
Roof has coached 32 years at the collegiate level. More than 80 of the student-athletes he has coached have signed NFL contracts, and more than 20 began this season on NFL rosters.
During Roof’s five seasons at Georgia Tech from 2013-17, a stretch that included an ACC Coastal Division title and Orange Bowl win in 2014, the Yellow Jackets made significant defensive improvement and ranked third behind Clemson and Virginia Tech in total defense in league play. They were 11th nationally in third-down defense in league play and 17th in first downs allowed.
Prior to that run at Georgia Tech, Roof directed a Penn State defense that ranked 16th nationally by allowing 19.1 points per game during an 8-4 season in 2012.
A native of Lawrenceville, Ga., Roof graduated from Central Gwinnett High School and was a three-year starter at linebacker for Georgia Tech from 1982-85. He was named a Freshman All-American in 1982, was a first-team All-ACC honoree as a senior in 1985 and remains one of Tech’s all-time leading tacklers with 417 career stops.
Following his 1986 graduation and a stint as an NFL player with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Roof began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Alabama in 1987 and 1988.
From there, he went on to serve as an assistant coach at West Georgia (linebackers, 1989), Duke (linebackers, 1990-93), UMass (defensive line/recruiting coordinator, 1994; defensive coordinator, 1995-96) and Western Carolina (defensive coordinator, 1997) before returning to Georgia Tech in 1998. He was promoted to defensive coordinator in 1999 and held that position for three years.
Duke was ranked 113th out of 115th teams nationally in rushing defense the year before Roof arrived as the defensive coordinator in 2002, and the Blue Devils led the ACC in rushing defense during Roof’s first year. He was named interim head coach midway through his second season in Durham and took over the role permanently from 2004-07.
During his five years with Minnesota, Auburn and Penn State from 2008-2012, he helped lead each team to at least seven wins.
Roof and his wife, Pam Ash-Roof, have twin sons, T.D. and Michael.
Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Dan Quinn on Roof…
“App State got them a great one in Ted Roof. His ability to teach defense and connect with players is remarkable.”
Former Georgia Tech, Alabama, Kentucky and Georgia State head coach Bill Curry on Roof…
“As a player, Ted Roof was the finest leader I ever coached. And that includes thousands of great young men. As a coach, he is an incredible leader and just a wonderful human being who demands a lot from his players. And his players respond to his leadership. He will do a great job at Appalachian State.”