Oakmont native Shoop calls PSU job 'dream come true'
College Football Videos
During one of their first official acts at Penn State, Nittany Lions coach James Franklin and three assistants went recruiting.
Two of the assistants, like Franklin, are Pennsylvania natives. Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop is from Oakmont.
Shoop already had told well-wishers that coaching at Penn State was “a dream come true.” But in the whirlwind of it all, Shoop never had much time to allow it to sink in — until he was out recruiting near Philadelphia with Franklin and receivers coach Josh Gattis.
“I'm sitting here in the back seat, and (Franklin) turns around and slapped me in the chest,” Shoop said, “and he says, ‘Can you believe we're coaching at Penn State?'
“That was a real moment. It really hit me, ‘Holy cow … we're coaching at Penn State.' I didn't have anything to say back to him other than, ‘I know. I can't believe it, man.' ”
Shoop comes from a long line of Washington & Jefferson alumni. Shoop went to Yale and speculates he hadn't set foot on Penn State's campus in three decades before arriving to start work there earlier this month.
But make no mistake, Shoop insists he isn't being insincere in expressing his reverence for Penn State.
“That's legit. That's not some saying or just some recruiting thing,” Shoop said. “I have nothing negative at all to say about Vanderbilt. ... But what people have to understand is this is a tremendous opportunity. It wasn't like … we left for any opportunity. We left for one where we said, ‘This is the one, man. This is where we wanna be.' ”
Shoop's father saw signs his son would become a coach when, as a 6-year-old, the younger Shoop would grab the newspaper, flip to the sports page and compute batting averages and other statistics.
“Bobby literally became the scholar he is as a result of sports,” the elder Shoop said. “He has an analytical mind all as a result of sports. I can say that literally developed out of reading the sports pages.”
A three-sport star at Riverview High in the early 1980s, the younger Shoop was the winning pitcher for the Raiders' PIAA championship baseball team in 1983.
Also a basketball standout, he was the starting quarterback at Riverview during his sophomore and junior seasons, said Bob Rukavina, who was an assistant at the school and now is the men's basketball coach at Pitt-Johnstown. But legendary football coach Chuck Wagner moved Shoop to wide receiver as a senior.
“That's a very difficult thing for a kid like that to do, but wouldn't you know it, he became an all-conference receiver,” said Rukavina, whom Shoop credited as being one of his greatest coaching influences. “That's the kind of guy he was and is.”
Rukavina called Shoop “still one of the top three most competitive guys I've ever coached.”
Shoop and his brothers, Bill and John, were three-sport high school athletes who played at least one sport in college. Bill, the vice president of a medical supplies company, was the only one who didn't go into coaching.
John Shoop has spent roughly half of his 24 seasons of coaching in the NFL. He is the offensive coordinator at Purdue. That means the Shoop brothers could match wits in future Big Ten games.
“When we grew up in Western Pennsylvania, sports was a pretty big deal,” John Shoop said. “I think when I realized I wasn't going to keep playing, I turned to coaching, and I think Bob would probably say the same. It's not something you can do without.
“I can tell you Bob has a deep respect for the game and a deep respect for the tradition at Penn State. He holds that position in very high regard, for sure.”
Kind of the same way that most who meet Shoop regard him. Privately, Penn State players acknowledge he made a strong first impression on them during his initial meetings with the defense and specific players.
“He's a major-leaguer in every regard,” said Wagner, who said Shoop stands out among the best people he coached over a 50-year career in high school football. “He's smart, and you could tell he came from a real solid family.
“I'm happy for him, getting this job — but I'm not surprised.”
At 47, Shoop is the old man of Penn State's new staff. But if his first two unofficial weeks on the job are any indication, he isn't lacking in energy. Shoop joined several assistants on recruiting trips to various corners of the country.
“We're gonna kill it,” Shoop says about recruiting.
It's clear Shoop embraces recruiting. Then again, he does so all aspects of being a coach. Armed with an economics degree from Yale, Shoop spent one year out of college working in sales for Proctor & Gamble.
“It really didn't take very long for me to recognize it was not what I wanted to do,” Shoop said. “The Rest is history. I'm very passionate about coaching. I couldn't imagine doing anything else.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Starkey: Steelers still knockin’ on Canton’s door
- Pitcher Arrieta, Cubs shut down Pirates in victory at PNC Park
- Mon Valley takes time out for night out to build community
- Review: Pittsburgh son Billy Porter shines bright in ‘Kinky Boots’
- McKeesport charter sees no problems for opening
- Heyward-Bey looks to make impact on special teams with Steelers
- Rostraver native revisits roots on cross-country bike journey
- Philanthropist and one-time GOP powerhouse Elsie Hillman dies at 89
- Steelers notebook: Spaeth on baby watch
- Catching on: Jeannette grad Pryor making progress with transition to receiver
- Fire displaces Kittanning family of 6