Tech’s search for a defensive coordinator came to an end on Friday, as the team hired former Virginia Head Coach Al Groh to lead the Jackets’ defense.
Groh’s name began circulating in rumors shortly after the Jackets announced that former defensive coordinator Dave Wommack would not be returning, and just eight days after Wommack’s departure the team announced that Groh would indeed be his replacement.
In Groh, the Jackets pick up a coordinator with a wealth of experience as a head coach and an assistant coach at both the collegiate and professional levels.
Groh most recently served as head coach of Virginia, his alma mater, for nine seasons. He earned ACC Coach of the Year honors in 2002 and 2007, leading Virginia to nine wins in each of those seasons. His defenses were ranked in the top 25 in the nation in total yardage in 2004, 2006 and 2007. Still, he was fired after the Cavaliers followed the 2007 campaign with back-to-back losing seasons.
The 65-year-old Groh has collegiate experience that dates back to 1971, when he began his formal coaching career as Virginia’s defensive line coach. He served as an assistant at several schools and was Wake Forest’s head coach from 1981-86.
On the professional level, he has most notably been a defensive assistant in various capacities under the highly successful Bill Parcells with the New York Giants, New England Patriots and New York Jets.
Groh has coached in two Super Bowls, serving as the linebackers coach for the 1990 Giants team that won Super Bowl XXV and the defensive coordinator for the 1996 Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.
Groh also replaced Parcells as the Jets’ head coach in 2000 for one season before taking the same position at Virginia.
Groh is most notable for employing a 3-4 defensive front, which uses three down linemen and four linebackers. Whereas in the more common 4-3 the four down linemen are the main source of pressure, the 3-4 linemen tend to be more geared to stop the run while the linebackers generate the pass rush.
Under Wommack, the Jackets occasionally ran plays out of a 3-4 late in the season but generally stuck to lineups with four down linemen.
The Jackets also filled their opening at A-backs coach by promoting from within, as former Tech graduate assistant Lamar Owens will take over the position.
Owens takes over for the departing Jeff Monken, who earlier this winter accepted the head coaching job at Georgia Southern.
Owens has long had ties to Head Coach Paul Johnson. He played football at Navy and was the starting quarterback for the Midshipmen as a senior. That year, 2005, he ran for 880 yards and passed for 1,299 yards while collecting 17 total touchdowns, and he led Navy to a victory in the Poinsettia Bowl.