New Vols assistants accustomed to tackling off-field issues
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) New Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and tight ends coach Larry Scott have experience helping guide programs facing off-field issues.
They'll need that experience. They open spring practice at their new jobs Monday, one month after Tennessee got sued in federal court. The suit, which has eight unidentified women as plaintiffs, alleges Tennessee has violated Title IX regulations and created a ''hostile sexual environment'' through a policy of indifference toward assaults by athletes, including football players.
Scott, who arrived at Miami in 2013 when the Hurricanes were awaiting a final decision on NCAA penalties and served as interim head coach for the team's final six games last season after Al Golden was fired, said a mistake that's often made is not to talk to the players about the adversity hovering over a team.
''Let's talk about it,'' Scott said Thursday. ''Let's say this is what life is all about. Young people, as you walk out of these doors, life's going to throw you some more curveballs, and it's going to throw you more adversity. Things are going to happen. It's all in how you deal with it.
''What is going to be your approach? What are our goals? Let's keep the main thing the main thing among all of these things going on. And acknowledge that they're going on, but talk about the human element of how we deal with it, how we're going to face it and what's going to be our approach and how we're going to still stay focused on what's important. ''
Scott said what's important for the athletes is going to class and working as hard as they can to be as good as they can be in the weight room and on the field.
''You're becoming a better player,'' Scott added, ''and you're becoming a better person first.''
Shoop was defensive coordinator at Vanderbilt in 2013 when four players were dismissed from the team and later indicted on charges of raping a student in a campus dormitory. He went from there to Penn State, which was still dealing with the effects of NCAA sanctions that arose due to former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky's child-molestation scandal.
Shoop noted that it's important to block out distractions once it's time to work.
''I use the phrase - it's (from) Bill Belichick - ignore the noise and do your job,'' Shoop said. ''That's what we've been talking to them about. Ignore the noise and do your job. Do your job within the framework of the unit. Do your job within the framework of the room. When you come into this building, bring your lunch pail and get ready to work.''
Tennessee enters spring practice with high expectations, as the Volunteers return the nucleus of a team that went 9-4 and were ranked 22nd after finishing the 2015 season on a six-game winning streak. Over the last month, however, much of the talk around Knoxville has centered on the lawsuit rather than the team itself.
Neither coach expressed any regrets about taking jobs at Tennessee now that the lawsuit has been filed.
Scott said Tennessee has ''as good a culture as I've been around in college athletics.''
Shoop pointed to a fair on campus as a reason why he is comfortable as the school. Last week former Tennessee football players now in the business world discussed career opportunities with current Volunteers, and Shoop said it was ''as good an event as I've ever seen in 25 years of coaching.''
''I've never felt more confident about a decision in my life,'' Shoop said. ''Every day, I feel validated by this decision.''