For current and lifelong Penn State fans, alumni of the university and anyone with any personal or professional connection to the school and its football program, the past few months have been arguably the most disheartening of days in State College.
While it may be tough for most to take any positives out of what has been a nightmare for many of the Penn State faithful, there was still a need to move forward and fill certain voids which were left behind.
And now, after what was an extensive search, those voids are no more, and have now become possible life-changing opportunities for several.
One of those people who decided to take on what will inevitably be a huge responsibility during a rebuilding period – on and off the field – is John Butler, a former Oreland resident and football player at La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor.
Back on Jan. 13, Butler, who played defensive back for the Explorers from 1987-1990, accepted the job as the new secondary coach for the Penn State University football team.
More than two months following the departure of Joe Paterno as the long-time head coach of the Nittany Lions, the current New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, was named as the new head coach at Penn State. O’Brien brought in with him several coaches he had worked with over the years, but Butler was not one of them.
“I knew Bill through a couple of professional contacts,” said Butler, a lifelong Penn State football fan. “Bill and I have had some conversations in the past, both professional and personal, and I got to know him that way. I have a close, personal relationship with Ted Roof, so I felt very comfortable with (O’Brien) and am very comfortable with being brought aboard because of (Roof).”
Roof was the defensive coordinator at Auburn before being brought in for the same job at Penn State. Butler, who was the special teams’ coach under Steve Spurrier at South Carolina prior to moving to the Nittany Lions’ coaching staff, will reunite with Roof after the two coached together at Minnesota in 2008.
Butler, who also coached outside linebackers at South Carolina in 2011, returns to his home state after coaching stints at Harvard (2003-06), Texas State (2001-02), Midwestern State (1999-2000) and Minnesota (2007-10), which came after being a graduate assistant at Texas in 1997 and ’98.
At La Salle College High School, on top of being on the football team, Butler played basketball and baseball and to this day, says he is “still very proud to be an alumni of La Salle,” a school which won a PIAA Class AAAA football title just three seasons ago.