Shoop, Part I: Acclimation

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach John Shoop has worked and lived coast-to-coast. He was one of Butch Davis' first hires upon arriving at UNC and has now been through two seasons in Chapel Hill. How has that acclimation process been for Shoop and his family?

"It has been fantastic," Shoop said. "We love Chapel Hill, we love the community here. Coach Davis and I, we were on the road together yesterday recruiting -- we were in Washington, D.C. navigating traffic and we both just looked at each other and said, ‘I don't miss that big city traffic, there's something about Chapel Hill.'"

Inside Carolina's Buck Sanders sat down with UNC offensive coordinator John Shoop earlier this month for a one-on-one interview. This is Part I of a five-part series running all this week from that interview session.
The Pennsylvania native, who as a teenager used to call in to the radio show of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Chuck Knoll to offer criticism and advice, turns 40 this year. But even at this relatively young age, he's been around. From college grad assistant stints at Dartmouth and Vanderbilt, he made the leap to the NFL -- a 12-year run that took Shoop from the Carolina Panthers to the Oakland Raiders. Tapped by head coach Butch Davis to direct the offense and coach quarterbacks in 2007, Shoop appears to have settled quite nicely into Chapel Hill and his role on Davis' staff.

Moving from place to place, as is the norm of coaches, and attempting to raise a family simultaneously can be challenging, but Chapel Hill has been a good fit for the Shoop family.

"I've a daughter (Mary Elizabeth) that's four and a son (Sidney) that is eight and our daughter loves sports like it is going out of style," he said. "What a great place for a young girl to grow up and be involved in sports, whether it is lacrosse, soccer, basketball -- this is a great place for her."

For coaches, the NFL and college offer far different atmospheres, but Shoop said he doesn't miss "The Show."

"In the NFL there's almost a dynamic now like the ‘gaper's delay' in a traffic jam -- people want to see a car wreck, people want to see a guy suffer," he said. "Here, people want you do so well, they are rooting for Carolina in everything. When people have stopped me (around town) I've felt nothing but support. That is a warm feeling; it's a warm feeling for your whole family."

There has also been an adjustment to the college game for Shoop, which has some differences from the professional version. Davis encourages his staff members to seek advice from outside the program to gain insight, and provides them the resources to seek that advice.

"Between the 2007 season and 2008 season, I visited with 11 different coaches, from high school coaches, to Division III coaches, to 1-AA coaches, to 1-A coaches, to NFL coaches," Shoop said. "Some of those visits were, ‘How do you deal with the hashes, these hashes are a little bit different than I am used to.' Some of those visits were, ‘How do you schedule your week?' -- the weekly schedule in college is so much different than the weekly schedule in the pros. Each one of those conversations, from high school coaches to NFL coaches, I found helpful and I think showed up in the 2008 season."

There's another key aspect of coaching college football that differs from the NFL – recruiting. It is a year-round job that many college coaches might find to be grind, but Shoop said his fondness for UNC and Chapel Hill has made it easy for him to become a salesman for the Tar Heel football program.

"One of my biggest concerns in recruiting is that I hope I don't fail to show (how I feel about UNC) to young men," he said. "I hope they give me an opportunity -- a real opportunity -- to show them all we have to offer, because I've been to just about every college campus in the country, and what we've got to offer isn't going to take a back seat to anybody. Anybody."

With Signing Day approaching -- the first Wednesday in February is right around the corner -- the enthusiasm for North Carolina that Shoop and Davis' staff have seems to be paying dividends. The Tar Heels' verbally committed class is currently ranked first in the ACC and No. 5 in the nation.

"Coach Davis is doing it," Shoop said. "He is doing a great job of it, and our whole staff is, of convincing people of the same. I hope great players throughout the country, great young men throughout the country, give us a chance to show what we've got to offer, because it's a great deal."

As for Shoop himself, he needs no further convincing. "It's the kind of place that the more you're here the better you feel about it, and I couldn't feel stronger about Coach Davis and the direction he sets for this program -- I couldn't feel stronger about the coaches I work with and the players I get to be around."

"Carolina is a good place to be."

Inside Carolina Top Stories