OPINION: Vic Koenning’s Career Likely Over

Morgantown, West Virginia – Former West Virginia Defensive Coordinator Vic Koenning had a long and somewhat illustrious career dating all the way back to 1986 when he started out as a Graduate Assistant and then Defensive Backs Coach at Memphis State.

From there, he was the Defensive Coordinator at Wyoming for a couple years before being promoted to Head Coach during the 2000-2002 seasons.  During his time as a Head Coach, his team finished 1-10 (0-8 in the Mountain West Conference), 2-9 (0-7 in conference) and 2-10 (1-6 in conference play).  He was fired after the 2002 season with a 5-29 overall record and 1-21 record in conference play.  In other words, he failed miserably as a Head Coach.

Koenning did have quite a bit of success as a Defensive Coordinator, however.  His 2004 Troy team finished with a Top 10 defense and then he was hired as the Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Backs Coach at Clemson, where his team was 9th in total defense in 2007. He resigned this position to return to his alma mater, Kansas State, as the Assistant Head Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator and the Wildcats’ defense improved from 118th overall to 38th in one year.

The next season, in 2009, Koenning was announced as the Defensive Coordinator for the University of Illinois.  The Illini defense improved from 91st in the country in overall defense in 2009 to 38th in 2010 and then to 7th in the nation in 2011. Illinois gave up just 291.8 yards per game and ranked fourth in the nation in pass defense, fifth in tackles for loss and ninth in sacks.

He then moved on to North Carolina and in his first season at Chapel Hill, his defense finished third in the nation in tackles for loss with more than eight per game and once again, the team improved dramatically from the years prior to his arrival.

When he ultimately took the job of Defensive Coordinator at Troy under Neal Brown, he had an already-impressive resume .

From 2016-18, Troy’s defense allowed 20.8 points per game, ranking No. 4 nationally among non-power 5 schools. In the last four years, the Trojans are No. 2 nationally among FBS schools in takeaways (106). In 2018, Troy’s defense gave up 22.0 points per game, ranking No. 28 nationally and 347.9 yards per game, ranking No. 31 in the nation. The Trojan defense was No. 3 nationally in turnovers gained (31), No. 5 in interceptions (18) and fumbles recovered (13), No. 11 in turnover margin (0.77), No. 16 in tackles for loss (7.6), No. 21 in red zone defense and tied for No. 28 in first-down defense (240).

With this all said, Koenning’s fate may have been sealed during his one year at West Virginia University.  Despite all of his past successes as a Defensive Coordinator at multiple stops during his career, not many universities are looking for a 60 year old coordinator who was just accused and ultimately confirmed following an investigation of “mistreatment of players.”

If his “mutual separation” from West Virginia University didn’t end his career, the messages from his former players at North Carolina on social media were likely the nail in the coffin for Koenning.

Former Tar Heel linebacker Travis Hughes called Koenning “one of the most negative coaches/people that I’ve ever had the displeasure of being around.”  He went on to say, “He made good men and amazing athletes hate the beautiful game of football.  I wish this guy didn’t coach anyone’s son.  This man needs a new job and I hope it’s not with a football program.  He is not a person with moral values. ”

Hughes’ former teammate and player under Koenning at North Carolina agreed, saying, “I feel the same way about that man too.  Negative individual I wish I never encountered.”  Jessie Rogers, another teammate of Hughes under Koenning added, “He literally snatched my passion for the game from me.  He was so damaging in the long run.”

A potential future employer could perhaps forgive what one or two players say, but when multiple players come out with the same complaints about Koenning, it will be very hard to look past, particularly during this time in the world.

Koenning, however, believes he’ll be back.  In his statement following his dismissal from the program, Koenning said the following: “I am not done coaching. I remain passionate about leading young men and look forward to the next coaching chapter in my life.”

Unfortunately for Vic Koenning, it’s very unlikely that he’ll ever coach again.  He is obviously a fine Defensive Coordinator, but it doesn’t appear that he’s able to relate to today’s players and I just don’t see another university ever giving him another opportunity.