Kansas State co-defensive coordinator Vic Koenning chose his words carefully during a telephone interview Friday afternoon with UGASports.
Has the former Clemson and Troy defensive coordinator talked with Georgia head coach Mark Richt about the Bulldogs' vacant defensive coordinator's position?
"Georgia's a great place and Coach Richt is a fantastic coach, but I don't think I'm at liberty to say right now," Koenning said. "I'll just say it would be a great honor to be considered for that, but that's all I can say."
When pressed further, the native of Owasso, OK held his ground.
"I just can't say. It's not my place to say or not say," Koenning said. "I learned a long time ago not to say a lot about this type of thing because it can be construed the wrong way."
The 49-year-old coach, who joined the staff at K-State prior to this year, served as Clemson's defensive coordinator from 2005-2008, after a two-year stint in the same capacity at Troy (2003-2004). Koenning also served as the head coach at Wyoming from 2000-2002 following six years as the secondary coach at Memphis.
No stranger to Georgia, Koenning recruited South Georgia for the Tigers and Troy, and has maintained strong bonds with high school coaches throughout the state.
"I had South Georgia when I was at Troy and when I went to Clemson I was able to keep it," Koenning said. "I understand the passion people have in that part of the country, and I believe I have good relationships with the coaches. I feel at home when I got down there and I always look forward to the time I'm able to spend there and recruit."
Koenning and his wife Tracy have four children - Kimberly, Brady, Camden and Jackson.
"Coach Richt has made Georgia into an attractive situation, it's a fantastic school, a fantastic program and obviously they play in a tough conference that's very challenging," Koenning said. "Again, I'm trying to watch what I say. I don't want to say anything that's going to be taken the wrong way."
This past season, Kansas State ranked seventh in the Big 12 in scoring defense (23.3 points per game), sixth in rushing defense (105.4 ypg), seventh in passing defense (234.5 ypg) and fifth in total defense (339.9 ypg). The Wildcats did rank second in the Big 12 in turnover-margin at +7.
At Clemson, Koenning did something that no other Tiger defensive coordinator had accomplished in school history during his four-year tenure as each of his four defenses from 2005-2008 finished in the top 25 in scoring, total, and pass efficiency defense each season.
In 2008, Clemson's defense led the ACC in scoring defense and ranked ninth in the nation by allowing just 16.6 points per game. The unit was also 12th in the nation in pass defense, 11th in pass efficiency defense, tied for eighth in interceptions and 16th in total defense.
A 1983 graduate of Kansas State, Koenning's Clemson defense in 2005 featured first-round draft pick Tye Hill, a cornerback now with the St. Louis Rams, while his 2006 defense featured defensive end Gaines Adams, the No. 4 selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His 2007 unit featured another defensive end in Phillip Merling, who was the No. 32 overall selection of the 2008 draft by Miami.
The 2007 season may have been his best. Clemson had just one player make First- or Second-Team All-ACC, but the Tigers led the ACC in pass defense and turnover margin and finished second in total defense and scoring defense. That year the Tigers were ninth in totally defense, giving up just 307 yards per game and finished 10th in scoring defense, allowing just 18.7 points per contest.
In 2006, Clemson finished 13th in the nation in total defense, its highest mark since the 1991 team finished fourth. Clemson was 18th in rushing defense, 24th in pass defense (yards), 17th in pass efficiency defense, 20th in sacks, and 16th in scoring defense. It marked the first time since 1990 (that team led the nation in total defense) that Clemson finished in the top 20 in the four major defensive categories in the same year.
His 2006 Tiger team held former Georgia Tech receiver Calvin Johnson without a catch for the only time in his career.
In 2005, his first season at Clemson, the Tigers allowed 11.5 points per game in the last seven games, a big reason the Tigers went 6-1 in those contests. During that stretch, the defense held No. 16 Florida State (coached by Bobby Bowden) and No. 19 South Carolina (coached by Steve Spurrier) without an offensive touchdown.
At Troy, he helped the Trojans to a top-10- national finish in scoring defense, scoring defense, rushing defense, yard per play and pass efficiency defense.
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