Jerome “Jappy” Oliver is Virginia’s new defensive line coach and a connection to UVa defensive coordinator Jon Tenuta, dating back to the 2006 season opener, is a big reason why the Monday hire occurred.
On Sept. 2, 2006, Notre Dame took on Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Oliver, as the Fighting Irish’s defensive line coach, and Tenuta, as the Yellow Jackets’ defensive coordinator, worked from their respective sidelines or press boxes. The final score — 14-10 in UND’s favor — indicated defense controlled the game.
Notre Dame, led by Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback Brady Quinn, gained less than 390 yards. Georgia Tech, led by All-American receiver Calvin Johnson, gained less than 260 yards.
A mutual respect was formed.
“I basically saw what he did to some of our guys on offense,” Oliver said Monday from the American Football Coaches Association convention in Indianapolis. “I loved his attacking, aggressive style. That hit home right from the start.”
Two years later, the duo was on the same staff in South Bend, Ind. — Oliver still in charge of the D-linemen, Tenuta as the Irish’s linebackers coach.
“We got a chance to work together,” Oliver said. “By nature, I love to attack. If you know anything about J.T., by nature, he loves to attack. So a lot of our philosophies work together real well. I made a lasting impression on him.
“And here I am with him, trying to do it again at UVa.”
The Oliver-to-the-Cavaliers announcement came Monday morning, meaning Virginia head coach Mike London has filled one-half of his staff vacancies.
On Jan. 6, University of Connecticut head coach Bob Diaco officially named former UVa assistants Vincent Brown and Anthony Poindexter as the Huskies’ new co-defensive coordinators.
Oliver, who spent his last four seasons coaching the defensive line at Buffalo, replaces Brown, who held that position at Virginia.
“Initially, it started with J.T.,” Oliver said. “He knew I was interested. This thing happened fast. Coach London had two guys leaving, going to UConn. They wanted to get somebody on board, especially before this upcoming weekend, which will be a big recruiting weekend.
“So it initially started with J.T., and then Mike called me, obviously. We had a previous relationship in terms of knowing about each other. He asked if I was interested. I told him I would be. That got the ball rolling.
“You know once you get the ball rolling in this business, it’s hard to stop.”
Oliver would know. He’s no rookie to it.
The 1978 Purdue graduate has 35 years of coaching experience. To go along with Notre Dame and Buffalo, he’s had stops at the likes of Air Force Navy, South Carolina and Vanderbilt.
While with the Irish, he once journeyed to Charlottesville to gain knowledge of the 3-4 defense. At that time, the system was being run by Wahoo head coach Al Groh.
UND defense coordinator Corwin Brown, a former UVa assistant, wanted the same style.
That’s when Oliver first connected with London, then on Groh’s staff.
“I've known Coach Oliver for a number of years from my time serving as a defensive line coach," London said in a press release. "He is someone who has always been highly respected in the profession. I think he is a very good fit for our program.
“He has worked at a number of BCS schools that share the same values as Virginia. He has a reputation for having good relationships with his players. He will also be very effective teaching and coaching Jon Tenuta's systems on defense because of their prior time working together."
Oliver, who has nurtured future pros such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Derek Landri and 2007 second round pick Victor Abiamiri, called his new situation at UVa a “match made in heaven.”
Details of Oliver’s contract will be made available later this week, a University spokesman told The Daily Progress.
The Cavaliers went 2-10 last season, finishing without an ACC win for the first time since 1981.
“There’s no question in my mind that we’ll get this thing turned around and get it headed in the right direction,” Oliver said.
Oliver, who led a Buffalo D-line unit to 14 sacks last season, gets a returning Virginia group that accounted for 16 sacks in 2013.
Plus, the Cavs return DT Chris Brathwaite, the 2012 team leader in tackles for loss. Brathwaite missed all of last season after being ruled academically ineligible.
Via his Twitter account, receiver E.J. Scott announced that he has transferred from Virginia to Wake Forest.
“Wake Forest! New Home! Happy to be a Deac!,” Scott posted Monday.
The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder graduated from UVa in December, making him eligible to play right away for the Demon Deacons.
After making 29 receptions for 390 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, Scott made just three catches for 30 yards as a junior last season.