Vic Koenning (pronounced KOH-ning) joins the Carolina coaching staff as the Tar Heels' associate head coach for defense and will coach inside linebackers.
Carolina will be Koenning's second tour of duty in the Atlantic Coast Conference. He was Clemson's defensive coordinator from 2005-08 where he accomplished something no other Tiger defensive coordinator had accomplished in the school's history. Each of his four Clemson defenses finished in the top 25 in scoring, total, and pass efficiency defense.
Koenning left Clemson and spent one season at Kansas State under Bill Snyder and two seasons at Illinois under head coach Ron Zook. He improved the Illini defense from 91st in the country in 2009 to 38th in 2010 and seventh in 2011. Illinois gave up just 291.8 yards per game and ranked fourth in the nation in pass defense, fifth in tackles for losses and ninth in sacks. Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus led the nation in sacks and was second in tackles for losses. Koenning led Illinois to a 20-14 win over UCLA in the Kraft Fight Hunger bowl in 2011 as the team's interim head coach.
Koenning's first season with the Illini was an unquestioned success as he improved Illinois' defense from 76th in the country in rushing defense to 32nd, 96th to 48th in scoring defense, 100th to 61st in passing defense and 83rd to 22nd in turnover margin while serving as defensive coordinator and secondary coach.
In 2009, he helped Kansas State improve from 112th in the NCAA in rushing defense in 2008 to 16th in 2009, total defense from 117th to 40th and scoring defense from 110th to 48th. KSU allowed 140 yards fewer last season than in 2008 and 12 points per game less than the previous year.
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 also was 12th in the nation in pass defense, 11th in pass efficiency defense, tied for eighth in interceptions and 16th in total defense.
The 2007 defensive performance might have been the best of his tenure at Clemson. The Tigers had just one player make first or second-team All-ACC despite leading the ACC in pass defense and turnover margin, and finishing second in total and scoring defense. Clemson was ninth in the nation in total defense (307 ypg), and 10th in scoring defense (18.7 ppg).
In 2006, Clemson finished 13th in the nation in total defense, 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 Clemson finished in the top 20 in the four major defensive categories in the same year. In that season, Clemson held Georgia Tech All-American and No. 2 overall draft pick Calvin Johnson without a reception for the only time in his collegiate career.
In Koenning's first season at Clemson, the defense allowed 11.5 points per game in the last seven games, going 6-1 in those contests. During that stretch, the defense held No. 16 Florida State and No. 19 South Carolina without an offensive touchdown. The 2005 season concluded with a 19-10 win over Colorado in the Champs Sports Bowl. The Tigers held the Buffaloes to 124 yards of total offense and just 17 rushing yards, the best bowl game defensive performance of the bowl season. Clemson allowed only one touchdown in its last 45 defensive possessions that season.
Koenning developed several Clemson players to the NFL. In 2006, cornerback Tye Hill, now with the St. Louis Rams, was a first-round draft pick, while defensive end Gaines Adams, who passed away in Jan. of 2010, was the No. 4 overall selection in 2007. Defensive end Phillip Merling was the No. 32 overall selection of the 2008 draft by Miami.
Koenning built a strong résumé in two seasons at Troy from 2003-04. He led its defense to a top-10 NCAA finish in scoring, rushing and pass efficiency defense and yards per play in 2004. Troy's defense led the nation in interceptions (25), tied for second in turnovers forced (32), was ninth in fewest yards allowed per play, and finished 16th in total defense (311.0).
Prior to his time at Troy, he was the head coach at Wyoming from 2000-02. He coached 10 Cowboy players who earned first-team all-conference honors in his six seasons in Laramie, including three years as defensive coordinator. In 1997, UW led the nation in interceptions and was second in sacks.
Koenning served as a full-time assistant coach working with the defensive backs at Memphis from 1991-96. In his first year, he helped the Tigers to a 24-10 upset at No. 14 USC. His second season there saw the defense finish third in the nation in total defense and 15th in scoring defense. The Tigers enjoyed another successful year on defense in 1993, as Koenning's unit was 16th in the nation in total defense. In 1994, the Tigers were third in the nation in total defense and eighth in scoring defense. His final year at Memphis was highlighted by a 21-17 upset of No. 6 Tennessee.
A three-year starter, team captain and 1983 graduate at Kansas State, Koenning was the recipient of the Paul Coffman Award, presented to the Wildcat who displays the most outstanding leadership. Koenning was third on the team with 93 total tackles as a senior.
Koenning, a native of Owasso, Okla., pursued a playing career with the Denver Broncos, Oklahoma Outlaws (USFL) and Green Bay Packers between 1983-86 before starting work on his master's degree at Memphis in 1986. He later received his master's in athletic administration from Memphis in 1989.
Koenning and his wife Tracey have four children, Kimberly, Brady, Camden and Jackson.