Vols' Bob Shoop says Penn State contract dispute 'not a distraction at all' [video]

New Tennessee football defensive coordinator Bob Shoop answers questions during a news conference Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016, in Knoxville, Tenn. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/Knoxville News Sentinel via AP)

KNOXVILLE - An ongoing contract dispute between Tennessee defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and his former employer, Penn State, "is not a distraction at all," Shoop said Friday.

"The only time it's any distraction is when you guys bring it up," Shoop said during a preseason news conference. "Seriously, I'm not trying to be funny by saying that."

The Volunteers' second-year defensive coordinator is being sued by Penn State for $900,000, with the suit claiming Shoop was required to pay the university half his base salary for whatever time was left on his contract at the time of his departure, unless he became a head coach within a year.

Two years remained on Shoop's contract in January 2016 when he accepted the position at Tennessee, which pays him an annual salary of $1,155,000.

Shoop filed a countersuit against Penn State earlier this month seeking $75,000, alleging that he was forced out at Penn State and that working conditions at the school were "intolerable."

"I appreciate the fact that a lot of you guys are interested in the situation with regard to me and Penn State," Shoop told the gathered reporters. "I can't comment on it at this time. I promise you it's just a matter of a contract. We have a number that we feel we owe them and they have a number that they feel we owe them."

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones said at SEC media days last week that he has no concerns about the matter.

Preseason practice begins a week from today for the Vols, who are trying to correct defensive woes that plagued the team late during a 9-4 season last year.

Shoop tried Friday to direct attention toward the upcoming season and away from the lawsuit.

"People who know a lot more about this stuff than I do are handling it," he said. "It's nothing I really think about on a daily basis unless I read about it in the paper or you guys tell me about it or call me about it."

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.