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Your new defensive coordinator is...


Kevin Cosgrove (and Ronnie Lee promoted to co-DC).  I assume you read other sources that provide Gopher news (if you don't, I was just kidding there are no other Gopher sources just stay here).  And if so you have probably heard that this was rumored for the last day or two.  Cosgrove and Brewster have a hist

ory, Cosgrove has a extensive history coordinating a defense at BCS level schools (Wisconsin and Nebraska) and Cosgrove has a decent reputation as a good recruiter.  Add those together and what was a quick hire. 

"We are very excited to announce Kevin Cosgrove as our new co-def

ensive coordinator," Brewster said. "Coach Cosgrove brings a wealth of experience in the Big Ten as both a coach and recruiter. Plus, he possesses a long track record of developing outstanding defenses. But, perhaps more importantly, Kevin is a great person and an outstanding fit on our staff.

"Ronnie Lee has done a tremendous job since joining our staff here at Minnesota," Brewster added. "I’m very pleased to reward him with this promotion. Ronnie has proven himself to be an excellent coach and recruiter. I look forward to him having an expanded role on our defensive staff."

Kevin Cosgrove will be sharing his defensive coordinator duties with defensive backs coach Ronnie Lee.  We will talk more about Lee and his role in the future, but this post will focus on Cosgrove.

This hire does not come without controversy and opinions, of course.  Kevin

Cosgrove's most recent position was on Bill Callahan's staff at Nebraska.  2007 was his final season and it was statistically the worst defense in Husker history.  Cos was disliked by nearly everyone, hated by a few and had his life threatened by one.

I queried the author of Husker blog, Corn Nation to get his thoughts.  John didn't have much good to say about Cosgrove and pointed out that the biggest critique of his defenses was that it couldn't defend the spread (gave up 76 to Kansas in his final year).  That is very concerning as the Big Ten is all of a sudden full of spread teams.

The bottom line on Cosgrove is this - we knew that with him we'd never have a great defense. Since Callahan was supposedly an "offensive genius", the idea was that the defense would be good enough to win games. What a fantasy, especially in 2007 when the defense fell down so badly.... like I said, worst defense in Nebraska history. At the end of 2007, it was like they were throwing guys on the field who hadn't a clue as to what they were doing. Is that all Cosgrove's fault? No, but as far as I know, he's never said boo about it after the fact.

Cosgrove will be okay if he has to defend against traditional pro-style offenses. If he has to defend against a spread, or a mobile quarterback, then he'd damn well have been to a bunch of coaching clinics since 2007.

CN also conceded that Callahan was a control freak and may have handcuffed Cosgrove a little bit.

There are few things that I really like about this hire.

  1. Cosgrove appears to be a guy who will around for several seasons.  His son is on the current staff (at least was a grad assistant last year), he has a history with Brewster and his name is not one mentioned as a potential head coach down the road.  The Gopher defense has a new coordinator every year it seems so having some continuity and familiarity with someone over the next few seasons will be a great thing.
  2. He has a history of defending traditional offenses quite well.  This will greatly help us in rivalry games as Iowa and Wisconsin have yet to move to the spread.  These are games we have been unable to win in recent years so bringing home the Axe and Floyd would be a nice change.  If Cosgrove can help accomplish this then it will be a great hire.
  3. He has a history in the Big Ten.  This won't be new for him.  He has been a coordinator in the Big Ten and that familiarity should make the transition smoother and quicker.
  4. He is a linebackers coach.  We have a number of young LBs coming in (Maresh, Brent Singleton) and Cosgrove has been coaching linebackers since the 80s.  You can't question his experience.

What I don't like?

  1. Perceived inability to defend the spread.  Maybe we'll be fine against Iowa and Wisconsin, but the rest of the Big Ten runs the spread.  2-6 in conference every year will bring the Brewster era to a close sooner rather than later.  Obvoiusly his hire doesn't mean guaranteed losses to spread teams, but Cosgrove's history suggests he hasn't adapted very well to this.  Hopefully the help of Lee and a year off to think about things will greatly help this perceived weakness.
  2. Although known as a decent recruiter he doesn't have a history or close ties with a recruiting hot bed (south, Tex, Cali, Ohio, Penn, etc).  He is from Illinois, but that doesn't always translate into having inroads to Chicago area recruits.  
  3. Recent stint at Nebraska is disconcerting.  I've heard it many, many times from people who follow the Huskers.  2007 was the worst defense in Nebraska history.  37.9 ppg allowed, which is bad but it gets worse.  Gave up 65 to Colorado, 76 to Kansas and gave up 40+ four other times.  So half of their games they allowed 40 or more.  112th in yards allowed, 114th in points allowed, 116th in third down conversion and 116th in red zone scoring.  He is fortunate the Gophers were worse that season! Ronnie_lee_medium
This hire brings me mixed emotions.  Nothing about this hire has me fired up that this defense is going to be rock solid and one of the best in the B10.  But Cosgrove does bring some things to the table.  Obviously time will tell.  If the Tim Brewster experiment ultimately fails there is a good chance that this hire will be looked back on as one of the reasons he was unable to take this program to another level.  But this may also be a great fit for Cosgrove and he'll be in a situation to succeed.  The co-title with Ronnie Lee may be the most encouraging news in this hiring as his secondary experience and having been through the Big Ten for a couple seasons should  help a lot.  But as usual, these things will play out on the field regardless of what you or I think about it.   


Kevin Cosgrove Bio

Birthdate: December 27, 1955
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
High School: Mt. Carmel
College: Wisconsin-Oshkosh, 1978

Years Title Location
2004-2007 Defensive Coordinator & Inside Linebacker Coach Nebraska
1995-2003 Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach Wisconsin
1990-1994 Linebacker Coach Wisconsin
1989-1990 Linebacker Coach Colorado State
1988-1989 Defensive Coordinator & Linebacker Coach Missouri State
1983-1987 Linebacker Coach Illinois