Bart Miller, the offensive line coach at Florida Atlantic for the past two seasons, has been hired by Tracy Claeys to fill the same position for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, replacing Matt Limegrover, the former offensive coordinator and line coach who was fired back in November.
Miller is no stranger to the Big Ten, having served as the offensive line coach at Wisconsin in 2012 under then head coach Bret Bielema. He was even named one of the Big Ten's Best Assistants by ESPN.com after his offensive line paved the way for a Badger rushing attack that averaged 237.8 yards per game, having averaged a less than impressive 101 yards per game the previous season. Three of his offensive linemen that season were named All-Big Ten and drafted to the NFL.
The previous year, Miller was an offensive graduate assistant and quality control coach for the Badgers before being promoted. Once Bielema left for Arkansas, Miller was hired as the offensive line coach at New Mexico State. Prior to his stint at Wisconsin, his coaching career began at New Mexico State as an offensive graduate assistant in 2010. His playing career was as an offensive lineman at New Mexico from 2003-07.
Miller will have his work cut out for him this offseason. The Gophers' offensive line was a mess for much of 2015, in large part due to injuries. Three starters return on the offensive line next year, but a slew of seniors depart, including Joe Bjorklund, Brian Bobek, Foster Bush, Josh Campion, Jon Christenson, and Ben Lauer. Junior college transfers Vincent Calhoun and Garrison Wright will be expected to provide immediate help along the offensive line.
But it sounds like Miller is no stranger to having to work with a patchwork offensive line. Just check out this blurb from his official bio at Florida Atlantic:
[In 2014,] Miller's opening day line was left tackle Reggie Bain, a true freshman, left guard Mikingson Marsaille, one of squad's biggest players who had seen limited action the year before due to injury, senior Braden Lyons, a senior moving from right end to center, a position he had never played, redshirt-sophomore Dillion DeBoer, who had started the final six games of his freshman campaign, at right guard, and senior Eric Minemyer, who drew his first start after switching back and forth to tight end. By season's end, 11 guys had seen playing time, Bain earned freshman All-America honors by 247Sports.com, and true freshman Joe Gold had served as the center in seven games allowing Lyons to move back to his natural spot at right tackle. The unit better known as the "Atlantic Wall" blocked for 10 different ball carriers who amassed 1,962 yards, just shy of the program record setting 2012 campaign.
Personally, I think this is a more than solid hire. I can't imagine the offensive line won't benefit from a position coach who isn't also serving as offensive coordinator. His experience at Wisconsin is also a huge plus. Good work here, Claeys. Welcome to Minnesota, Bart Miller! Glad to have you.