The Gopher defense was much maligned for most of the 2018 season (and 2017 for that matter). After giving up record yards and points against Nebraska and Illinois, PJ Fleck made the decision to fire Robb Smith, his defensive coordinator. Joe Rossi was named the interim coordinator for the rest of the season.
After the defense made remarkable progress in the three games under Rossi. They held Purdue, one of the Big Ten’s best offenses to just 10 points. Northwestern scored 24 and then just this afternoon they held Wisconsin in check as the Gophers won the axe for the first time in 15 years.
Following the game, PJ Fleck took the interim tag off of Rossi, naming him the team’s permanent defensive coordinator. A bold move in what many consider the biggest hiring decision in Fleck’s career. But the turnaround by the defense was unexpected and quite dramatic. Rossi has earned the promotion.