It all happened so fast. We went from a quiet offseason of watching other teams change coordinators and reshuffle staffs to having a flurry of potential activity of our own.
On the offensive side of the ball is started with this tweet.
West Virginia had just hired Neal Brown as their head coach. It turns out that Brown and Ciarrocca have a history together and are friends. The prospect of more money and building something with Brown at West Virginia had intrigued Ciarrocca. At one point this appeared to be very close to reality.
But the reality was that Ciarrocca decided to stay with Coach Fleck and the Gophers. This should be a relief for Gopher fans. Essentially the entire offense is returning and Ciarrocca should have several weapons at his disposal. For the offense there is continuity, the playbook remains the same and this offense has a chance to be pretty good.
Staying on the offensive side of the ball, rumors persisted that wide receivers coach, Matt Simon was also being pursued. By all accounts, Simon has been an excellent receivers coach and is well respected. The fact that he is being sought after by other programs and likely given a broader role is tip of the cap to Simon as well as Fleck’s ability to put together an elite staff.
The 33-year old coach, and Minnesota native, inevitably decided to also stay on staff. Simon is going to be a coach to watch in subsequent seasons as his star may be rising. That may mean he takes on a broader role in Minnesota or is given a larger opportunity somewhere else. Again, his staying is fortuitous for the Gophers and their young receivers.
Flipping to the defensive side of the ball, this is where the Gophers did lose a position coach in Marcus West who was the team’s defensive line coach for one season. Just one year of coaching the position but West’s most immediate value was in recruiting. He is being promoted to Co-Defensive Coordinator, Ast Head Coach and defensive line for Charlotte. He is going to a smaller school but getting a couple better titles on his resume, you can’t blame him for this.
Also rumored, though unconfirmed, was defensive backs coach Jahmile Addae flirting with West Virginia. If anything comes of this, we will certainly pass it along. But for now, this does not appear to have any legs.
So after about 24 hours of fretting who was leaving, where were they going, why and who was going to replace them...we have just one spot to fill. These things are always fluid and there may be more who leave, but for now this appears to be a pretty stable staff returning.
As mentioned earlier, other teams wanting to poach our coaches is a good thing. We have coaches potentially earning a promotion and being desired by other coaches. Even better is that nearly all of them are staying.
Staff continuity is vital to a program, especially at the coordinator position.