The Pioneer Press’ Andy Greder is reporting that Minnesota offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca is leaving to take the same position at Penn State, replacing previous offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne, who recently accepted the head coaching gig at Old Dominion.
It is unclear whether Ciarrocca will coach for the Gophers in the Outback Bowl next week.
Ciarrocca nearly left a year ago for West Virginia but experienced a change of heart overnight. He opted to return to Minnesota and led an offense that finished the regular season tied for 22nd nationally in scoring offense (34.3 points per game), tied for 47th in rushing offense (175.7 rushing yards per game), and 51st in passing offense (251.2 passing yards per game). With Ciarrocca calling the plays, Minnesota also saw quarterback Tanner Morgan break the single-season school records for passing yards and passing touchdowns, and Tyler Johnson and Rashod Bateman were the first teammates to be first-team All-Big Ten wide receivers in the same season.
He was due for a raise after head coach P.J. Fleck’s contract extension made available $1.05 million to boost the salaries of his assistant coaches in 2020. Presumably the offer from Penn State upped his salary even further, but I suspect family was also a factor in his decision. Ciarrocca is originally from Pennsylvania and his family still lives in the area.
This is likely to be difficult for Fleck personally, as he and Ciarrocca have been together since Fleck took the helm at Western Michigan in 2013. There are certainly internal options in wide receivers coach Matt Simon and tight ends coach Clay Patterson, so it will be interesting to see whom Fleck hires in his first offensive coordinator search since becoming head coach.