Joe Christensen covered Major League Baseball for 15 years, including three seasons at the Baltimore Sun and eight at the Star Tribune, before switching to the college football beat. He’s a Faribault, Minn., native who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1996. He covered Jim Wacker’s Gophers for the Minnesota Daily and also wrote about USC, UCLA and the Rose Bowl for the Riverside Press-Enterprise before getting this chance to cover football again.

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Gophers finally make official announcement

Posted by: under College football Updated: January 20, 2010 - 5:06 PM

Greetings:

 

Well, the Gophers finally made it official from their end, announcing the departure of offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch to Seattle. Here is the release, in its entirety:

 

University of Minnesota head football coach Tim Brewster announced today that offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch has decided to return to the National Football League and has accepted a position on Pete Carroll's new staff with the Seattle Seahawks.

Fisch worked eight seasons in the NFL and was the Denver Broncos' wide receivers coach prior to joining the Minnesota coaching staff last January.

"Great people are always going to be in demand," Brewster said. "It's a part of the profession in which we work. This is a great opportunity for Jedd and I want to thank him for all of his efforts on behalf of our program. I wish him the best."

Brewster said he is already in the process of conducting a nationwide search and indicated that he will move quickly to fill the Gophers' offensive coordinator position.

 

That's all of it.

Now, What should we make of the Jedd Fisch era?

The knee-jerk reaction is to look at how the Gophers finished at or near the bottom of the Big Ten in just about every offensive category and think that it's no big loss.

This, to me, is a very interesting situation. Here is a guy who comes here for a year, the offense struggles, and he gets a pretty good job on a new NFL staff. The job of coaching quarterbacks is a good on in the NFL. It is an important rung on the the path to becoming a coordinator and, ultimately, a head coach. And everybody knows being a head coach is Fisch's ultimate goal.

For a local example or two, consider some of the folks who held the job of quarterbacks coach for one Brett Favre: Steve Mariucci, Andy Reid, Darrell Bevell, among others.

My point: Being an NFL QBs coach is a good job. The fact is, despite what did or didn't happen with the Gophers offense this season, Fisch remains high on a lot of peoples'  lists as far as young, bright, offensive coaches go.

So what happened with the Gophers? Here some of my quick takes: 

1. Fisch was always an NFL guy at heart, where he wanted to be. He was let go when Mike Shanahan was fired in Denver, needed a job, and had a shot at being an offensive coordinator.

2. No matter what happened here with the Gophers, Fisch was not going to be here long. If the Gophers had been super productive on offense, he may have parlayed that into an NFL OC position.

3. Did he throw too much complexity at a bunch of college kids? Perhaps. No, check that. I think he did. I still believe Fisch is an innovative thinker with a good future. I think he will reach his goals. So why did he try to do so much so soon here? Maybe he was trying to show future employers how complex and creative he could be.

Had he stayed, I think the Gophers offense would have experienced a big bump in production in Fisch's second season. This will remain only an opinion because we'll never know. But I do know this: No offensive coordinator can thrive when there are such obvious holes as the Gophers offense had last season. They were, in no particular order: Unimpressive play along the offensive line which led to a struggling running game. And that just put more pressure on quarterback Adam Weber and a group of young receivers.

Much is made of the step back Weber made. I believe Weber is a talented kid. I don't think he is so great as to be able to, on his own, make up for such shortcomings. There are a precious few QBs who could. In the upcoming season the Gophers, bolstered by recruits and with redshirts Ed Olson and Brooks Michel ready to play, should have much better offensive line play. I think we'll see a corresponding improvement in the running game. And, by extension, the passing game.

So, going forward, who's the next OC?

Message boards and tweets and rumors are already circulating. There will be no shortage of capable folks interested in the job. Will Brewster's pledge to keep the same offense making hiring a good OC more difficult? I don't think so. I think Brewster is looking for continuity of scheme, but is willing to hire a coach who is creative, no matter his background.

I think that means it's possible Brewster would go with an OC with spread experience. That wouldn't mean a return to the spread. But think about it: How often did the Gophers go with multiple WRs, with a single back in a shotgun set last season. A lot.

All that said, Weber will be dealing with his fourth OC in five years. Receivers like Troy Stoudermire and Brandon Green  and Da'Jon McKnight will be getting their third OC in three years.

 

OK. That's it from me for now. Have a good night.

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