For the second time in three years, Kirk Ciarrocca is leaving the Gophers football team to become another Big Ten school's offensive coordinator.
Ciarrocca is expected to become Rutgers' next offensive coordinator with a three-year guaranteed contract that will pay him $1.5 million per season, a source familiar with the move said.
The news of Rutgers' pursuit of Ciarrocca was first reported by ESPN's Pete Thamel. In December 2019, when the Gophers were coming off a 10-2 regular season and preparing for the Outback Bowl, Ciarrocca left for Penn State.
He lasted just one season at Penn State, spending one year as an analyst at West Virginia before rejoining P.J. Fleck and the Gophers for the 2022 season. Minnesota finished 9-4, and Ciarrocca was rewarded with a two-year contract extension through the 2025 season that raised his average salary to $950,000.
Fleck and Ciarrocca both worked at Rutgers under coach Greg Schiano, who went 4-8 last season in his third year back with the Scarlet Knights.
Ciarrocca also worked as quarterbacks coach for the Gophers, who are building around strong-armed sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis. There are often concerns when a coach leaves that it will spur players to transfer.
But on Thursday night, Kaliakmanis tweeted: "I love this culture. I love this team. I can't wait to get after it this off-season with the guys!"
Fleck has a co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach on his staff in Matt Simons. When Ciarrocca left Minnesota the first time, Fleck replaced him with Mike Sanford Jr., who had been a coordinator at Notre Dame and a head coach at Western Kentucky.
The Gophers' offense sputtered under Sanford, which led to Ciarrocca's return.
This past season, the Gophers ranked 66th in the nation in scoring offense at 28.2 points per game. This was up from the previous year's 25.5 points per game under Sanford, but nearly a touchdown less than the 34.1 points per game they scored under Ciarrocca in 2019.
When the Gophers signed Ciarrocca to his latest contract, three weeks ago, they protected themselves in case he were to leave again. He owes the university a $275,000 contract buyout for leaving in the first year of the new deal.