P.J. Fleck plans to stick with what has worked for him on offense. The new Gophers football coach will bring Western Michigan’s Kirk Ciarrocca with him to Minnesota as the team’s next offensive coordinator, a source told the Star Tribune.
Ciarrocca, 51, spent the past four years as Fleck’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Western Michigan. The Broncos ranked ninth in the nation in scoring offense this past season, averaging 41.6 points per game.
In addition, Fleck has chosen a longtime, successful offensive line coach in Ohio State’s Ed Warinner, the source said.
Warinner, 55, worked as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator/tight ends coach this past season, but Ohio State moved in a new direction Tuesday by hiring former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson to fill those roles. Warinner had previously been the Buckeyes’ offensive coordinator/offensive line coach.
Warinner also has coached the offensive line at Notre Dame, Kansas, Illinois, Army and Air Force. Some of his honors include 2014 FootballScoop offensive line coach of the year, and 2014 Rivals.com Top 25 recruiter.
Ciarrocca has a reputation for developing quarterbacks, including Baltimore Ravens veteran Joe Flacco, when they were at Delaware last decade.
Ciarrocca also helped mold Western Michigan senior quarterback Zach Terrell, who went to the school with no offers from Power Five programs, and passed for 33 touchdowns this past season with only four interceptions. Senior wide receiver Corey Davis blossomed into an NFL prospect with 1,500 receiving yards.
Western Michigan ran a spread-option offense and ran the ball 634 times, with 378 passing attempts. The 13-1 Broncos had the nation’s 25th-ranked rushing offense, 49th-ranked passing offense and had the fewest turnovers in the country with eight.
Ciarrocca spent the 2008-10 seasons at Rutgers as a co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. According to mlive.com, Ciarrocca helped Fleck land at Rutgers as well in 2010, after Fleck coached receivers at Northern Illinois, his alma mater.
Ciarrocca and Fleck were reunited at WMU early in 2013, a few weeks after Fleck was announced as the school’s head coach.
Terms of the deals were not yet known. According to USA Today, Warinner made $654,500 last season at Ohio State and Ciarrocca made $320,000 at WMU.
Change is also coming to the Gophers’ defense. Former defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel is currently weighing three opportunities — one in the Big Ten, two in the ACC — a source familiar with his situation said Tuesday.
Sawvel met with Fleck on Saturday, a source said, but both have moved in different directions. ESPN reported that Fleck will hire Robb Smith from Arkansas to be Minnesota’s defensive coordinator, though Gophers sources have yet to confirm this.
Fleck told WCCO (830-AM) on Sunday that he hopes to have his coaching staff filled by Thursday.