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Minnesota’s Kirk Ciarrocca Named Penn State Offensive Coordinator

by on December 26, 2019 10:18 AM

It seems like James Franklin must’ve liked what he saw from Minneota’s offense when Tanner Morgan, Rashod Bateman, and Tyler Johnson shredded his secondary in Penn State’s loss to the Golden Gophers last month.

Kirk Ciarrocca is leaving Minnesota to serve as Penn State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the spots left vacant by Ricky Rahne when he took the head coaching job at Old Dominion, the team announced Thursday. Ciarrocca held the same role for the Gophers for the past three seasons.

The Pioneer Press first reported it a few hours before Penn State’s announcement.

“We couldn’t be more excited to bring in someone of Kirk’s caliber to our Penn State football family,” Franklin said in a release. “He is a veteran coordinator who also has deep Pennsylvania roots and ties. His most recent successes as an offensive coordinator caught our eye. What impressed me most about Kirk in the hiring process was his humility and his willingness to make this an easy transition for our players. We are thrilled to welcome Kirk and his family home to Pennsylvania and to Happy Valley!”

“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work at a program as rich in tradition as Penn State University,” Ciarrocca said in the release. “It is an honor and a privilege to join Coach Franklin’s staff and to work alongside such a successful head football coach. Having grown up a Penn State fan, I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as your offensive coordinator. My family and I are overjoyed to be coming home to Happy Valley.”

Ciarrocca had previously worked with Gopher head coach PJ Fleck dating back to their days at Western Michigan together. However, as of late, he had recently been a popular target among top Power Five teams seeking a new offensive coordinator. He’s a native of Lewisberry, Pa., so the decision to come east certainly makes sense for him.

At Minnesota, Ciarrocca helped oversee the program’s turnaround from a mostly forgettable Big Ten West opponent to a team that had a direct shot at the College Football Playoff in mid-November before falling apart in the closing weeks of the season. Under Ciarrocca, the Gophers’ offense skyrocketed from 22 points per game when he and Fleck arrived to 34.3 this season.

Under Ciarrocca's tutelage, Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan set team records for passing yards and touchdown passes in a season on his way to a second-team All-Big Ten selection in 2019. Minnesota also had a pair of 1,000-yard receivers this year, with All-American and Big Ten Receiver of the Year Rashod Bateman and All-Big Ten first-teamer Tyler Johnson.

Ciarrocca was a semi-finalist for the 2019 Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach.

After playing defensive back at Juniata, Ciarrocca graduated from Temple. He spent six years as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Delaware, where he mentored QB Joe Flacco and helped the Blue Hens to the Division I-AA national championship in 2003.

He held positions at Rutgers and Richmond before joining Fleck at Western Michigan in 2013.

Anthony Colucci is a writer for Onward State
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