The Gophers soccer program is working on the return of Kirk Chiarrocca, sources confirmed to Pioneer Press on Thursday.
One source said Minnesota has “several plans” for its former offensive coordinator. This confirmed a message from Yahoo that U was targeting Ciarrocca.
Chiarrocca left Minnesota after a historic 11-2 season in 2019, and the Pennsylvania native went home to work as the Pennsylvania offensive coordinator for 2020. He was fired after one season with Nittany Lyons and was an offensive analyst in the West last season. Virginia under the guidance of head coach and friend Neil Brown.
Minnesota parted ways with Chiarrocca’s successor Mike Sanford Jr. this week after two seasons that fell short of the levels U reached with Chiarrocca in 2019. Gophers dropped to 84th place in the country in terms of the number of points scored (26.3 points per game) in 2021. ; in 2019 they were ranked 21st in the country (34.1).
Gophers head coach P. Jay Fleck appointed Chiarrocca as offensive coordinator and defensive coach for four seasons in Western Michigan, followed by the first three seasons in Minnesota. Fleck’s stated preference is for the OC to be QB’s coach as well. Chiarrocca did this at U in 2017-19, and Sanford continued on these paired duties in 2020-2021.
If Chiarrocca returns, he will see many familiar faces among the staff. Throughout Fleck’s five seasons, offensive coaches have remained largely untouched – running coach Kenny Burns, offensive line coach Brian Callahan, and foster coach Matt Simon.
When Chiarrocca left at the end of December 2019, Simon called the Outback Bowl a victory over Auburn and became coordinator of the joint attack with Sanford. Simon, Sanford, and others worked together on the game plans, but it was Sanford who called games within games.
Simon’s growing role in U may be part of a “few plans” comment made by someone with direct knowledge of the situation.
Ciarrocca also worked with starting guard Tanner Morgan during the 2017-19 season. Morgan became a QB starter midway through the 2018 season, and in 2019 Morgan became the second All-Big Ten team under Ciarrocca’s tutelage. Morgan, who has declined in the two years with Sanford, said over the weekend that he will return to Minnesota for a sixth season in 2022.
In Ciarrocca’s only year in Pennsylvania, Nittany Lions were 59th in points scored (29.8 points per game) and 37th in total attacks (430 yards per game) in 2020. Led by West Virginia attack coordinator Jake Spavital, the climbers were in the 70s. scoring and all-out assault in 2021.