It's official: Red Land grad, former Penn State OC, returns to his roots at Minnesota

KYLE J. ANDREWS
Centre Daily Times (TNS)
Coach James Franklin announced Kirk Ciarrocca, a 1983 Red Land High School from Lewsiberry, has joined the staff as the team's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

A former Penn State offensive coordinator is headed back to the Big Ten.

Red Land High School graduate Kirk Ciarrocca was hired by Minnesota as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, head coach P.J. Fleck announced Monday. Ciarrocca previously served in the role from 2017-2019.

Ciarrocca served the 2020 season as offensive coordinator for Penn State and took a role as an offensive analyst at West Virginia in 2021. Penn State's offense ranked second in the Big Ten in total offense (430.3 yards per game), third in scoring (29.8 points per game), fourth in passing (256.0 yards per game) and fifth in rushing (174.3 yards per game).

However, Penn State went 4-5 in 2020 with their scoring going from 35.8 points per game under offensive coordinator and now-Old Dominion head coach Ricky Rahne in 2019 to 29.8 under Ciarrocca. Under current offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich, the Nittany Lions have scored 26.3 points per game, ranking 82nd in the country.

The 56-year old served as Fleck's offensive coordinator at Western Michigan for four seasons (2013-2016), spending seven total seasons as an offensive coordinator under Fleck.

"We are excited to welcome Kirk back to Minnesota," said Fleck via Gopher Sports. "Kirk is one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, but he is also a tremendous person. We have a long professional history of working together, and I look forward to reuniting with him. " Coach Brown and I have known each other for a long time and have a great relationship."

According to Gopher Sports, Ciarrocca will not be coaching in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28, where Minnesota is set to take on West Virginia.

"With Kirk having worked at both schools, we both agreed to not have Kirk coach in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with his knowledge of both teams personnel," Fleck said. "When we made the decision to hire Kirk, we did not yet know our bowl opponent. Coach (Neal) Brown and I both thought this would be best to avoid any awkwardness for both sets of student-athletes. It's the right thing to do."

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan had his best season to date in 2019 under Ciarrocca. He went 210-for-318 (66%) for 3,253 yards, 30 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Wide receiver Tyler Johnson had 86 receptions for 1,318 yards and 13 touchdowns and fellow wide receiver Rashod Bateman had 60 receptions, 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns. Running backs Rodney Smith, Mohamed Ibrahim and Shannon Brooks combined for 415 carries, 2,175 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground in 2019.