Assistant coaches have been the theme of a busy week for the Gophers, who kept their offensive coordinator, lost their defensive line coach and had their newest hire receive a major honor.
On Tuesday, Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca turned down an offer to join the staff of new West Virginia coach Neal Brown, while Minnesota defensive line coach Marcus West announced he was leaving the program after one season to become assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Charlotte, a Conference USA team.
And on Wednesday, former Maine coach Joe Harasymiak, who was hired by the Gophers in December to be a defensive assistant coach, was named FCS coach of the year by the American Football Coaches Association.
Harasymiak, 32, led the Black Bears to a 10-4 record that included the Colonial Athletic Association championship and appearance in the FCS semifinals, the deepest playoff run in school history.
Harasymiak’s role with the Gophers under defensive coordinator Joe Rossi has not been announced. He began his career at Maine as a restricted earnings coach in 2011 while Rossi was Black Bears defensive coordinator.
Gophers getting noticed
Add CBS Sports’ senior college football writer Dennis Dodd to the national media members who expect big things from the Gophers in 2019 following their strong finish to 2018 that included a 34-10 victory over Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl.
In his Way Too Early Top 25 for 2019, Dodd lists the Gophers at No. 23, writing, “P.J. Fleck is making tangible progress in the Twin Cities. Beginning in November, the Gophers beat Purdue, Wisconsin and Georgia Tech in the bowl game.’’
Other Big Ten teams in Dodd’s way too early rankings are: No. 6 Ohio State, No. 10 Michigan, No. 12 Penn State, No. 17 Wisconsin, No. 18 Nebraska, No. 20 Iowa and No. 25 Northwestern. That’s eight Big Ten teams represented, including five from the West Division.
Earlier in the week, Bill Bender of Sporting News had the Gophers as No. 25 in his Pre-Preseason Top 25.