Earlier this month Penn State offensive coordinator Ricky Rahne was named the new head coach at Old Dominion University. This put James Franklin in the market for a new leader of his offense. According to a report from the Pioneer Press, CJF has found his man.
According to the report Minnesota Golden Gophers offensive coordinator Kirk Ciarrocca will be leaving the Twin Cities to take the same position in Happy Valley. Ciarrocca was also the quarterbacks coach for the Golden Gophers, so it is safe to assume he will handle these duties for the Nittany Lions as well.
Ciarrocca is a Pennsylvania native hailing from Lewisberry and is a graduate Juniata College where he played defensive back. He also got his coaching career started in the Keystone State as a graduate assistant at Temple in 1990 and 1991.
After various stops on the then D1-AA circuit, Ciarrocca landed as PJ Fleck’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at Western Michigan in 2013. He then followed Fleck to Minnesota in 2017. Since arriving in the Twin Cities his work has caught the attention of the college football world as Auburn tried to poach him following the 2017 season and West Virginia attempted to do the same last offseason.
Minnesota’s offense averaged 34.5 points per game this season. They were also in the top 10 nationally in drive efficiency and fewest three-and-outs. Their offense also did a great job of being able to be explosive and go tempo when need be, but also going into ball control mode to grind the clock when necessary. The ability to do alternate between the two was on full display in Minnesota’s victory over the Nittany Lions this season.
By all accounts Ciarrocca is a strong hire. His work as a quarterback coach is well documented, especially the work he did with backup turned all-conference caliber performer Tanner Morgan this season. Ciarrocca runs a lot of RPO concepts mixed with a power run game out of the spread. So, his offense is similar to what Penn State has been running the past four seasons which should make for a smooth transition. Next to the Joe Brady pipe dream, Ciarrocca was a my personal favorite among the potential candidates for the job. So, for my money, this is an excellent hire by CJF.
Welcome to Happy Valley, Coach Ciarrocca!