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B1G Coaching Carousel 2021 - Part 2: Mike Sanford out as Minnesota OC

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Mike Sanford Jr. removed from Minnesota Offensive Coordinator role

Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Previously in the B1G coaching carousel offseason, we saw Indiana start over at offensive coordinator. Today brings news that the Minnesota Gophers will also be featuring a new offense in 2022 as Mike Sanford Jr. is not being retaining for next year. Sanford’s contract was set to expire some time in January so the buyout money being paid here is negligible.

Sanford’s contract paid him $650k/year and P.J. Fleck’s contract extension signed earlier this fall gave him an extra $350k/year to distribute among all his assistants so Fleck should have a decent but not game breaking budget to play with here as he finds a replacement.

I’m not really sure who the candidates are here beyond the usual suspects of hiring a G5 OC or promoting within. Receivers coach Matt Simon technically has the title of “co-offensive coordinator” currently but it’s not like the receivers were great this year. Offensive line coach Brian Callahan carries the title of “run-game coordinator” and the Gophers had a really good run offense this year, but without bringing in a coach with passing experience P.J. Fleck may struggle to recruit good QBs and WRs moving forward. Simon’s and Callahan’s contracts are also set to expire in January. One unusual solution the Gophers could try is to bring back Kirk Ciarrocca, Sanford’s immediate predecessor, who put together the 22nd best offense per points/game in his final season with the Gophers. But there may be some bad blood there as Ciarrocca left for in-conference opponent Penn State where he lasted just a COVID 2020 season before being upgraded.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 27 Wisconsin at Minnesota Photo by Matt Blewett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sanford’s offense had plenty of bright moments this past season: it saw outputs of 31, 31, 30, 30, 34, 41, and 35 points. Sanford was able to accomplish this despite losing his top RB in game 1 of the season. But the reason Sanford was let go today has to do with the loss of production out of Tanner Morgan and quite frankly a huge step back from where Morgan was in 2019. Sure, Morgan had some fantastic receivers to work with at the time but he still should be improving as a QB as he gains experience and that should make up for the loss of receivers to the NFL. Sanford had the responsibility as the QB coach/OC to further the development of Morgan, but his one-dimensional offense failed to do so. As a result Minnesota finishes a game out in the division race and P.J. Fleck has made the decision to move on and try someone different with no financial dead money added to the Minnesota football program.

Thoughts from our Minnesota contributors:

WSR: Well, I’m of two thoughts here.

First is that much like some other B1G programs, everything is based on what the head coach wants. And Fleck loves to take some possessions out of the game and be a bit risk-averse at times. So while Gopher fans may want a more wide-open offense, we’re not going to get that while the best coach since the 1960s is in charge here.

On the other hand, fuckity bye. You really tried to shoehorn Tanner Morgan into a YOLO-ball passing game? Get the hell out of here you dipshit. None of this offense was built around what he was trying to do, and when we finally incorporated quick passing again things clicked. Goddamnit, you absolute moron.


Happy? Sad? Scared Minnesota might beat Wisconsin by more next season? Let us know in the comments.

Non B1G P5 Head Coach Openings we are watching for carousel effects:

Oklahoma - rumored to be nearing a deal with Brent Venables

LSU - rumored to be nearing a deal with Brian Kelly (which would open up a job that many B1G coaches would take). Keep an eye on this one B1G fans of successful teams this year as this could make things ugly for one of our programs. UPDATE: This appears to be definitely happening

Virginia Tech

Washington – Kalen DeBoer rumored to be the guy. UPDATE: DeBoer has been named the new Washington coach

Washington State (interim coach may keep it?)

Duke