Minnesota re-hires Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

Frank Bodani, York Daily Record

MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota re-hired Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, after sagging production during the two seasons he was elsewhere.

Coach P.J. Fleck‘s reunion with Ciarrocca was initiated after Mike Sanford was dismissed following the expiration of his contract. Sanford held the dual role for the Gophers the last two years.

Ciarrocca was Fleck’s offensive coordinator at Western Michigan from 2013-16 and at Minnesota from 2017-19 until taking the same position at Penn State in 2020. He was fired after one season there and spent 2021 with West Virginia in a non-coaching role as an offensive analyst.

Coincidentally, Minnesota and West Virginia are matched up in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28. Ciarrocca agreed to take the job before the bowl pairings were revealed.

The Gophers announced that Ciarrocca will not coach in the bowl game, after conversation between Fleck and West Virginia coach Neal Brown. Wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator Matt Simon will be the play-caller for Minnesota in the bowl game.

In 2019, with future NFL wide receivers Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson in the lineup, the Gophers were second in the Big Ten in scoring and third in yardage. Ciarrocca was named one of 15 semifinalists for the Broyles Award, presented annually to the top assistant coach in college football. Quarterback Tanner Morgan set several single-season program records including passing yards (3,253), touchdown passes (30) and completion percentage (66.0).

In 2021, the Gophers dropped to eighth in the Big Ten in scoring and ninth in yardage. Morgan’s production was well off his 2019 pace, with 1,935 passing yards, 10 touchdown passes and a 59.5 completion percentage. Morgan has decided to return for a sixth season in 2022.

Alabama suspends freshman defensive back after drug arrest

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Alabama freshman defensive back Tony Mitchell has been suspended from the team following his arrest on a drug charge.

Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban said Monday after the first practice of spring that Mitchell was suspended from the team “and all team activities until we gather more information about the situation and what his legal circumstance is.”

The Holmes County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mitchell and another man, Christophere Lewis, last week on a charge of possession of marijuana with the intent to sell or deliver, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page. Lewis also was charged with carrying a concealed gun without a permit.

“Everybody’s got an opportunity to make choices and decisions,” Saban said. “There’s no such thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. You’ve gotta be responsible for who you’re with, who you’re around and what you do, who you associate yourself with and the situations that you put yourself in. It is what it is, but there is cause and effect when you make choices and decisions that put you in bad situations.”

Mitchell, who is from Alabaster, Alabama, was a five-star prospect rated the 34th-best player and No. 3 safety in the 247Composite rankings.

Mitchell was driving the vehicle during a traffic stop. After deputies smelled marijuana, Mitchell picked up a baggie of marijuana from the passenger floorboard, according to the department’s Facebook post.

Sheriff’s deputies found “an additional significant amount of marijuana, a set of scales, a loaded handgun between the passenger seat and center console, and a large amount of cash,” according to the department’s Facebook post.

Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey suspended after arrest

Saul Young/News Sentinel/USA TODAY NETWORK

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri linebacker Chad Bailey was suspended from the team after he was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, the team said.

The 23-year-old, who was a team captain last season, was booked at about 2:45 a.m. and released after posting $500 bond, according to online records from the Boone County Sheriff’s Office.

“We are aware of the situation involving Chad Bailey,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said in a statement to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s been suspended according to Department of Athletics policy. We have high expectations for all of our student-athletes, on and off the field, and we will follow all departmental and campus policies.”

Bailey was Mizzou’s third-leading tackler with 57 stops last season. He started all 11 games he played, missing two with an injury. He’ll be a sixth-year senior this fall after opting to return for his final year of eligibility, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The Missouri student-athlete handbook says any athlete who is arrested must serve a minimum one-week suspension.

Bailey was pulled over at about 1 a.m. not far from the Columbia campus for an expired license plate and lane violation, a police statement said. Bailey told the officer he had consumed alcohol and then performed poorly on a field sobriety test, the Post-Dispatch reported.