Shortly after the 2021 season came to a close, PJ Fleck made the decision to move on from offensive coordinator Mike Sanford Jr. While the Gophers have had plenty of success running the football over the past two seasons, there’s been very little balance on that side of the football.

On Sunday, Fleck spoke about the decision to move on from Sanford and look for a new offensive coordinator. The head coach said it was time for Minnesota to go in a new direction.

“I just felt like we needed a change on offense,” Fleck said, per TwinCities.com. “Mike is a tremendous person and a wonderful football coach. I just felt like we needed a new direction in the leadership at the position, and we are working our way toward making a hire here very shortly.”

The top candidate is reportedly Kirk Ciarrocca, the mastermind behind Minnesota’s explosive offense in 2019 that led the program to an 11-2 record and an appearance in the Outback Bowl. Because of his success that season, Ciarrocca left the Gophers to pursue an opportunity at Penn State.

After just one season in Happy Valley, James Franklin moved on from Ciarrocca and brought in Mike Yurcich.

Ciarrocca was one Fleck’s staff for 7 seasons, dating back to Western Michigan. It would be a significant hire for the Gophers, one with a history of success.