Minnesota hires Mike Sanford Jr. as co-offensive coordinator

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              Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck, right, hugs wide receiver Tyler Johnson after Minnesota defeated Auburn during the Outback Bowl NCAA college football game Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck hired Mike Sanford Jr. and promoted Matt Simon to fill his offensive coordinator vacancy Friday.

Sanford, who will also serve as quarterbacks coach, held the dual role at Utah State in 2019. He was the head coach for Western Kentucky for two seasons prior to that, after stints as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame (2015-16) and Boise State (2014). Sanford has also been on staff at Stanford, Yale and UNLV. He played quarterback for Boise State.

Simon, who will continue as wide receivers coach, had his title elevated to co-offensive coordinator after handling the play calling in the Outback Bowl victory over Auburn on Wednesday. The Gophers had 494 total yards in a 31-24 win to finish 11-2.

Sanford and Simon will replace Kirk Ciarrocca, who had served as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach under Fleck since he became head coach at Western Michigan in 2013, following him to Minnesota in 2017. Ciarrocca was hired last week by Penn State for the same post.