Fleck Fires Defensive Coordinator After Illinois Disaster
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota defensive coordinator Robb Smith has been fired, with the Gophers allowing an average of more than 43 points per game in Big Ten play.
Coach P.J. Fleck made the announcement Sunday night. He named defensive line coach Joe Rossi the interim defensive coordinator.
Fleck hired Smith last year upon taking over the program at Minnesota, having spent two seasons with Smith as assistants together at Rutgers. The 43-year-old Smith was the defensive coordinator at Arkansas for four seasons before joining the Gophers.
"These decisions are always difficult, especially when they involve a close friend and colleague," said Fleck. "I want to thank Robb, Amy and their family for all the time and energy they spent helping our program grow. Robb is an elite man and will always be a dear friend of mine."
Star safety Antoine Winfield Jr. injured his foot in the conference opener at Maryland, and the defense hasn't recovered. The Gophers gave up 430 rushing yards on Saturday in a 55-31 loss at Illinois. Four touchdowns by the Illini covered 67 yards or more.