DALLAS — York County native Kirk Ciarrocca will now be in charge of Penn State’s offense.
The highly successful assistant at the University of Minnesota grew up in Lewisberry and graduated from Red Land High. He also was a defensive back at Juniata College before moving on to Temple, where he graduated in 1990.
Ciarrocca’s hire was announced Thursday morning while the Nittany Lions are in Dallas preparing to play Memphis in Saturday’s Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium.
Ciarrocca, who also will coach quarterbacks, comes to Penn State with 18 years of experience as an offensive coordinator. He most recently helped lead the Golden Gophers to 10 victories, including one over the Lions in early November.
Penn State and head coach James Franklin were looking for an offensive coordinator since Ricky Rahne left to lead Old Dominion’s program following the regular season.
“We couldn’t be more excited to bring in someone of Kirk’s caliber to our Penn State football family,” Franklin said in a prepared statement. “He is a veteran coordinator who also has deep Pennsylvania roots and ties.
“His most recent successes as an offensive coordinator caught our eye. What impressed me most about Kirk in the hiring process was his humility and his willingness to make this an easy transition for our players.”
Ciarrocca spent the last three seasons as offensive coordinator and QB coach at Minnesota. His Gophers’ offense put up impressive numbers, including a record-breaking season for quarterback Tanner Morgan in 2019.
“I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to work at a program as rich in tradition as Penn State University,” Ciarrocca said in a release. “It is an honor and a privilege to join Coach Franklin’s staff and to work alongside such a successful head football coach. Having grown up a Penn State fan, I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as your offensive coordinator.”
The Gophers earned a 10-win regular season this year for the first time since 1905, thanks in part to the third-highest scoring offense in program history. Ciarrocca was selected as a semifinalist for the 2019 Broyles Award for the nation’s top assistant coach.
Morgan set program records for season passing yards, season touchdown passes and consecutive games with a touchdown pass on the way to second-team All-Big Ten honors. The Gophers featured a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in All-American and Big Ten Receiver of the Year Rashod Bateman and Tyler Johnson. Morgan was a semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien Award for the nation’s top quarterback, while Bateman was a semifinalist for the Biletnikoff Award for the best wide receiver in the country.
Before Minnesota, Ciarrocca was the offensive coordinator at Western Michigan for four seasons. In 2016, the Broncos finished ninth in FBS in points per game (41.57) as they won the Mid-American Conference — and earned a bit to the Cotton Bowl with a 13-1 record.
Ciarrocca also coached at Delaware (2012 – running backs), Richmond (2011 – quarterbacks) and Rutgers (2008-10 – co-offensive coordinator/QBs).
At Delaware, Ciarrocca helped guide the Blue Hens to the national championship in 2003 and mentored Super Bowl-winning quarterback Joe Flacco.
Ciarrocca’s early coaching stop included Penn, Princeton and Temple.
Penn State’s offense will be searching for more consistency in 2020. It was ranked third in the Big Ten this season in scoring, averaging 34.3 points per game. But it dropped to sixth in total offense (402.2 ypg.) and often disappeared for long stretches.