Gophers Hire Rutgers LB Coach Corey Hetherman as New Defensive Coordinator

Photo: Maine Athletics

The Minnesota Gophers are hiring Rutgers linebackers coach, Corey Hetherman, as their next defensive coordinator. Hetherman will replace Joe Rossi, who took the same job (and a hefty pay raise) at Michigan State.

Related: Gophers Koi Perich Snags Interception, Blocks Punt in All-American Bowl MVP Performance

Minnesota Gophers hire Corey Hetherman as new defensive coordinator

PJ Fleck couldn’t go after his former secondary coach, Joe Harasymiak this offseason, after Rutgers got ahead of the game and signed him to an extension and pay increase this offseason prior to the Minnesota job opening.

So, Fleck went out and hired the next best thing, their linebackers coach and Harasymiak confidant, Corey Hetherman, who our own Matt Johnson projected as a high-ranking choice for Fleck back before Christmas, when he wrote about potential DC options to replace Rossi.

Scarlet Knights linebackers coach Corey Hetherman joined the program in 2022, hand-picked by Harasymiak to develop Rutgers’ linebackers. Before that, Hetherman was the defensive play-caller at James Madison (2019-’21).

Leadership is obviously another factor Fleck is considering during his search. Hetherman offers that trait, serving as associate head coach at James Madison where he worked under Curt Cignetti, one of the most well-respected head coaches in the Group of Five. Minnesota would be the next step up in Hetherman’s career and he could also help the Golden Gophers’ defense take a step forward in 2024.

Matt Johnson – Minnesota Sports Fan (Dec. 23)

Rutgers defense ranked 8th in the Big Ten in points allowed per game (21.2) and 6th in yards allowed per game (313.5). Most importantly though, it seems Hetherman is a PJ Fleck ‘Row The Boat’ kind of guy.

While at James Madison (FCS), Hetherman’s defenses were awesome, finishing all three seasons top-10 nationwide in points against, but they were always near the top in turnovers forced. In 2021, they finished 1st in takeaways (31), first in rush yards allowed (<90 YPG) and 1st in third down conversion rate against (27.2%).

Related: Gophers Hire Decorated Coach Bob Ligashesky as Special Teams Coordinator

Rutgers Football [handshake emoji] Minnesota Football

At this point, we can call Rutgers Minnesota’s sister program, as the two swap coaches just about as often as they swap players, and both happen very frequently of late.

As mentioned, the Scarlett Knights’ current defensive coordinator Joe Harasymiak was once a high-ranking defensive coach under Joe Rossi. And their offensive coordinator, Kirk Ciarrocca, has coached most of his D1 career with or under PJ Fleck.

You might remember, as well, that Rutgers’ new quarterback, Athan Kaliakmanis, was QB1 for the Gophers last season. His wide receiver brother, Dino, made the trip out East as well.

Corey Hetherman Coaching History (via Rutgers bio)

  • 2022-23: Rutgers (linebackers)
  • 2021: James Madison (defensive coordinator/associate head coach/defensive line)
  • 2019-21: James Madison (defensive coordinator/defensive ends)
  • 2016-18: Maine (defensive coordinator)
  • 2015: Maine (defensive line)
  • 2014: Pace (defensive coordinator/linebackers)
  • 2012-13: Old Dominion (defensive run game coordinator/linebackers)
  • 2010-11: Old Dominion (outside linebackers)
  • 2010: Western New England College (offensive/recruiting coordinator)
  • 2009-10: Northeastern (outside linebackers)
  • 2007-09: Springfield College (graduate assistant)
  • 2007: Wuerzburg Panthers (offensive coordinator)
  • 2006-07: King’s College (intern)
  • 2006: Carinthian Black Lions (offensive coordinator)
  • 2006: Fitchburg State (quarterbacks)
Mentioned in this article:

More About: