Joe Rossi Leaving Minnesota to Take Michigan State Defensive Coordinator Job

Photo: University of Minnesota

PJ Fleck has done a good job early this offseason, keeping the most talented Minnesota Gophers players in Dinkytown and out of the transfer portal.

But on Sunday, PJ couldn’t retain arguably his most talented coach, Gophers’ defensive coordinator Joe Rossi, who is on his way to Michigan State where he will fill the same position for the Spartans in East Lansing.

Minnesota Gophers defensive coordinator Joe Rossi leaving for Michigan State

Joe Rossi took over as Minnesota’s defensive coordinator midway through the 2018 season and I have credited him with a big part of Fleck’s turnaround here. Before Rossi was promoted, Fleck was well on his way to starting his Gophers head coaching tenure with two-straight losing seasons.

The Gophers 2018 defense gave up over 43 points per game in its first 6 Big Ten games that season, leaving PJ helpless, given the run-first style he wanted to implement. But then, Fleck fired then DC Rob Smith and promoted Rossi.

The defense immediately improved, the Gophers went on a winning streak to end that season and Fleck got his first victory over Wisconsin. Then, 11-2 happened in 2019.

Read More: The Rise of Minnesota’s Defensive Guru, Joe Rossi

Minnesota’s defense slumped a bit in 2023 but Rossi was dealing with a lot of young talent. We’ll find out more about why Joe Rossi is leaving soon, I’m sure. But if I had one guess… it’s money.

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