Fleck fires defensive coordinator, promotes defensive line coach

Minnesota Football Coach P.J. Fleck announced team defensive coordinator Robb Smith was relieved of his duties Sunday.

The decision comes after the Gophers were blown out by the Illinois Fighting Illini Saturday, giving up 55 points in the process.

Taking Smith’s place will be Joe Rossi, who will be the interim defensive coordinator. Rossi previously served as the team’s defensive line coach.

Rossi was named Gopher defensive line coach in January after working as a quality control assistant for Minnesota last season.

Rossi is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native and coached for four seasons with Rutgers, serving as defensive coordinator there. He was also a defensive coordinator at Maine between 2009 and 2011.

"These decisions are always difficult, especially when they involve a close friend and colleague," said Fleck in a release. "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."