Gophers, Fleck hire Corey Hetherman as new defensive coordinator

Head coach P. J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers huddles with his team during their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium on September 16, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. (Getty Images)

The University of Minnesota football team lost defensive coordinator Joe Rossi to the same post at Michigan State shortly after the regular season ended in a 28-14 loss to Wisconsin.

It appears P.J. Fleck has found his replacement. The Gophers announced Monday they have hired Rutgers linebackers' coach Corey Hetherman as the new defensive coordinator for the 2024 season. Hetherman was the defensive coordinator at James Madison from 2019-21, and was the defensive coordinator at Maine from 2016-18.

Under Hetherman, James Madison had a top 10 total defense and scoring defense in three straight seasons. Hetherman was the AFCS FCS Assistant Coach of the Year in 2021.

Under Rossi this season, the Gophers finished No. 54 in total defense (368.4 yards per game), No. 62 in rushing defense (149.1) and were tied for 67th in scoring defense at 26.7 points per game.


Minnesota also has a new special teams coordinator, as Fleck and the Gophers announced the addition of Bob Ligashesky.

He comes to the Gophers with nearly 40 years of coaching experience, most recently as the special teams coordinator at Syracuse. He also has NFL experience with the Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Pittsburgh Steelers and St. Louis Rams.

At Syracuse, Ligashesky's kick return defense was second in the ACC this past season. Their kick return unit was third in the nation in 2022.

He'll replace Rob Wenger, who stepped away from the Gophers after the Quick Lane Bowl.