The day after a 31-21 loss to rival Wisconsin to wrap up a 5-7 regular season, offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover and quarterbacks coach Jim Zebrowski will not be back on the Minnesota Golden Gophers’ coaching staff next season. Head coach Tracy Claeys made the announcement a team meeting Sunday night. Limegrover was also the offensive line coach, and Zebrowski was passing game coordinator.
Claeys gave the requisite endorsement of Limegrover and Zebrowski as people and coaches in the statement released by the university, while also suggesting a shift in how the Gophers’ offense will operate with him as head coach.
Claeys: “I have decided to make a change that will better fit my offensive philosophy, which is to have one coordinator calling the plays.”
— Marcus R. Fuller (@GophersNow) November 30, 2015
The Golden Gophers were among the worst offenses in the country this year, finishing 103rd in total offense (357.1 yards per game), tied for 103rd in scoring offense (22.6 points per game) and 75th in passing (214.2 yards per game). An antiquated offensive philosophy centered around the running game was a big factor, but an injury-thinned offensive line surely didn’t help things this season.
The greater takeaway from the decision to let Limegrover and Zebrowski go is how Claeys is already breaking from former head coach Jerry Kill’s noted loyalty to his assistants. Limegrover had coached with Claeys under Kill since 1999 at Emporia (Kan.) State, and Zebrowski joined Kill’s coaching staff at Northern Illinois in 2010 before going with him to Minnesota.
It’s still unclear if Claeys can be a successful Big Ten head coach, and I still think the University of Minnesota should have at least tried to conduct an outside search for Kill’s permanent replacement. But Claeys is already setting the tone that mediocre (or downright bad) results won’t be good enough for him, and that’s a great sign for the Minnesota football program going forward.