Gophers fire defensive coordinator Robb Smith

The defensive line coach has been promoted to interim defensive coordinator.
Publish date:

Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck fired defensive coordinator Robb Smith on Sunday, one day after Minnesota allowed 55 points and nearly 650 yards in a blowout loss to Illinois. 

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

Defensive line coach Joe Rossi will take over as the interim defensive coordinator. He has experience calling plays from his past defensive coordinator jobs at Rutgers, Maine and Thiel College.

It didn't help that Smith was calling plays for a defense that lost its best player five weeks ago when safety Antoine Winfield Jr. was lost for the season with an injury, but Minnesota's defense has allowed 43.2 points and 507.7 yards per game in Big Ten play. 

This was Smith's second season with the Gophers, having been brought to Minnesota by Fleck after spending a three years as the defensive coordinator at Arkansas under former Wisconsin head coach Brett Bielema.

Minnesota hosts Purdue this week before wrapping up the regular season with games against Northwestern and Wisconsin the following two weeks. 

Next Up

police lights

Suspects, possibly armed, flee after gunshots and car crash in Bemidji

Police say they may be armed, and are asking the public for tips.

Kevin Fiala, Jordan Greenway

Wild blanked by Blues; playoff fate is in Colorado's hands

It comes down to the final day of the regular season.

Screen Shot 2021-05-12 at 10.04.32 PM

Number of suicides in Minnesota decreased in 2020

While the number dropped, 723 people still died by suicide last year.

Vikings fans, U.S. Bank Stadium

Ranking the most difficult games in the Vikings' 2021 schedule

The Vikings have some interesting matchups on their 17-game slate.

Spencer Silver

Chemist who co-invented Post-it Notes dies at home in St. Paul

He developed an adhesive that could stick to paper – repeatedly – without damaging the paper.

Danielle Hunter

Here is the official 2021 Minnesota Vikings schedule

How does an early January game at Lambeau Field sound?

Blake Bortles

Amid Aaron Rodgers drama, Packers reportedly sign Blake Bortles

The former No. 3 overall pick is headed to Green Bay.

You Houa Thao

Missing St. Paul man found dead in wooded area

The 73-year-old was reported missing May 8.

YouTube - Jim Klobuchar

Jim Klobuchar, celebrated Minnesota columnist, dies at 93

He died Wednesday after a battle with Alzheimer's.


With new defensive coordinator, Gophers stymie Purdue

Purdue beat Ohio State a month ago, but they couldn't handle the Gophers.

Gophers grab Robb Smith from Arkansas to be defensive coordinator

It looks like Minnesota has its defensive coordinator.

Gophers grab Robb Smith from Arkansas to be defensive coordinator

It looks like Minnesota has its defensive coordinator.

Rodney Smith out for the season with knee injury

Devastating news for one of the best in Gophers history.

Fleck, Gophers land high-profile recruit out of Illinois

Jason Bargy is a 6-foot-5, 255-pound defensive end.

Fleck names true freshman Annexstad starting quarterback

He won the job over redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan.

Watch: Fleck surprises Gophers with Beyonce, Jay-Z tickets

The skit they put on for the surprise is phenomenal.