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WVU, Minnesota Working Through 'Unique' Situation Ahead of Bowl Game

The Mountaineers and Golden Gophers are in an interesting situation.

West Virginia senior offensive analyst Kirk Ciarrocca has some things to figure out with head coach Neal Brown. The 56-year-old veteran coach is set to make his return back to calling plays but not for the Mountaineers, yet for WVU's bowl opponent, Minnesota. 

Over the last week, reports have surfaced that Ciarrocca is leaving West Virginia to become the Golden Gophers' offensive coordinator. Ciarrocca has a long history both with Neal Brown and P.J. Fleck which should help the two sides to come to some sort of agreement on when he can make the transition official. With the two set to play in a bowl game in a few weeks, having someone within the program heading to your bowl opponent isn't ideal. Information can be leaked and it could put WVU in a tough spot. Understanding the long history and respect between Ciarrocca and Brown, that may not be an issue, but you never know. 

Neal Brown spoke on the matter Sunday evening. 

"It's a good question. It's a unique situation. We're going to kind of work through that. This may be a first in my career. We're going to work through that. I don't have a good answer for that right now. It's a unique matchup, we'll figure it out here in the next day or so."

"Kirk and I's relationship goes back a good ways. He actually recruited me when he was a college coach and then I was a receiver coach for him at the University of Delaware for a year when I was kind of just getting started in my career. He's been a mentor and a friend really throughout my coaching career. Our philosophies are very similar. He's been a great help here not only for myself but for really our entire staff. He's helped our offensive staff grow. He's had great insight for our defensive staff. I think it's been a fun experience for him. I think it's something he's enjoyed."

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Ciarrocca was rumored to be hired as the offensive coordinator at West Virginia when Neal Brown took the job in 2019, however, he opted to remain at Minnesota where he served as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the previous two seasons. Ciarrocca spent the 2020 season with Penn State before finally reuniting with Neal Brown at WVU in 2021. Due to Ciarrocca's role as an analyst, he is not allowed to coach the players. He mainly sifts through game/practice film and helps the rest of the coaching staff with tips and advice. 

West Virginia and Minnesota are set to play in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, AZ on December 28th at 10:15 p.m. EST. 

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