Defensive line coach Joe Rossi will serve as coordinator for the remainder of the season for the Golden Gophers (4-5 overall, 1-5 Big Ten), coach P.J. Fleck announced Sunday.
“These decisions are always difficult, especially when they involve a close friend and colleague,” Fleck said in a prepared statement. “Robb is an elite man and will always be a dear friend of mine.”
The Golden Gophers surrendered a season high in points and yards (646) to a Fighting Illini team that had defeated only Kent State, Rutgers and FCS-level Western Illinois prior to Saturday’s contest.
“(Saturday) was completely unacceptable,” Fleck said during his Sunday morning radio appearance on WCCO-AM, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“There’s plenty of blame to go around, but most of that starts with me, period. We review our mistakes, correct them, then move on.”
Minnesota’s defense is ranked 13th in conference play after being gashed for 43.2 points and 507.7 yards per contest.
Smith was in the second season of a two-year, $1.4 million contract.
The Golden Gophers host Purdue and Northwestern before wrapping up the regular season at Wisconsin.