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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

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Gophers welcome back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator

The Gophers football program has officially brought back Kirk Ciarrocca as offensive coordinator, the school said Monday.

Ciarrocca will return as OC and quarterbacks coach, a role he had under head coach P.J. Fleck at Minnesota from 2017-19. Ciarrocca left Minnesota after the 2019 season to become offensive coordinator at Penn State in 2020 and offensive analyst at West Virginia in 2021.

“Kirk is one of the best offensive coordinators in the game, but he is also a tremendous person,” Fleck said in a statement. “We have a long professional history of working together, and I look forward to reuniting with him.”

The Gophers play West Virginia in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix on Dec. 28, and while Ciarrocca restarted at Minnesota on Monday, he will not coach in the bowl game after conversations with Fleck and Mountaineers coach Neal Brown.

“We both agreed to not have Kirk coach in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl with his knowledge of both teams’ personnel,” Fleck continued. “When we made the decision to hire Kirk, we did not yet know our bowl opponent. Coach Brown and I both thought this would be best to avoid any awkwardness for both sets of student-athletes. It’s the right thing to do.”

Matt Simon, the U’s wide receivers coach and co-offensive coordinator, will call offensive plays during the bowl game. He previously called plays in the Outback Bowl win over Auburn on New Year’s Day 2020.

Ciarrocca replaces Mike Sanford Jr., who was let go last week after the U’s performances didn’t come close to matching the heights of Ciarrocca’s best season in 2019. Sanford was at the end of a two-year contract paying him $663,000 per year.

Ciarrocca left Minnesota when he was set for a raise to $1 million per year in 2020; terms of his new deal were not shared, and the Gophers added his hire is pending Board of Regent approval.

Brown has known Ciarrocca for 20 years and had a lot of praise for him during a virtual bowl game news conference on Sunday.

“I think if you are talking about a system, the best thing that I can use is he is efficient,” Brown said. “If you look throughout his career, he’s been extremely efficient. I think he’s been able to find unique ways to run the football at every stop, regardless of what his personnel is. … He’s efficient, so when you are talking about an offensive coach. I think that is what we are all hunting and he’s done it better than most.”

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Ticker: Sale of Table Talk Pie headquarters final; Home sales fall, available properties at record low

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Ticker: Sale of Table Talk Pie headquarters final; Home sales fall, available properties at record low

A former Worcester bakery building that made its last pie earlier this month has been sold for more than $4.5 million to a developer planning to build housing and retail space at the site.

The deal to sell the 3.9-acre site in Worcester that had served as Table Talk Pies headquarters since 1924 to Boston Capital Development LLC was first announced months ago, but was finalized on Wednesday, The Telegram & Gazette reported.

The developers are planning a new building at the site that will include about 350 units of both affordable and market-rate housing and street level retail, according to a statement from NAI Glickman Kovago & Jacobs.

Table Talk Pies, meanwhile, has moved to new headquarters in the city that will also serve as a bakery, distribution facility, and for research and development. The company bakes more than 250 million pies annually, according to its website.

Home sales fall with available properties at a record low

Sales of previously occupied homes fell in December for the first time in four months as available houses fell to the lowest level in more than two decades.

Existing home sales dropped 4.6% last month from November, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of nearly 6.2 million, the National Association of Realtors said Thursday.

Demand remains healthy, the group said, with median prices jumping nearly 16% from a year ago to $358,000. The number of houses for sale slumped to just 910,000 in December, the fewest since records began in 1999.

“It’s very hard for sales to meaningfully grow when there’s just not that much available to buy,” said Kwame Donaldson, senior economist for real estate website Zillow.

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Broncos’ coaching search moves along with Kevin O’Connell, Brian Callahan interviews

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Broncos’ coaching search moves along with Kevin O’Connell, Brian Callahan interviews

Broncos general manager George Paton and team executives checked another time zone off their traveling box Thursday, heading to Los Angeles to interview Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell after conducting a virtual meeting with Cincinnati offensive coordinator Brian Callahan.

Since Jan. 13, Paton and Co. have flown from Denver to Detroit to Green Bay to Denver to Dallas to Providence, R.I., to Philadelphia to Los Angeles.

Callahan and O’Connell were the eighth and ninth candidates interviewed by the Broncos. Next up is Kansas City offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy on Friday.

Like Green Bay assistants Nathaniel Hackett and Luke Getsy, who were interviewed last week, Callahan and O’Connell are non-play calling coordinators.

Callahan, 37, was up first, two days before Cincinnati plays its first AFC Divisional playoff game in 31 years when it visits top-seeded Tennessee.

A Broncos assistant from 2010-15, Callahan moved on to coach quarterbacks in Detroit (2016-17) and Oakland (2018) before coach Zac Taylor hired him as the Bengals’ offensive coordinator in ’19.

The Bengals have improved from two to 10 wins over three years and from 29th to 13th in scoring this year.

Callahan told reporters this week it has been “really easy,” to keep his attention toward the Titans game.

“My focus is 100% on this game and to our players; there is no other focus for me,” he said. “Anything I do outside of that framework, it’s on my own time late at night (or) early in the morning. These (interviews) are things you slowly prepare for over time and you get a chance to collect your thoughts.

“All of these things are personal accolades and it’s because the team has had success and you get individual benefit from the collective success and that’s certainly where I’m at right now. It’s an honor to be involved in a process like (the Broncos’).”

Callahan is the son of Bill Callahan, previously the head coach of the Raiders (reaching the Super Bowl after the 2002 season) and Nebraska and currently the Cleveland Browns’ offensive line coach.

Before joining the Broncos in 2010, Brian Callahan worked as a graduate assistant at UCLA and two years as a California high school coach. In five years, he had three titles with the Broncos: Coaching assistant (2010), offensive quality control coach (2011-12) and offensive assistant (2013-15). After the February 2016 Super Bowl win, he departed for Detroit to work with offensive coordinator and former Broncos assistant Jim Bob Cooter.

With the Raiders, Callahan coached quarterback Derek Carr, who passed for 4,049 yards, the first of a streak of four consecutive 4,000-yard seasons.

This year for the Bengals, quarterback Joe Burrow finished with 4,611 yards (sixth in the league), 34 touchdowns (eighth) and a 108.3 passer rating (second).

O’Connell, 36, played 40 games at quarterback for San Diego State and was a third-round draft pick by New England (No. 94 overall); in the first round, the Patriots selected Jerod Mayo, who interviewed with the Broncos on Wednesday.

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More cowbell: Protests outside of Michelle Wu’s house continue, but sound a bit different

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More cowbell: Protests outside of Michelle Wu’s house continue, but sound a bit different

The anti-vaccine-mandate protesters outside Mayor Michelle Wu’s house have swapped out bullhorns for cowbells after the cops reportedly made it clear they’d start confiscating noise amplifiers.

On Thursday morning, protesters clanged cowbells and blew whistles as they saw Wu off as she left her house for work.

They ditched their characteristic bullhorns after the police precinct commander told residents in a small community meeting that police would confiscate bullhorns, which locals have complained protesters have used in ways that have woken up kids and elderly relatives early in the morning. The police comments were first reported by Universal Hub following the meeting earlier in the week.

Anti-vaccine-mandate protesters have demonstrated on and off outside of Wu’s house for weeks after the mayor announced a pair of changes that went into effect this past weekend. Now, city workers all need to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and many Boston businesses including restaurants must require proof of vaccination from patrons.

Wu’s complained of the heated rhetoric from the protesters, who have yelled obscenities at her and called her “Hitler” along with more common types of chants like “Shame on Wu.”

The protesters had diverted from Wu’s Roslindale home for a few days to heckle Council President Ed Flynn outside his South Boston residence. They called the Navy vet a “communist” and “traitor” for siding with the mayor.

Protesters have tended toward hitting pols’ houses — with varying degrees of legality — over the past couple of years in the Bay State. Gov. Charlie Baker faced demonstrators from the left and the right, who essentially alternated protesting at his Swampscott home. At one point, a demonstrator protesting the situation at Mass and Cass threw used syringes on the sidewalk. Another man just strolled on into the governor’s house.

In Boston, left-wing protesters advocating for more police cuts in 2020 used heavy-duty glue to paste report cards on the property of all of the city councilors who voted for the mayor’s budget.

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