Minnesota promotes assistant, loses another

Minnesota has promoted running backs coach Thomas Hammock to co-offensive coordinator, while the Gophers are saying goodbye to wide receivers coach Richard Hightower after only one year.

Hammock, the Golden Gophers' running backs coach since 2007, will share coordinator duties with Jeff Horton, hired last month from the Detroit Lions. Minnesota also has a co-coordinator situation with its defense as Kevin Cosgrove and Ron Lee both share the title.

"This promotion is a reward for the tireless work that Thomas has done as both a coach and a recruiter," Minnesota head coach Tim Brewster said in a statement. "He has done an outstanding job with our running backs and has been a huge asset to our staff. Thomas is one of the outstanding your coaches in America and I could not be more please to reward him with the title of co-offensive coordinator. He and Jeff [Horton] will do a great job coordinating our offense."

Hammock and Horton will look for better results from Minnesota's running game this fall. The Golden Gophers have ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing in each of the past two seasons, and no back has truly emerged to take charge. Hammock has been one of Brewster's best recruiters, helping to land running backs Lamonte Edwards, Donnell Kirkwood and Devon Wright, among others, for the 2010 class.

Hightower came to Minnesota from the Houston Texans and will step down to pursue another coaching job. Brewster expects to find a replacement soon.