Things did not end well for Matt Limegrover at Minnesota.
After spending 16 years coaching alongside veteran head coach Jerry Kill — including the last five with the Golden Gophers — Limegrover was fired last November.
Kill’s well-documented health problems forced him to step down last October. Another longtime assistant, Tracy Claeys, was named head coach. Claeys eventually fired Limegrover, who had been the team’s assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and O-line coach.
In January, James Franklin snapped up Limegrover to coach Penn State’s offensive line.
And on Saturday night, Limegrover exited the field at Beaver Stadium carrying the Governor's Victory Bell, which goes to the winner whenever the Lions and Golden Gophers have at it.
This time, PSU got an overtime win, 29-26, and afterward the Nittany Lions said they were well aware of how Limegrover had been unceremoniously dumped by Claeys.
“We made it known early in the week that when we win that trophy, it’s going to Coach Limegrover,” tight end Mike Gesicki said. “I don’t know the situation that happened there and all that stuff, but us hiring Coach Limegrover was a huge hire. He has helped out our offensive line tremendously, he has helped out our offense tremendously. He’s a great guy to play for. For them to let him go, that was awesome for us because he is one of the best O-Line coaches in the country, and he deserves that trophy more than anybody.”
Redshirt freshman offensive guard Ryan Bates was the one who grabbed the trophy after the game and made sure Limegrover got it.
“Coach Limegrover was at Minnesota for a number of years … and the people he was with for that amount of time just gave up on him and I don’t see why,” Bates said. “Coach Limegrover is a great coach. What he’s doing with the offensive line is awesome. The connections we have with Coach Limegrover … I’m looking forward to the future.”
Penn State’s defensive players were even driven to win for Limegrover.
“He coached there for a long time and then for us to get that win, it was just like, made him feel good y’know?” safety Marcus Allen said. “He told us his story before the game and it gave us a lot of motivation to get this win for him.”
Asked if he could share Limegrover’s pregame story, Allen politely declined.
Regardless, the stories that mattered to the Lions happened last November — and then on the field Saturday night.
“It meant a lot,” receiver Chris Godwin said. “Coach Limegrover is a part of our family now and we love him. We’ve embraced him since he’s been here. He’s done a great job coaching our offensive line and he’s really passionate about what he does. So for him to be able to hold the trophy up after being at Minnesota last year, I think it was huge for us to be able to be there for him.”