Two springs ago, Utah State offensive coordinator Jim Zorn, the former NFL quarterback, and Aggie receiver coach Scott Runyan visited the University of Minnesota for what Zorn calls "a professional trip, an idea exchange."

Zorn apparently made an impression on Golden Gopher coach Jim Wacker and offensive coordinator Bob DeBesse because they remembered him and called Zorn recently to ask if he was interested in being Minnesota's quarterback coach. "I got called strictly out of the blue," says Zorn. "I wasn't out looking."It took about 10 days after Zorn's interview in Minneapolis, but late Wednesday afternoon, Zorn, 41, was officially named the new UM QB coach.

"I was impressed with the staff, which is similar to Utah State's. Wacker is bubbling with enthusiasm," said Zorn, comparing him with Aggie coach Charlie Weatherbie.

Subject to approval by the board of regents, Zorn will start his new job in January. The Zorn family will remain in Logan until after Joy delivers the couple's fourth child, due in March.

"I have three regrets about leaving Logan," Zorn told the Deseret News Wednesday by phone from Minneapolis, where he had been introduced to media at a news conference and to the public at halftime of a Gopher basketball game.

His first regret, said Zorn, is leaving Weatherbie and the rest of USU's coaching staff. He had not yet officially informed Weatherbie, who left Wednesday for Christmas vacation at home in Oklahoma. The two talked about the serious possibility of Zorn leaving on Tuesday. "He's been good about it; he didn't want to let me go," Zorn said, adding that his other regrets are leaving USU and Logan, a place to which he and his outdoors-conscious family have become quite attached.

"I really am excited, but I'm kind of reserved," Zorn said of his "mixed emotions. It's been a great experience there in Logan, and I would consider coming back there some day." He also hopes to work with Weatherbie again.

Zorn said he doesn't consider moving into the Big 10 as another rung on his ladder to success. "I look at it as a new challenge. The opportunity to coach in the Big 10 puts me closer to realizing my dream of coaching in the NFL," said Zorn, adding that he also would like to become a head coach some day.

Wacker said, "Zorn brings with him a tremendous amount of experience and expertise and will do a fine job with our young quarterbacks." Two senior QBs graduate, and UM's motion/one-back/no-back offense is similar to USU's, throwing 30-40 times a game.

Zorn came to USU with Weatherbie in early 1992; he was an assistant at Boise State from 1989-1991. He played nine seasons with the Seattle Seahawks (1976-84) and is their career passing leader. He finished his NFL career with Green Bay (1985) and Tampa Bay (1987). The Zorns have three daughters, Rachel, Sarah and Danielle.

CROWDED: The Aggies need a crowd of 7,793 Friday for their 7 p.m. game with University of Utah to surpass 2.5 million in attendance at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, now in its 25th season.

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CORMIER BACK: Guard Covington Cormier was expected back Thursday after spending a week in Philadelphia because of the grave illness and death of an immediate-family member. Coach Larry Eustachy doubts Cormier will be ready to play against Utah. (Note: Cormier called Eustachy last Saturday from Philadelphia and offered to come back and play that night's Delta Center game against Southern Utah if needed.)

BITE YOUR TONGUE: The short-handed hoop team practiced 4-on-4 Wednesday because Jon Wickizer was ill and Silas Mills punctured his tongue in three places, biting down when hit in the face by an elbow.

"CUPP": Cormier's nickname is "Cupp." It's definitely spelled with two "Ps," but that's about all he knows about it. He inherited "Cupp" from his father, and they've never really talked about it.

RANKED: USU ranks 16th in the NCAA in rebound margin at +10.3, but it was first last season. Junior Eric Franson is 16th in NCAA rebounding average at 11.7 per.

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