On Tuesday, Minnesota announced that Tracy Claeys would be dismissed after just one season as head coach.
Claeys was a longtime assistant to Jerry Kill, working under him at five schools, including four-plus seasons as defensive coordinator with the Gophers (2011-2015). He occasionally filled in for Kill when the now-Rutgers offensive coordinator battled epilepsy before taking over as interim head coach in mid-2015 following Kill's abrupt retirement.
Claeys was promoted to permanent head coach in mid-November of the same year by then-interim athletics director Beth Goetz, who temporarily replaced the disgraced Norwood Teague in August 2015. Then in May, the Gophers hired a full-time athletics director in Mark Coyle, who left Syracuse after less than one year on the job, prompting immediate questions into the long-term future of Claeys and other coaches in other high-profile sports.
After a decent regular season season — Minnesota won eight games but defeated just two teams that finished the season above .500, both of whom were, Colorado State and Northwestern — the program made national headlines when the players boycotted all team activities in search of due process for 10 suspended players over sexual assault allegations. During the boycott, Claeys supported his players, saying on Twitter, "Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights and support their effort to make a better world."
He received heavy criticism for the tweet, prompting further questions into his future. Even after an impressive bowl win over Washington State, dismissal speculation continued, especially with possible replacements in P.J. Fleck, Chip Kelly, Les Miles and others gaining steam in the rumor mill.
Claeys was indeed fired, and though only Mark Coyle, university president Eric Kaler and possibly a few others will know the full reasoning behind the firing, it appears clear that his Dec. 15 tweet helped end his career in Minneapolis.
After players were told of the decision, many took to Twitter to express their deep, deep displeasure.
Fire the coach that stick with his players .. it's sad how this administration doesn't care about the players at all
— Jalen Myrick (@5__On__It) January 3, 2017
How can someone makes such an idiotic decision…
— Carter Coughlin (@Cmoe34) January 3, 2017
Wanna learn how to destroy a football program that's on the rise follow the blueprint of this administration..
— Hollywood (@RayBuf25) January 3, 2017
The man literally looked me in my eyes after the win and said "I'm really happy for you guys and the way this ended. Congrats" like wut?!?!?
— Mr. Mufasa (@GIVE_87) January 3, 2017
Win games, get fired… I'm not a math major, but something just seems odd about that equation
— Hunter Regi$ter (@ontherise12_) January 3, 2017
Smh. The last two years really been a rollercoaster.
— Geech (@w_d_iii) January 3, 2017
Supporting your players and winning games seems to be a good formula idk why you'd let Coach Claeys go smh
— Eric Amoako (@EAmoako28) January 3, 2017