Minnesota’s announcement to name Tracy Claeys the head football coach came as little surprise to those close to the program. Claeys, serving as interim coach over the last two weeks after Jerry Kill abruptly resigned amid health concerns, was the overwhelming favorite to lead the BR-69 Gophers and immediately signed a new three-year contract.
He had served on Kill’s staff for 21 years, the last four-plus in Minneapolis as defensive coordinator after the pair, and many others, arrived from Northern Illinois following the 2010 season. Claeys was also the acting head coach for seven games in 2013 while Kill battled health issues, guiding Minnesota to a 4-3 mark, including their first four-game conference winning streak since 1973.
The Gophers staff, most of which has been working together for more than a decade, has been lauded for their work both on- and off-the-field and are in the midst of compiling one of the best recruiting classes in program history.
“The circumstances of the past few weeks have been unpredictable,” Claeys said in a statement released by the school on Tuesday. “This certainly is not the way anyone wants to become a head coach. Coach Kill is one of my best friends and I am thankful that he took a chance on me 21 years ago. I am looking forward to continuing what we have built at Minnesota, but will do so in my own way. One thing that won’t change will be our relentless pursuit to field a team that will make the state of Minnesota proud.
Only one recruit, defensive lineman Jojo Garcia, de-committed following the departure of Kill, and nearly all of their current verbal commits strongly voiced their preference over the last two weeks to keep the current staff in place by removing the interim tag for Claeys.
Their wish was granted this week and some took to Twitter to profess their happiness:
Elijah Daniels – DB
— Elijah Daniels (@ImTooElite) November 11, 2015
Elisha Daniels – DB
Coach Claeys the head man….that’s what I like to hear — Elisha Daniels (@_5Livee) November 11, 2015
Carter Coughlin – LB
— Carter Coughlin † (@Cmoe34) November 11, 2015
Matt Kegel – OL
Mom of Dredrick Snelson – WR
— DSnelsonMom (@Mia8753) November 11, 2015