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Claeys toured the state in the last two weeks
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Tracy Claeys was named Minnesota's Head Coach on Nov. 11, 2015.
Claeys succeeded his good friend Jerry Kill, who resigned his position on Oct. 28, 2015, due to health reasons.
Claeys served on Kill’s staff for 21 years and was named Interim Head Coach following Kill’s resignation. In that capacity, Claeys led the Gophers against No. 15 Michigan and No. 1 Ohio State. Claeys coached his first game without the Interim title at No. 8 Iowa on Nov. 14, 2015, and won his first game by a score of 32-23 against Illinois on Nov. 21, 2015. He ended the season by leading Minnesota to a 21-14 win in the Quick Lane Bowl, snapping a seven-game bowl losing streak.
The Clay Center, Kan., native initially joined the Minnesota staff on Dec. 10, 2010, when Kill hired him as defensive coordinator. Claeys was Minnesota’s Acting Head Coach in 2013 for seven games and led the Gophers to a 4-3 mark, which included consecutive wins against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. It was the first time since 1973 that Minnesota won four straight conference games in the same season.
Claeys was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award (top college assistant coach) in each of the past two seasons and was promoted to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2014 season.
As defensive coordinator at Minnesota, Claeys has transformed the Gopher defense into one of the best in the Big Ten.
Minnesota allowed 380 points in 2011 and 321 points in 2012. In 2013, its third season under Claeys’ leadership, the Gopher defense allowed only 289 points. It marked the first time that Minnesota allowed fewer than 300 points in a full season since 2004.
In 2013, Minnesota ranked fourth in the Big Ten and 25th in the nation by allowing only 22.2 points per game. The Gophers were at their best when it mattered most. The defense led the Big Ten and finished 15th nationally in red zone defense. Minnesota opponents scored on just 74 percent of their trips inside the 20.
Last season, Minnesota allowed 314 points (24.2 points per game) to rank sixth in the Big Ten and tied for 33rd nationally. The defense's 15 fumble recoveries and 15 interceptions helped Minnesota to a plus-10 turnover margin (second in the Big Ten and 15th in the nation).
The Gophers have held 27 of their last 35 opponents below their scoring average. In 18 of those games, Minnesota held it opposition to eight or more points below their season average and in seven games the Gophers held this opponents to 14 or more points below their season average.
Claeys has coached four First Team All-Big Ten defensive selections - Briean Boddy-Calhoun (2014), Damien Wilson (2014), Ra'Shede Hageman (2013) and Brock Vereen (2013) - at Minnesota in five years. In contrast, Minnesota had five First Team All-Big Ten defensive selections from 2000-10.
Claeys-coached players are also catching the attention of NFL teams at an increasing rate. Minnesota has had six defensive players taken in the NFL Draft in the last three years in Eric Murray (2016, Kansas City Chiefs), De'Vondre Campbell (2016, Atlanta Falcons), Damien Wilson (2015, Dallas Cowboys), Cedric Thompson (2015, Miami Dolphins), Ra'Shede Hageman (2014, Atlanta Falcons) and Brock Vereen (2014, Chicago Bears). Minnesota had six total defensive players drafted from 2000-13.
Claeys started his coaching career at Santa Fe Trail High School in 1994. He joined Kill in 1995 at Saginaw Valley State, where he coached the defensive line. Claeys became Kill's defensive coordinator at Emporia State in 1999. He remained in that capacity when Kill took over at Southern Illinois in 2001 and Northern Illinois in 2008.
In 2008, his first season at Northern Illinois, Claeys and the defensive staff engineered one of the biggest turnarounds in the country, as the Huskies led the MAC in pass defense, scoring defense and total defense. The Huskies finished in the top 20 nationally in three categories – fifth in pass defense, 14th in scoring defense and 17th in total defense.
Claeys' defense topped the MAC and ranked 30th in the country in total defense the following year. The Huskies were also among the top 30 FBS teams in the country in scoring defense that season.
In 2010, Claeys led a Northern Illinois defensive unit that was ranked No. 14 in the nation and No. 1 in the Mid-American Conference in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 19 points per game. The Huskies were also No. 32 in the nation in pass efficiency defense, No. 27 in total defense and No. 27 in rushing defense in Claeys' final season.
In his last five years at Southern Illinois, Claeys’ defenses allowed an average of 18.5 points while holding opponents to 14 points or less 21 times, which included five shutouts. In 2007, Southern Illinois reached the FCS national semifinal and its defense ranked as the 10th-best FCS scoring defense in the country and the second-best scoring defense at SIU since 1983. They also intercepted 21 passes to rank fourth in the nation.
In 2004, Southern Illinois led the country in scoring defense, allowing just 13.2 points per game. The Salukis gave up only 101.7 yards per game on the ground while snagging 17 interceptions.
Claeys' pre-Minnesota resume also includes coaching several standout defensive players, most recently Northern Illinois’ Larry English, the first-round draft choice of the NFL's San Diego Chargers in 2009. Claeys also coached Seattle Seahawks' 1999 first-round draft choice Lamar King at Saginaw Valley State and tutored linebacker Bart Scott at Southern Illinois and defensive end Paul Spicer at Saginaw Valley St.
Claeys, who attended both Kansas and Kansas State, graduated with a degree in Mathematics Education in 1994 from Kansas State. He is one of nine current Division I FBS head coaches who did not play collegiate football.
|Year By Year|
|1995||Saginaw Valley St.||7-3-0||-||Defensive Line|
|1996||Saginaw Valley St.||7-3-0||-||Defensive Line|
|1997||Saginaw Valley St.||9-2-0||Nationally Ranked||Defensive Line|
|1998||Saginaw Valley St.||9-2-0||Nationally Ranked||Defensive Line|
|1999||Emporia State||5-6-0||-||Defensive Coordinator|
|2000||Emporia State||6-5-0||-||Defensive Coordinator|
|2001||Southern Illinois||1-10-0||-||Defensive Coordinator|
|2002||Southern Illinois||4-8-0||-||Defensive Coordinator|
|2003||Southern Illinois||10-2-0||FCS Playoffs - 1st Round||Defensive Coordinator|
|2004||Southern Illinois||10-2-0||FCS Playoffs - 1st Round||Defensive Coordinator|
|2005||Southern Illinois||9-4-0||FCS Playoffs - 2nd Round||Defensive Coordinator|
|2006||Southern Illinois||9-4-0||FCS Playoffs - 2nd Round||Defensive Coordinator|
|2007||Southern Illinois||12-2-0||FCS Playoffs - Semifinals||Defensive Coordinator|
|2008||Northern Illinois||6-7-0||Independence Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2009||Northern Illinois||7-6-0||International Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2010||Northern Illinois||10-3-0||Humanitarian Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2012||Minnesota||6-7||Meineke Car Care Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2013||Minnesota||8-5||Texas Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2014||Minnesota||8-5||Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl||Defensive Coordinator|
|2015||Minnesota||2-4||Quick Lane Bowl||Head Coach|
THE CLAEYS FILE
Nov. 11, 2015-present: Minnesota - Head Coach
Oct. 28, 2015-Nov. 11, 2015: Minnesota - Interim Head Coach
2014-15: Minnesota - Associate Head Coach
2011-15: Minnesota - Defensive Coordinator
2008-10: Northern Illinois - Defensive Coordinator
2001-07: Southern Illinois - Defensive Coordinator
1999-2000: Emporia State - Defensive Coordinator
1995-98: Saginaw Valley State - Defensive Line
1994: Santa Fe Trail HS - Co-Defensive Coordinator
College B.A., Kansas State, 1994
High School Clay Center (Kan.) Community, 1987
Birthplace Clay Center, Kan.
Birthdate December 25, 1968
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