Claeys inks three-year contract with the Gophers.
Tracy Claeys was named Minnesota's Head Coach on Nov. 11, 2015.
Claeys succeeds 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 late October. In that capacity, Claeys led the Gophers against No. 15 Michigan and No. 1 Ohio State.
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.
In the past two years, Claeys has coached four first-team All-Big Ten selections. Damien Wilson and Briean Boddy-Calhoun were honored in 2014, while Ra'Shede Hageman and Brock Vereen were recognized in 2013. Hageman and Vereen were the first Gopher defensive players to be recognized by the conference since 2008.
Claeys-coached players are also catching the attention of NFL teams at an increasing rate. Damien Wilson and Cedric Thompson were both selected in the 2015 NFL Draft, while former standouts Cameron Botticelli and Derrick Wells signed free agent contracts. Hageman and Vereen were both picked in the 2014 draft. Under Claeys, Minnesota has had four defensive players selected in the past two NFL Drafts. The Gophers had the same number of defensive players selected from 2003-10, an eight-year span.
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.
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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