December 25, 1968 |
Clay Center, Kansas
|Alma mater||Kansas State|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
|1994||Santa Fe Trail HS (Co-DC)|
|1995–1998||Saginaw Valley State (DL)|
|1999–2000||Emporia State (DC)|
|2001–2007||Southern Illinois (DC)|
|2008–2010||Northern Illinois (DC)|
|2015||Minnesota (Interim HC)|
|Head coaching record|
Tracy Lee Claeys (born December 25, 1968) is an American football coach who is the former head coach at the University of Minnesota. He served as an assistant for his predecessor, Jerry Kill for 21 years at Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and Minnesota--the last 16 as his defensive coordinator.
College and early coaching
Claeys got his start in coaching when he attended the University of Kansas and served as a student trainer and later as an unpaid assistant coach for head coach Glen Mason. After three years at Kansas, he transferred to Kansas State University and took a job as an assistant at his old high school, earning a salary of $1. After graduating with a degree in Mathematics Education in 1994 from Kansas State, he was hired at Santa Fe Trail High School as a math teacher and co-defensive coordinator of the football team.
In 1995, Claeys was hired as the defensive line coach at Saginaw Valley State, under head coach Jerry Kill. When Kill took the head coaching job at Emporia State in 1999, Claeys followed and was promoted to defensive coordinator. He continued to serve as defensive coordinator at Kill's future head coaching stops at Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and Minnesota.
At Southern Illinois in 2004 the defense led the country in scoring defense, allowing 13.2 points per game. The Salukis gave up 101.7 yards per game on the ground while snagging 17 interceptions. In 2007, they reached the FCS national semifinal and their defense ranked as the 10th-best FCS scoring defense in the country and the second-best scoring defense at SIU since 1983. They intercepted 21 passes which ranked fourth in the nation.
In his first season at Northern Illinois, Claeys and the defensive staff coached the Huskies into leading the MAC in pass defense, scoring defense and total defense. They also finished in the top 20 nationally in those 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 and were also among the top 30 FBS teams 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 MAC 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.
Claeys joined the Minnesota staff on Dec. 10, 2010, when Kill hired him as defensive coordinator. He was nominated for the Frank Broyles Award (top college assistant coach) in 2013 and 2014 and was promoted to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2014 season.
He 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, the Gopher defense allowed only 289 points which marked the first time that Minnesota allowed fewer than 300 points in a full season since 2004. He also 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.
Acting head coach
Due to Kill's health problems throughout his career, Claeys has filled in as acting head coach when Kill has been unable to coach. This first occurred in 2005 when Kill had a seizure on the sideline of a Southern Illinois game and was later diagnosed with kidney cancer and epilepsy. Claeys filled in for Kill when Kill missed parts of three games in his first three years at Minnesota and for the entire game when Kill had a seizure before a game at Michigan in 2013. On October 10, 2013 it was announced that Kill would take an open-ended leave of absence from coaching to focus on treating his epilepsy. Claeys was appointed acting head coach until Kill's return. The Gophers went 4-3 under Claeys during the regular season that included a four-game Big Ten conference win streak which was the first time since 1973 that Minnesota had done that. They lost their bowl game to Syracuse in which Coach Kill returned to the sidelines in the second half.
Kill retired for health reasons on October 28, 2015, and Claeys was named interim head coach for the remainder of the season. On November 11, 2015, Minnesota dropped the "interim" tag from Claeys' title and formally named him as its 29th head coach. On January 3, 2017, he was fired after outrage over a team-led boycott in response to suspensions of 10 Minnesota football players accused of having a role in a sexual assault case. Claeys was on-record stating, "he supports his players 1st amendment rights!" 
Head coaching record
|Minnesota Golden Gophers (Big Ten Conference) (2015–present)|
|2015||Minnesota||2–4||1–4||T–5th (West)||W Quick Lane|
|2016||Minnesota||9–4||5–4||T–4th (West)||W Holiday|
- Fullermfuller, Marcus R. (2013-10-19). "Gophers football: Tracy Claeys just the man to carry on Jerry Kill's mission". TwinCities.com. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- Tracy Claeys. "Tracy Claeys Bio - University of Minnesota Official Athletic Site". Gophersports.com. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY Sports 4 p.m. EDT October 10, 2013 (2013-10-10). "Minnesota coach Jerry Kill takes leave for epilepsy". Usatoday.com. Retrieved 2015-10-28.
- "Minnesota coach Jerry Kill retiring for health reasons". Sports Illustrated. 28 October 2015. Retrieved 28 October 2015.
- "Tracy Claeys named University of Minnesota football coach". Star Tribune. 11 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
- Jerry Kill was head coach for the first seven games of the season. Claeys was named interim head coach after Kill retired for health reasons on October 28, and had the "interim" tag removed on November 15. Minnesota credits the first seven games to Kill and the final five games to Claeys.