WSU goes with a familiar face to fill defensive coordinator spot


After a controversial end to his tenure at Minnesota, former Gophers head coach Tracy Claeys has been hired at Washington State.


Claeys would replace Alex Grinch as DC who was officially announced as the newest member of the coaching staff at Ohio State Monday morning.

Washington State has formally announced the hiring of Tracy Claeys as defensive coordinator. When Kill resigned for health reasons in October 2015, Claeys took over as acting head coach.

"I would like to thank coach Leach and Washington State University for the opportunity to coach the Cougs", Claeys said. "I am looking forward to getting to Pullman, working with a great staff and getting to know the players".

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Claeys' last game coaching was in the Holiday Bowl in December 2016 against Washington State, where the Gophers won 17-12.

Claeys was sacked as Gophers head coach a year ago in the midst of a sex assault investigation involving members of the team. He will reunite with WSU defensive line coach Jeff Phelps, who held the same post at Minnesota from 2011-2016. Ultimately, four players were expelled, and one was suspended.

Claeys' 2016 Minnesota defense finished the season ranked 21st nationally in total defense, averaging 22.1 points per game - the fewest it had allowed in more than a decade.

According to USA Today, Athletic Director Mark Coyle said about his decision to fire Claeys, "With the support of Board of Regents' leadership and President Eric Kaler, I have chose to take the Gophers football team in a different direction with new coaching leadership". Claeys supported the players in their boycott, causing a clash with school officials.

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But the bowl win came amid sexual assualt allegations that resulted in the suspension of 10 Minnesota players. Five years earlier, in Claeys' first season as defensive coordinator, Minnesota allowed 31.7 points, but since then the most it has allowed in a season is 24.2.

Like Leach, Claeys also never played college football.

Claeys, a Kansan who attended both Kansas and Kansas State, graduated with a degree in mathematics education in 1994 from Kansas State. He also would have steered the players to something other than a boycott. Phelps worked under Claeys for six years at Minnesota and was Claeys' D-line coach at Northern Illinois for two years before that. The Cougars need to replace Manning, who coached rush linebackers, and hire a 10th assistant, possibly to coach the defensive secondary. Per the source, White declined because he had just accepted the position at ASU under new head coach Herm Edwards.

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