Former Minnesota DC, head coach announces retirement following 2020 season
Former Minnesota defensive coordinator and head coach Tracy Claeys is retiring. An announcement came out of Virginia Tech on Wednesday, where Claeys served as the linebackers coach for one season.
“On behalf of our entire football program, I want to thank Tracy Claeys for his contributions to our team,” head coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. “Even though he was only with us for a short time, Tracy made a lasting impact on our players and coaches. Tracy is not only an outstanding football coach, but he’s also one of the finest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with in this profession. I appreciated the way he helped mentor members of our staff, as well as the manner in which he conveyed his knowledge of the game to our players. We all wish Tracy the very best going forward.”
Claeys released a statement of his own, as well.
“I’m very grateful that to have coached with Coach Fuente and his staff at a place like Virginia Tech,” Claeys said. “Certainly 2020 presented many challenges to all of us, but I couldn’t have asked for a better group of individuals to work with, especially my group of linebackers and the coaches in our defensive room. I’m going to miss coaching, but I’ll always have fond memories of my time in Blacksburg and will continue to value the many relationships I developed here. As I told Coach Fuente, while the time is right for me to step away from coaching, I’ll forever have a fond place in my heart for Virginia Tech.”
Claeys was the defensive coordinator at Minnesota under Jerry Kill from 2011-15, and was promoted to interim head coach midway through the 2015 season after Kill resigned due to medical concerns. After he finished out the remainder of the year with a 2-4 record and led the Gophers to a bowl victory over Central Michigan in the Quick Lane Bowl, Claeys landed the full-time gig at Minnesota.
Claeys’ tenure as the head coach in the Twin Cities lasted just one season, though.
Minnesota had a strong season in Claey’s only year, finishing 9-4 and defeating Washington State in the Holiday Bowl. However, 10 players on the team were accused of having a role in a sexual assault case that placed the program under a microscope.
When those 10 players were suspended, the entire team boycotted all team activities, a movement Claeys said he supported in a social media post. Shortly after Minnesota’s victory in the bowl game, Claeys was terminated and Minnesota hired P.J. Fleck.
After his time at Minnesota, Claeys served as the defensive coordinator at Washington State in 2018 and 2019 before taking the job as linebackers coach at Virginia Tech in 2020.
Prior to his time in the Twin Cities, Claeys served as the defensive coordinator at Emporia State (1999-2000), Southern Illinois (2001-07), and Northern Illinois (2008-10).