Tracy Claeys was brought to Washington State with big shoes to fill, coming in after (now Oklahoma defensive coordinator) Alex Grinch had just led the team to a top 20 national ranking in total defense before deciding to join the Ohio State staff for a season.
After a season where they finished very respectably among the top 50 nationally in total defense on their way to a double-digit win season, Claeys decided to resign just a handful of games into 2019, and tweeted the reason being that he and Mike Leach couldn't agree to a solution on fixing their defensive struggles, despite Leach wanting him to stay.
Citing sources inside the program, former Cougars quarterback Connor Halliday shared on CougTalk with the WSU Blog that the real reason Claeys decided it was best to leave was because of an irreconcilable rift between he and defensive backs coach Darcel McBath - who goes way back with Leach to his days as a player at Texas Tech and is now listed as interim co-defensive coordinator - that had been bubbling since Claeys arrival in Pullman.
Here's an excerpt of what Halliday shared.
“Claeys and Darcel McBath were absolutely not getting along. I mean, they were at each other throats like everyday. After the UCLA game, Darcel...I mean, in the middle of practice, was questioning everything Claeys was doing. So finally Claeys said, ‘Look, if you don’t like the way I’m running things, I’ll effin’ leave.’ Then Claeys called them on everybody’s bluff."
“Nothing changed, Monday rolled around, and Claeys wasn’t there, and there was a letter of resignation on his desk. Nobody ever saw him again.”
Halliday went on to share that his source shared Claeys was never really accepted onto the staff like a lot of other guys had been and the situation with McBath was that finally just coming to a head.
Provided that the story is accurate, Leach may have a tough time getting a proven veteran defensive coordinator willing to come to Pullman with the potential for friction in the defensive staff room. For right now, McBath and linebackers coach Roc Bellantoni hold the interim co-defensive coordinator titles.
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