Tracy Claeys will not return as Minnesota's head coach, the school has confirmed.
Claeys and AD Mark Coyle met on Tuesday to discuss the program's future. Though the Gophers overachieved on the field, clocking in with an 9-4 record, Coyle did not hire Claeys and was a noted Claeys skeptic since his arrival.
The Gophers' threatened boycott of the Holiday Bowl did not help the image of the program, a fact Claeys acknowledged, telling his players he'd likely be fired if they did not play in the game. (They did, and went on to win the game.)
The most recent tweet from Minnesota's official football account touts the rarified air Claeys took the Gophers to in 2016.
Coyle announced the move in a lengthy statement:
I determined that the football program must move in a new direction to address challenges in recruiting, ticket sales and the culture of the program. We need strong leadership to take Gopher football to the next level and address these challenges. This decision is about the future of Minnesota football.Moving forward, we need a leader who sets high expectations athletically, academically, and socially.
He also cited Claeys' handling of the player suspension/boycott fiasco as part of the reason for the move.
I informed Coach Claeys of my judgment that athletic suspensions were appropriate. Without any objection, Coach Claeys said he understood that decision to bench student-athletes. Coach Claeys, Deputy Athletics Director John Cunningham, and I met with the student-athletes to advise them of our decision. Coach Claeys subsequently informed me that he agreed with the suspension decision. And let me be clear: this was the right thing to do.Coach Claeys’ Tweet later that week was not helpful. I accept that Coach Claeys intended it to support the boycotting players. Understandably others did not see it that way. I hope you will appreciate I cannot say more about the athletic suspensions in this case.
While Coyle defended the move to remove Claeys, Gophers players ripped the administration.
Claeys exits Minnesota with an 11-8 mark in a season at the half at the helm. He went 2-4 after taking over for Jerry Kill in the middle of last season.
This move has been speculated for a while, with Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck rumored to take the job should it open.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.