Athletic Director Beth Goetz
We are pleased to announce Tracy Claeys as the new head football coach at the University of Minnesota. Given the improvement of this program both academically and athletically and Coach Claeys' essential leadership role, we are convinced that he is the right coach to lead this program and our student-athletes.
We know that Coach Claeys and his staff will continue to recruit talent and develop excellent young men both on and off the field while building on Jerry Kill's strong foundation. Tracy will bring his own energy and commitment to excellence while embracing Gopher athletic's unwavering commitment to its studentathletes.
In addition to transforming Gopher's defense into one of the best in the Big Ten, Tracy was Minnesota's acting head coach in 2013 for seven games and led the Gophers to a 4-3 overall mark. This includes consecutive wins against Northwestern, Nebraska, Indiana and Penn State. It was the first time since 1973 that our football program won four straight conference games in the season.
After reviewing Tracy's career and his leadership and development of our student-athletes in the time he has been here at the University, we made the determination that Tracy was the leader to whom we wanted to entrust our football program and our student-athletes.
I strongly believe we have a head coach and staff to continue the momentum and build a successful Big Ten football program long into the future.
Q: Beth, just to be clear now, the assistants that have been part of this for so long, so there is no decision on that today or what is the time line in terms of this football staff?
BG: Yeah, the assistants are under contract until the end of January, and then certainly we'll continue to evaluate as we always do.
Head Coach Tracy Claeys
I'd like to thank Beth, President Kaler, Dean Johnson is here and the board for their support and trust in me to represent the University of Minnesota and be in charge as a head football coach. It's a great honor to follow a guy who trained all of us very well in Coach Kill, and what Rebecca meant to all of us and their family.
I can't wait to actually get this over with and get started actually, officially. I did talk to coach last night, and the last thing I tried to get him to do is to take those last two games on his record since I'm officially starting today.
But our kids have done a tremendous job, we'll continue to build on the same principles, education's important and competing for a Big Ten Championship. We'll do it the right way to make the whole state proud. So, again, thank you very much for the opportunity.
Q. What is the number one thing you learned from Coach Kill, not just as a football coach, but recruiting, people skills and all those things?
TC: I think there are two things. One is how you treat people. You treat people with respect and along with that, don't judge people until you walk in their steps. If you haven't walked in their footsteps, don't judge people. There's good in everybody, there really is. So to respect people and how you treat them, you'll get a lot farther along in life than the alternative way.
Q. Can you talk about how you're going to, with your personality, put your stamp on this team and you'll be different from Coach Kill?
TC: Well, as I said, we have different personalities and different personalities have different pet peeves, little things. Little things that may have bothered him that didn't bother me and vice versa. So as the season goes on, that will probably take over.
But there won't be anything major. We're right here in the middle of the season. We've got three big games left that we feel good about. Kids are excited. So you won't see anything tremendously major here in the next three weeks.
Like we always do when the season's over, we'll evaluate everything and be a few adjustments that fit my personality.
Q. Will you be defensive coordinator as well or will you bring somebody in for that?
TC: Right now Jay has been doing an awful lot of it. Saw Bill and the defensive staff and I sat in there, so I still think until the end of the year we'll just see where it all goes with that part of it. But he's done a great job with him and the staff, so feel good about that.
Obviously, I don't have as much time to spend in there to do that, and I need to get to know the offensive kids more. That's something being a defensive coordinator, it's like a split team during the week as far as who you spend all your time with. Those kids on offense deserve as much of my time now as the kids on defense did. So that's where I'll try to get to know those kids more.
Q. Is it true you did this without an agent?
TC: Yes, yes. There was no back and forth on contractor anything like that. Like Beth said, we had little discussions and, hey, I wanted the opportunity to be the head football coach here and we were always on the same page as far as all that goes. So there was no need for an agent. No need for anything else. We got it done.
Q. What was important to you in the process in terms of does that signal to recruits in terms of it could have been, for example, one year or something?
TC: Right, right. We were talking. I'm comfortable with three years because really any head coach has got three years. They could say there are five years on the contract. If they don't have three good years, they're done. You know what I'm saying? So very comfortable with everything about the contract. It's our job to continue to improve, which we will, and then all that stuff will take care of itself.
That's one thing Coach said, just work hard every day and things will take care of itself, and I believe we'll be here for a long time.
Q. If his health allowed it, would you have Coach Kill on your staff?
TC: I told him he's welcome any time, any time. I told him he could come in from 8:00 to noon and be there just as an advisor. But I talked to him two or three times a week, and always will, always will, as a friend and as a coach.