The Minnesota Golden Gophers football team is heading into the season under first year coach Tracy Claeys, will 2016 bring in a new era of success?
Minnesota Golden Gophers football is on the verge of the Tracy Claeys era. Claeys will have the opportunity to show the Big Ten what he can bring as the head football coach at the University of Minnesota.
Will he become a temporary place-setter for a more high profile name, or will the 2016 season be the first of many successful years to come?
Claeys professional coaching career began with his longtime friend and former Gophers coach Jerry Kill at Saginaw Valley State back in 1995. Claeys stuck with coach Kill for the next twenty-one years, with stops at Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and eventually the U of M in 2010. Claeys started as a defensive line coach and worked his way up the ladder to eventually become a coordinator and an assistant head coach.
On November 11, 2015 Tracy was named the Gophers head coach after Jerry Kill’s resignation due to health issues.
Claeys forte has always been on defense. He inherited a struggling unit upon his arrival, but managed to turn the Gophers into a top level Big Ten defensive squad. Since 2011, eight Gopher players have been taken in the NFL Draft, all eight played defense. The Gophers “D” lost some key players, leaving coach Claeys with some tough decisions.
How much input will Claeys offer first year offensive coordinator Jay Johnson? Gophers QB recruit Seth Green is turning heads and may give Mitch Leidner a legitimate battle for the starting job. Will Claeys take a risk and roll with the youngster, or will Leidner’s experience win out?
Be better than mediocre
With the exception of the 2015 Citrus Bowl appearance, Gophers football has hovered around mediocre for the last decade. Maroon and Gold fans would love to see their team take that next step. With powerhouses like Michigan and Ohio State ruling the conversation, Gopher fans are clamoring for a relevant and consistent winner. Coach Kill had the university trending upward and fans want that trend to continue.
A lifelong assistant who is finally getting a shot at head coach, hoping Tracy can channel his inner Mike Zimmer.