Word finally came down yesterday morning that Tracy Claeys has been named the 27th head coach of Minnesota Football, and it was probably overdue. With the Gopher Athletic Department currently in the midst of a Title IX investigation over multiple shenanigans (both warranted and perceived), a talented but interim interim Athletic Director, and the urgency associated with keeping the very talented recruiting class together, there was no other way for the Gophers to go. The 3-year deal (which I'll get into shortly) will be worth an average of $1.5m, and and will also allow the Gophers to retain other key staff members (READ: JAY SAWVEL!!!). I haven't been able to do the digging to get the buyout information yet, but I'm sure that it'll either be reasonable or we'll be paying for him 3 coaches down the road like we were with Glen Mason. As for the 3-year aspect, I was initially disappointed. I thought this would be a 4-year "show us what you've got" with a very reasonable buyout so that if there is a new AD that didn't like the direction of the program they could make a change, but without the negative recruiting stigma of a lame duck coach. What I believe may very well happen, and I have no proof other than a hunch, is that when the investigation results come back interim AD Beth Goetz will get the full-time gig. After that we'll see the Gophers start a very friendly non-conference slate with Oregon State and Indiana State before the bye, at which point I'd guess that Claeys will get a 2-year extension. There will be no real risk involved, just an extension to keep everything moving along.
And as for what this means, I think we've seen some of it on the field the past two weeks. Claeys is slightly more aggressive than Jerry Kill, and I personally love it. There are some annoying nuances about being a head coach he'll pick up in time (as long as he doesn't go to the Andy Reid School of Clock Management), and he's been running the best Gopher defenses of my lifetime. With Sawvel's impending promotion to DC, everything should continue to hum along nicely on that side of the ball as long as we can stop looking like a MASH unit. What I'm truly interested in seeing is if Claeys has OC Matt Limegrove put on his big boy pants and start getting aggressive (COME ON TRACY4VERTS!!!). The Gophers have shown that the defense is capable of keeping the team in games when the offense keeps sending them out on the field without much rest, and I'd love for them to maybe start being less predictable (GOODBYE, RUTM!) with the ball early in games. Those changes will probably have to take place next year, because the Gophers have more important things coming up down the stretch. Winning 2 or 3 of the final games against weaker competition than we've seen the last couple weeks would go a long way to get everyone onboard for the Claeys cruise.