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University of Minnesota fires football coach Tracy Claeys

Coach Tracy Claeys
Coach Tracy Claeys

At ESPN, Adam Rittenberg covers Tracy Claeys’ firing. He says, “Claeys met only with athletic director Mark Coyle on Tuesday, but Coyle had the full support of the board of trustees and university president Eric Kaler, a school source said. Coyle said in a statement that he made the decision 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.’’ ‘I won’t be up here freezing my ass off, so y’all enjoy the winter,’ Claeys told Minneapolis TV station KSTP a few hours after being fired.”

For CBS, Sports Chip Patterson writes, “Even after ending its boycott, Minnesota’s football team has apparently not gotten on the same page with athletic director Mark Coyle and the rest of the school’s administration. Tracy Claeys was fired as the team’s coach on Tuesday, and quarterback Mitch Leidner has been one of the first to offer a response from the players perspective. ‘I don’t know who  would want to be a part of this program,’ Leidner told ESPN’s Brett McMurphy. Another unnamed underclassman told McMurphy, ‘We don’t want to play for administration. Countless people will transfer if possible.’”

Over at Sports Illustrated, Brian Hamilton asks a question that runs pretty much constantly through minds around here. “This is not a result with a lot of loose ends. There is one lingering question, though. Why does stuff like this keep happening at Minnesota? It’s a major-conference program, but no one mistakes it for a striving college athletic leviathan that may or may not have to grind the rulebook and ethics into a fine paste to maintain its lofty status. Minnesota athletics is realistically a mid-level business with fair-but-not-outsized expectations, and yet it all too consistently faces extraordinarily high-end humiliations.

Meanwhile, while assessing the “Top Five” candidates to replace Claeys, Aaron Torres at Fox Sports says, “[P.J.] Fleck was the breakout star of 2016, after leading Western Michigan to a 13-0 regular season and trip to the Cotton Bowl. And even though the Broncos lost to Wisconsin in Dallas, that won’t change the fact that Fleck remains one of the hottest names in coaching circles. The fact that he remained at Western Michigan following this season is a minor miracle, and a boon for the Broncos and MAC as a whole going into 2017.  At the same, that reason – that Fleck’s star is only going to continue to rise – is one of the main reasons why it’s hard to imagine he would leave Kalamazoo for Minneapolis.” Oh hell, offer him a boat load of money. Isn’t that always the plan?

For The Detroit News, Tony Paul writes, “Fleck, 36, coaching 13-0 Western Michigan in Monday’s Cotton Bowl, is “close” to an extension and a raise at WMU, The Detroit News first reported last month. But the deal, expected to at least double his $800,000 base salary and add years on to a current deal that runs through 2020, has not yet been officially finalized. … Fleck has a $600,000 buyout if he were to leave Western Michigan for another job in the next year. Fired LSU coach Les Miles and perhaps even just-fired 49ers coach Chip Kelly could also be candidates should Minnesota fire Claeys. There could be more prime college jobs available in the coming days, too, with at least six NFL head-coaching vacancies.”

Speaking of candidates. Brandt Williams at MPR says, “Jacob Frey, a first-term Minneapolis City Council member, announced on Tuesday that he will try to unseat current mayor Betsy Hodges. … Before his election, he practiced law and focused on workplace discrimination cases. Frey is the fourth announced challenger to Hodges. The other three are former Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds, filmmaker Aswar Rahman and Raymond Dehn, a Democrat in the state House.”

Yeah, it’s cold … but snow-wise it’s sub-par. At KMSP-TV, Cody Matz says, “While parts of the Canadian border are hanging onto some pretty decent snow, about the southern three quarters of state have pretty lackluster depth.  In many cases in the metro, it’s 3 inches or less.  Even isolated parts of southern Minnesota have zero snow on the ground.  But if you look to the northwest, the combination of 3 different large storms and the persistent cold, parts of North Dakota have well over 2 feet of snow depth.  In fact, it’s been one of the snowiest seasons so far to date in North Dakota history with Bismarck nearly top 4 feet of snow for the season.” God bless ‘em and all that, but why would I go to Bismarck in January?

In case you need some hip-hop cred, here’s Jay Boller at City Pages, “Atlanta’s Lil Yachty scored a viral hit in 2016 with ‘Minnesota,’ the oddball teenage rap star’s ode to being as cold as the namesake state (the music video features an ‘ice resurfacer,’ Zamboni Co.’s lawyers informed City Pages). And last week Allan Kingdom, Minnesota’s own rising hip-hop talent, reworked the track to include iconography specific to the Gopher State. ‘I been all around the globe, yeah / But I stay in Minnesota’ he sings over Yachty’s familiar piano hook, going on to name-check Timberwolves star Zach LaVine, ‘a bitch in Anoka’ who does ‘the splits on the sofa,’ the Mall of America, and ‘Purple Rain’.”

I’m no prophet, but my antennae twitch every time I hear the MyPillow guy. Also, in City Pages, Mike Mullen follows the company’s troubles, saying, “MyPillow feedback on the BBB’s website is overwhelmingly negative: Nearly three-quarters of the people offering their thoughts had bad things to say. Several recent complaints lodged there deal with the company’s apparently misleading ‘sales’ information. Here’s one example: The advertising states ‘ buy one pillow get one free’ When checking out the price of 1 pillow it clearly states it is 49.00 If you check the ‘buy one get one free offer’ you are required to pay 99.00 … ’ To its credit, MyPillow logged in to respond to complainant ‘Debbie H.’, explaining how it works: A pillow’s $99.97. You can either buy one at that price and get a second one free, or buy that one pillow for half-off, meaning $49.98.” My question all along is … who falls for this stuff?

In the PiPress, Chris Hewitt interviews film producer/director Bill Pohlad on the release of the new movie, “A Monster Calls.” “Bill Pohlad was in his New York apartment, reading a script, when he started sobbing. The script was for ‘A Monster Calls,’ the coming-of-age drama that opens today. Writer/director J.A. Bayona (‘The Impossible’, ‘The Orphanage’) had sent Pohlad the script, thinking they might like to work together on it. And Pohlad, through tears, agreed. … He is an executive producer of ‘Monster,’ in which a young, English boy takes solace in an unlikely source — a tree monster — when his mother (Felicity Jones) becomes critically ill.” 

Where were we on that “America’s Greatest Drivers” list again? Stribber Eric Roper reports, “Drivers hit and killed more pedestrians in Minnesota last year than any other year in the past quarter century, according to a preliminary total released Tuesday. The Department of Public Safety said 60 pedestrians died on Minnesota roads in 2016, 19 more than the previous year.”

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Comments (8)

  1. Submitted by Jeffrey Swainhart on 01/04/2017 - 06:30 am.

    Jason Lewis in the New Congress

    The voters of MN Congressional District 2 can’t be proud that their new congressman Jason Lewis’ first vote was to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. Of course it wasn’t an official floor vote but it reveals the kind of congressman they’ve elected. Buyers remorse? Anyone?

  2. Submitted by Greg Price on 01/04/2017 - 08:31 am.

    Claeys needed to go….the way he handled the whole situation was insensitive and reprehensible.
    Besides…he wasn’t half the coach Jerry Kill was anyway…Get Bo Pellini in here…

    If the football team wants to transfer…let them…get a high character coach in that will not put up with such nonsense. There are winning programs that do not have their player participating in such questionable activities….like WI or IA…

    Kudos to the UM administration to getting it right this time.

    Now lets hope they make a great hire…not a good one. As far as the rest of the football team leaving to transfer….let them go. They can take their year and sit out per NCAA regs. With the competition for D-1 scholarships it wont be a problem getting equally good morally responsible players back in here.

    Someone needs to impress upon the players…go ahead and leave…it’s like pulling your finger out of the water…you won’t leave a hole.

    Greg Price

    • Submitted by Bryce Elson on 01/04/2017 - 11:58 am.

      other programs

      Greg, while I do not disagree with the decision, I do find reference to other programs who
      don’t have players participating in questionable activities and citing Iowa and Wisconsin as same… a bit specious. I suggest you google player issues at both of those football programs , and you will find they have similar issues.

      I honestly can think of few D-1 football programs who haven’t had issues over the years … maybe BYU? Certainly not places like Notre Dame, Florida State, Penn State, Oregon, etc.

      The difference being that at places where teams win and are highly rated and make a lot of money for the University, situations are “handled” (Florida State and Notre Dame are poster boys for this), and many other problems never see the light of day. Sadly this is part and parcel of the entire game…

    • Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 01/04/2017 - 12:49 pm.


      the ‘sacrificial lamb’….an outsider in this situation who made a comment without insider information. He ‘fit the role’ for our inept U/M’s administration who desperately needed a fall guy for an embarrassing unfortunate situation for the University. Rather than meeting with and including Claeys from the beginning, (gosh, he was the head coach of those 10 young men) they quickly decided to take the easy way out, fire him, and pat themselves on the back for ‘taking quick action.’

  3. Submitted by Pat Berg on 01/04/2017 - 12:36 pm.

    MyPillow, an American Dream

    Or so says RFDTV who recently did an entire special program on the life of the MyPillow founder, Mike Lindell:

  4. Submitted by Pat Terry on 01/04/2017 - 01:39 pm.


    He fired himself when he made that tweet. There was no coming back from that one.

    • Submitted by Jackson Cage on 01/04/2017 - 02:59 pm.

      Unless your name is Mike Sherels

      a coach who (a) was on record supporting the boycott and (b) was one of only 2 coaches retained.

  5. Submitted by James Hamilton on 01/04/2017 - 04:23 pm.

    A Monster Calls

    sounds suspiciously similar to My Neighbor Totoro.

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