It has been well-documented that Tuesday is the day where University of Minnesota’s Athletic Director, Mark Coyle is planning to meet with his head football coach, Tracy Claeys. The meeting it to determine the future of Claeys and his staff at the University of Minnesota.
Following the Gopher’s regular season loss at Wisconsin, Coyle released a statement giving Claeys his full support.
He is our head football coach. As is the case with every one of our head coaches, he has my full support.
Most assumed that this meant Claeys had earned himself an extension with his 8-4 record in his first season as the permanent head coach. In fact sources told the Star Tribune that Claeys had been assured he and his staff would be coming back next season.
According to the sources, Coyle actually notified Claeys a month ago that the coach would be coming back next season. With Claeys on the road recruiting Monday, they spoke by telephone, with Coyle reconfirming that commitment.
To be clear, it was never Coyle giving any assurances that an extension was pending, but he did give support while stating that he and Coach Claeys would be meeting to discuss things.
“Our football program has now won eight games in the regular season three times in four seasons,” Coyle’s statement said. “We expect that our program will continue to grow and I am committed to putting us in a position to do so.
“This includes working with Coach Claeys to evaluate where we need to improve and what each of us can do to ensure we meet our expectations.”
No further information was made public and all was quite on the extension front for a couple week.
Then on December 13th 10 Gopher football players were suspended with 5 of them facing possible expulsion for their participation in an alleged sexual assault on campus. This became a nation story when the rest of the football team rallied behind their suspended teammates and threatened to boycott the Gopher’s Holiday Bowl game against Washington State.
Coach Claeys was not a part of his team’s decision but he did support his players with this tweet...
Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world! 〽️— GoldenGopherHFC (@GoldenGopherHFC) December 16, 2016
And this is widely considered the moment when the extension for Coach Claeys came into question. The above Tweet has been called into question and lead to a petition to the University requesting that Coach Claeys be fired.
That petition was awkwardly delivered to the athletic department and to President Kaler’s office.
Since then the Gophers have played out their bowl game, an upset win over Washington State. Following the bowl win, Coach Claeys spent the rest of the holidays with this family in Kansas while Coyle spent his time in Idaho. Coyle stating that once they returned to work after the holidays, the two would meet to discuss the future of Coach Claeys and Gopher Football.
This meeting is Tuesday and speculation is growing that the future of Coach Claeys being a Gopher is in doubt.
And this is the point where we are all left to make our own assumptions and follow internet speculation as to what Coyle is planning to do. One persistent rumor is that the timing of the Tuesday meeting is really intended to give Coyle time to negotiate a deal with Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck after their Cotton Bowl loss Monday afternoon to Wisconsin.
It is also quite likly that Coyle and Claeys will sit down, have a difficult conversation and Claeys will leave with the promise of an extension. Coach Claeys guided the Gophers to a 9-4 record, the first 9-win season since Glen Mason’s 2003 team won 10 games. While the ceiling of Claeys as a coach and what the future looks like with him leading the team is debatable...his 9-win season is hard to ignore and it’s unlikely he gets let go for on-the-field reasons.
Regardless of the decision, a decision needs to be made. Recruiting is on-going and signing day is a month away. Whether it be Coach Claeys or a new staff is brought in, the Gophers need to have time to fill this recruiting class. Expect a decision to be made tomorrow.
We should find out more tomorrow afternoon. Whatever the decision, tomorrow is a big one for the future of Gopher football. Stay tuned.