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Minnesota Coaching Search Wish List: 5 Replacements For Tracy Claeys

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Minnesota fired head coach Tracy Claeys on Tuesday. Here are some candidates who could possibly replace Claeys, including Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck.


Tracy Claeys has been fired as Minnesota head coach after just two seasons. The dismissal comes just days after the Golden Gophers shocked Washington State with a 17-12 victory in the Holiday Bowl.

However, Claeys’ public support of a player boycott stemming from the schools investigation in a sexual assault allegation ultimately played a role in his firing. Ten players were suspended for the Holiday Bowl.

Minnesota begins its search to replace Claeys immediately, and there is plenty of speculation as to who will take the job. Here are five potential candidates from around the nation.

P.J. Fleck, Western Michigan head coach

Under Fleck, Western Michigan put together an undefeated regular season, complete with a MAC championship, and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. His Broncos beat Big Ten West opponents Northwestern and Illinois in non-conference play, and he has been a tireless and successful recruiter since arriving in Kalamazoo. He not only wins football games, but he has been the face of a program throughout the Kalamazoo community as well. He’s a Midwest guy who would be dealing with similar recruiting terrain on a bigger stage. Factor in that Fleck coached under former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill at NIU, and the Golden Gophers have to make him Priority No. 1.

Troy Calhoun, Air Force head coach

Calhoun was a candidate for this job before the Gophers ultimately hired Jerry Kill in 2010. He is 77-53 with the Falcons, including a pair of 10-3 marks in the last three years. He has also spent some time in the NFL. Calhoun is coaching in a Group of Five league, and he may not get many more opportunities to jump to the Power Five. This would be a good fit for him as a veteran coach knowing that the gap between the Power Five and Group of Five schools will remain wide.

Craig Bohl, Wyoming head coach

Look at what he did at Wyoming this season. After racking up a 104-32 mark and three straight national championships at FCS program North Dakota State, Bohl took the Cowboys to the Mountain West championship game and led them to an 8-6 mark. He is a Midwest native that would be able to stabilize the Gophers program and win right away. It’s a great cultural fit.

Bryan Harsin, Boise State head coach

Athletic director Mike Coyle hired Harsin from Arkansas State in 2014 when Coyle was AD at Boise State, making it unsurprising that Harsin would be considered for the job in Minneapolis. Harsin has gone 31-9 in three seasons guiding the Broncos, including a Fiesta Bowl victory in his first year. Given Harsin’s success in Boise and his history with Coyle, this could be a good match for both sides.

Dave Aranda, LSU defensive coordinator

Aranda isn’t far off from earning his first head coaching job, and he could get some consideration from Minnesota. He has familiarity with the Big Ten after spending three seasons as Wisconsin’s defensive coordinator before getting a huge pay raise to accept the same position at LSU prior to this year. The Badgers finished in the top 10 nationally in total defense in each of his years in Madison.

MORE: Minnesota Fires Head Coach Tracy Claeys

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