Players excited about Claeys’ promotion

The players were given the news on Wednesday during a morning meeting.

Wide receiver KJ Maye enters the end zone, scoring a touchdown in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium Sept. 19 where the Gophers defeated Kent State 10-7.

Wide receiver KJ Maye enters the end zone, scoring a touchdown in the second quarter at TCF Bank Stadium Sept. 19 where the Gophers defeated Kent State 10-7.

Mike Hendrickson

The Minnesota football team received a group text late Tuesday night about a team meeting at 7:15 a.m. the next morning.
 
Senior cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun said he knew what was going to happen.
 
“The last time we had a 7:15 a.m. text, [the news] was the complete opposite,” Boddy-Calhoun said. “I knew it was something pretty important.”
 
Interim athletics director Beth Goetz informed the team at the early morning meeting on Wednesday that interim head coach Tracy Claeys was being promoted to full-time head coach.
 
The news came exactly two weeks after the team had been called in for a meeting about former head coach Jerry Kill’s sudden retirement.
 
However, the announcement wasn’t met with sadness this time by the team. Instead, there was excitement.
 
“It was great,” sophomore defensive tackle Steven Richardson said. “Everybody feels secure now.”
 
Players started to applaud after Goetz made the announcement, Boddy-Calhoun said.
 
“I was just sort of in awe,” Boddy-Calhoun said. “Just sitting in there, just happy.”
 
Claeys served as the team’s interim head coach for its last two games and was Minnesota’s defensive coordinator since Kill was hired in 2010. 
 
He also served as the team’s interim head coach in 2013 for seven games when Kill took a leave of absence.
 
Kill’s recent retirement was surprising to the team, and the players were left with an uncertain future. But Wednesday’s meeting made things more clear.
 
“It was great to see them smile,” Claeys said.
 
Even though some players are seniors and only have three games left, senior wide receiver KJ Maye said they are excited for the future of the team.
 
“Coach Claeys is a good coach,” Maye said. “He’s well-qualified for the job. He does a good job getting guys ready to go. Guys find him as a good leader. He’ll be good.”
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edshirt senior defensive tackle Theiren Cockran said Claeys’ previous experience as the interim head coach helped the players know he could work as the team’s full-time head coach.
 
“Just like Coach Kill, he’s a competitive guy,” Cockran said. “He wants to win every game, win every play. He holds us to a high standard.”
 
The team went 0-2 in Claeys’ two games as interim head coach against opponents No. 15 Michigan and No. 2 Ohio State.
 
The schedule won’t get much easier for Claeys in the full-time role, as the Gophers are set to play No. 8 Iowa, Illinois and No. 23 Wisconsin to finish the year.
 
The team will need to end the year strongly to make a bowl game, but Maye said the team will have no problem continuing its intensity.
 
“Everybody’s more comfortable,” Maye said. “We’re still going to have to play the same way we’ve been playing. We just have more motivation [now].”