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WSU hires ex-Minnesota coach Tracy Claeys as defensive coordinator

Tracy Claeys' Minnesota team beat Mike Leach's Cougars in the 2016 Holiday Bowl. (AP)

Mike Leach’s new defensive coordinator is Tracy Claeys, who coached Minnesota to a Holiday Bowl over Leach’s WSU Cougars just one season ago.

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis reported Monday afternoon that Claeys has been hired by WSU on a two-year deal. The school confirmed his hiring just hours later.

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“Tracy comes highly recommended as a tremendous teacher, strategist, and a player’s coach with an impressive body of work that has withstood the test of time,” Leach said in a press release. “We are fortunate to have him at Washington State University.”

Previous WSU defensive coordinator Alex Grinch was officially announced as the newest member of the Ohio State coaching staff earlier in the day.

Claeys, 49, led Minnesota to an 11-8 record in his short tenure as head coach, first as interim head coach for six games in 2015. His Gophers finished 9-4 in 2016, including a 17-12 win over the pass-heavy Cougars in the Holiday Bowl, but he was fired at the end of the season amidst outrage over a player boycott due to 10 Minnesota players being suspended after they were accused of having roles in a sexual assault case.

At Washington State, Claeys is reunited with defensive line coach Jeff Phelps, as the pair coached together at Minnesota from 2011-16.

Before being Gophers head coach, Claeys spent four-plus years as the Minnesota defensive coordinator, establishing the team as one of the best defenses in the Big Ten.