On the day Ohio State finally made the addition of Alex Grinch to the coaching staff official in Columbus, Mike Leach wasted little time in getting a replacement in Pullman, Washington. Washington State has reportedly hired former Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys to fill the role as defensive coordinator.
According to a report from The Star Tribune, Claeys has agreed to a two-year contract. There has been no official update out of Washington State at this time, but the addition of Claeys seems to be an intriguing one for Leach and the Cougars.
Grinch did a solid job in reshaping how Washington State performed on defense. Claeys will bring with him a good amount of experience as a defensive coordinator, having held the role from 1999 through 2015 between jobs at Emporia State, Southern Illinois, Northern Illinois, and Minnesota under former Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill. Claeys was named interim head coach of Minnesota in 2015 when Kill stepped aside to focus on his health, and Claeys was named the full-time head coach of Minnesota after that interim season. He held the job for just one season before Minnesota parted ways with Claeys and hired P.J. Fleck from Western Michigan.
Ironically, the last team Claeys beat as head coach of the Gophers was Washington State in the Holiday Bowl at the end of the 2016 season. Claeys and Minnesota held Washington State to just 12 points in the game. The only touchdown allowed by Minnesota came with just 19 seconds remaining in the game.