The hunt for a new football coach at the University of Minnesota is on after Tuesday's firing of Tracy Claeys. Even before Claeys was fired, there were reports about Minnesota's interest in Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck. And ESPN has added four other names to the list:
- Les Miles - fired by LSU
- Bryan Harsin - head coach at Boise State
- Chris Klieman - head coach at NDSU
- Joe Moorhead - offensive coordinator at Penn State
"Minnesota's initial preference to be Claeys' successor is Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck, although a source close to Fleck told ESPN there has not been any contact between the school and the coach. Other candidates immediately expected to be considered for the opening include former LSU and Oklahoma State coach Les Miles and Boise State's Bryan Harsin, who was hired by Coyle when he worked there. Minnesota is also expected to target Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead and North Dakota State coach Chris Klieman, a source told ESPN's Brett McMurphy."
Miles is the big name on the board, but 247Sports reported in December that he wants to coach at a school where he can win championships. Does Minnesota meet that standard in his mind? Plus, he's 63 years old.
“Everyone is trending younger and trending offense, generally,” an agent told 247Sports. “That doesn’t bode well for Les.”
Regardless, Miles owns 141 career victories from his days at LSU and Oklahoma, including the 2007 national championship.
Harsin interviewed for the Oregon job but reports Dec. 6 said he was expected to remain at Boise State. In three years at Boise he's won 31 games, including the Fiesta Bowl in 2014.
Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle hired Harsin at Boise State, but luring him to Minnesota could be tough. Harsin went to high school in Boise, played quarterback at Boise State before becoming a graduate assistant and then offensive coordinator there. He left and coached at Texas and Arkansas State from 2011-13 before Coyle brought him back to his hometown.
Klieman is interesting because he's the man leading NDSU and has recruiting roots in place in the midwest. Not to mention he played high school football with Coyle in Iowa.
According to Mike McFeely of the Fargo Forum, Klieman to the Gophers is a long shot because he has very little experience at college football's highest level.
But he does know what it takes to win. He was defensive backs coach at NDSU in 2011 when the Bison's streak of five straight national titles started. In 2013 he took over as defensive coordinator and replaced Craig Bohl as head coach in 2014.
NDSU finished 12-2 this season and lost in the national semifinals to James Madison.
Moorhead's name has gained steam with Penn State's rise from the ashes. His offense was on full display in the Rose Bowl when they put up 49 points in a loss to USC. It was the seventh straight game Penn State scored at least 38 points.
He listened to offers to become the head coach at Purdue and UCONN but settled for staying in Happy Valley, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.