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3 big issues facing Gophers football following Claeys' firing

Tracy Claeys' termination signals a challenging time ahead for Minnesota football.

There are some big questions facing the Gophers football program at a critical time, following the termination of coach Tracy Claeys Tuesday.

University of Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle said a national search to replace Claeys is underway.

Here is a look at the three biggest challenges facing the Gophers football program right now.

1. What will happen with current players?

There is no question the decision to terminate Claeys will not sit well with many Gopher football players.

If there was any question about that, check out what some players – including quarterback Mitch Leidner told ESPN reporter Brett McMurphy Tuesday.

Other players turned their frustration towards social media Tuesday. So expect some transfers.

The timing is also challenging because it comes less than one month before National Signing Day, so time is of the essence.

2. Is Minnesota an attractive job?

While the situation around the Claeys dismissal may be a drawback for any coaches looking at the Minnesota job, overall the job isn't a bad one.

During his press conference Tuesday evening Coyle was confident they would find a football coach.

The university has had some trouble filling previous positions, but according to The Daily Gopher, there are some reasons why the job should be attractive to a new coach.

  1. Facilities
  2. Young defensive talent
  3. Big Ten West
  4. Recent trend of success.

3. Who are names to watch?

While it's too soon to say for sure, one name to watch during the Gophers hiring process is Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck. Before Claeys was let go on Tuesday there were reports linking Fleck to Minnesota.

He led Western Michigan (13-1) all the way to the Cotton Bowl this year where they were beaten 24-16 by Wisconsin Monday.

Other names could include:

Gus Bradley: Former Jacksonville Jaguars head coach. He's a Minnesota native and has a ton of experience as a college coach – including 10 years as the North Dakota State defensive coordinator.

Bryan Harsin: Boise State head coach. Coyle hired him at Boise State when Chris Peterson left for Washington.

Craig Bohl: We'll throw in another local name. Bohl, the head coach at Wyoming, led the Cowboys to an 8-6 record this year, appearing in the Poinsettia Bowl where they lost to BYU 24-21. Bohl spent 11 seasons (2003-13) as the head coach at NDSU, where his team won three straight NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) National Championships.

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