Former Gophers football coach Tracy Claeys announced Wednesday that he is leaving his post as linebackers coach at Virginia Tech and retiring from coaching.
But Claeys, who said he has lost 125 pounds, left himself an opening to return if a defensive coordinator opportunity arises.
Claeys, who turned 52 on Christmas Day, came to Minnesota as Jerry Kill's defensive coordinator in 2011 and took over as head coach when Kill resigned because of health reasons in 2015. Claeys went 11-8 as Gophers head coach but was fired in December 2016, following a sexual assault scandal involving several players.
Claeys went on to become the defensive coordinator at Washington State and spent last season as the linebackers coach at Virginia Tech.
"On behalf of our entire football program, I want to thank Tracy Claeys for his contributions to our team," Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said in a statement. "Even though he was only with us for a short time, Tracy made a lasting impact on our players and coaches. Tracy is not only an outstanding football coach, but he's also one of the finest people I've had the pleasure of working with in this profession."
Claeys thanked Fuente in the news release and said he'll always have a place in his heart for Virginia Tech.
In his Twitter announcement Claeys added: "I want to be clear that this announcement has nothing to do with health problems. Over the last 18 months I have lost 125 pounds and feel great. I still have the love and passion to coach the game and be involved in helping kids become young adults. I love the evaluation process in recruiting and building relationships with prospects, families and coaches. However, I want to spend some time with my family and friends back in KS and decide what is next.
"As to my future, I do reserve the right to return to the game if a great situation to be a Defensive Coordinator comes along.If that opportunity does not happen for me, I have been very fortunate to spend the last 25 years coaching the game I love and being around people I love.I will sleep good every night knowing I gave my best to the players, the coaches and to the universities."