DETROIT – Gophers coach Tracy Claeys has picked a Minnesota native to be his next offensive coordinator, and a former Wisconsin offensive line coach to hold that role with the Gophers.
Claeys is finalizing the hire of Louisiana-Lafayette offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jay Johnson for those same roles at Minnesota, people familiar with the decision said Monday.
Johnson graduated from Lakeville High School in 1988 and played quarterback for Northern Iowa before launching his 23-year coaching career, which also includes stints as offensive coordinator at Augsburg (1994-95), Truman State (1995-96) and Southern Mississippi (2005-07).
In his five seasons at Louisiana-Lafayette, his offenses have been known for their balance between the run and the pass. Claeys has said he likes 75 to 80 percent of how the Gophers operated under former offensive coordinator Matt Limegrover.
Claeys also is close to hiring Florida Atlantic offensive line coach Bart Miller for that same role with the Gophers. Miller, 30, was the offensive line coach at Wisconsin in 2012 under Bret Bielema and was said to have Barry Alvarez’s backing, but wasn’t retained when Gary Andersen replaced Bielema.
Miller, who is from Omaha, took an assistant coach/offensive line coach position at New Mexico State in 2013 and has spent the past two years with those same titles at Florida Atlantic.
The Gophers were hoping to make the announcements Tuesday, according to people familiar with the decisions.
Claeys opened the two positions when he fired Limegrover and Jim Zebrowski on Nov. 29. Limegrover was the team’s offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, and Zebrowski was the quarterbacks coach.
Johnson was a three-time All-Gateway Conference quarterback at Northern Iowa, where he also earned the conference’s President’s Academic Excellence honor. He posted a 4.0 grade-point average while completing his master’s degree at Missouri.
Johnson worked as a graduate assistant at Kansas. Hie long résumé also includes stints as the quarterbacks coach at Kansas (1999-2001) and Central Michigan (2010). Before that, he worked as an assistant at Louisville in 2008 and ’09.
Johnson has been the offensive coordinator at Louisiana-Lafayette the past five seasons. The Ragin’ Cajuns went 4-8 this year, averaging 26.4 points per game, ranking 84th in the nation in scoring offense. But they went 9-4 the previous four seasons, ranking 32nd, 24th, 34th and 60th in the nation in scoring offense those four years.
Johnson’s father, Dick, was Mitch Leidner’s QB coach at Lakeville South.
Maye sets record
KJ Maye entered Monday’s Quick Lane Bowl with 65 catches this season, one shy of Ernie Wheelwright’s school record for a senior, set in 2007. Maye added eight catches for 67 yards and a touchdown against Central Michigan, giving him 73 receptions.
“When I caught that third pass, I’m like wow, I’m really there [as the senior record holder],” Maye said. “It was a great feeling. It was great to be in Gopher history.”
Former Gophers coach Jerry Kill served as the team’s honorary captain. He flew into Detroit with his wife, Rebecca, and watched the game from the sideline, as he did for the Nov. 28 game against Wisconsin.
During the game, Kill told the Gophers radio network, “Minnesota’s been good to me. I’ll always be a Gopher.”
Olson hired away
Gophers graduate assistant Trevor Olson was hired as the offensive line coach at Southern Illinois. The Richfield native and former Northern Illinois standout served as the Gophers offensive line coach for the bowl game.