When Tracy Claeys abruptly resigned as defensive coordinator of the Washington State Cougars, there weren’t a lot of explanations given as to how or why it happened, only that Mike Leach wanted Claeys to stay and that Claeys tweeted “we couldn’t agree on solutions.”
You knew there had to be more to the story.
For the second time this season, former WSU quarterback Connor Halliday joined the CougTalk podcast, and according to his contacts in the football building, the real story is that Claeys and defensive backs coach/new co-defensive coordinator Darcel McBath clashed, particularly after the loss to the UCLA Bruins.
“Claeys and Darcel McBath were absolutely not getting along,” Halliday said. “I mean, they were at each other throats like everyday. And after the UCLA game, Darcel — I mean, in the middle of practice, just like questioning everything Claeys was doing, and so finally Claeys said, ‘Look, if you don’t like the way I’m running things, I’ll effin’ leave.’ And Claeys called them on everybody’s bluff.
“Nothing changed, Monday rolled around, and Claeys wasn’t there, and there was a letter of resignation on his desk. And nobody ever saw him again.”
Pretty wild stuff, but it doesn’t come as much of a surprise; just watching the team, you knew something wasn’t right, that people weren’t on the same page, and it was probably at the coaching level — “dysfunctional” was the word I used to describe the defense just before Claeys resigned.
“Darcel got what he wanted,” Halliday said. “He wanted Claeys gone, and Leach has obviously had a relationship with Darcel going way back, so that’s where Leach is putting his chips in going forward.”
McBath, of course, played for Leach at Texas Tech from 2005-2008 and has been on Leach’s staff since 2017, where he was a defensive quality control assistant before being elevated to defensive backs coach before last season.
Halliday went on to say that it “kinda had been bubbling” pretty much since Claeys’ arrival, and Halliday alluded to the possibility that Claeys and former linebackers coach Ken Wilson had clashed during last season. Wilson, of course, left during the offseason to join the Oregon Ducks.
“He never was accepted into the staff the way everybody else was, and he was just kind of tired of it,” Halliday said.
You can listen to the whole podcast here — it’s well worth your time: