Under Tracy Claeys, the Salukis have ranked among the best defensive units in the nation in I-AA each of the last four seasons. In 2005, SIU was #13 in rushing defense. In 2004, the Salukis led the nation in scoring defense, holding opponents to a school record 13.2 ppg. So dominant was Claeys' defensive squad that it held seven of 12 opponents to 10 or fewer points in 2004. In 2003, Southern ranked 18th in the nation in total defense.
Under Claeys, SIU has adapted its schemes to fit the strengths of personnel, yet consistently plays an attacking style.
Claeys has a history of mentoring solid defenses. He accompanied Kill to SIU in 2001 after spending two seasons as a defensive assistant at Emporia State (1999-2000). He coached at Saginaw Valley State (1995-98), tutoring the defensive line and linebackers, and the defense finished sixth in the nation against the run one year and led the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference.
Two of Claeys' former SVSU players played in the NFL -- DE Lamar King (Seattle, Tampa Bay) and DE Paul Spicer (Detroit, Jacksonville). He also mentored Saluki linebacker Bart Scott, who is in his fifth season with the Baltimore Ravens.
A 1994 graduate of Kansas State, Claeys began his coaching career as a student-assistant at Kansas in 1990, and later as co-defensive coordinator at Santa Fe Trail H.S. in Carbondale, Kan.