The Gopher Football head coaching vacancy was open for a very short period of time. Approximately 65 hours was how long it took, by comparison the Jerry Kill hire took 50 days. But it is being reported that Mark Coyle has offered the job to Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck and he has accepted the position.
Per both WWMT in Michigan and Andy Greder of the Pioneer Press, Western Michigan coach PJ Fleck has confirmed he’ll accept the head coaching position at Minnesota!
WMU coach P.J. Fleck confirms to Newschannel 3, CBS News, WWMT, West Michigan he is taking the job at the University of Minnesota.— Kirk Mason (@KirkMasonWWMT) January 6, 2017
Coyle has acted decisively and swiftly in what turned out to be a very quick coaching search and subsequent hire.
Fleck has been one of the hottest names associated with many of the 17 job openings that came available in the recent weeks. Cincinatti, Purdue, Houston and Oregon were reportedly interested to varying degrees this fall. Last year, he was the top choice for both Rutgers and Syracuse. But it was the Minnesota opening and the right timing that lured him away from Western Michigan.
Get to Know Your New Head Coach
TDG Profile: Get to Know PJ Fleck - S&P stats, recruiting rankings and everything you really want to know.
Video Homework: This is good stuff.
Resume: Fleck has spent the last four seasons as the head coach of Western Michigan. This is his only head coaching experience. He took over a Broncos program that had won 4 games in the prior season. Year one was a struggle but then they saw improvement each year on their way to a 13-0 season this year that resulted in a BCS Bowl bid and a loss to Wisconsin.
- 2013 - 1-11 record
- 2014 - 8-5 and a loss in the Idaho Potato Bowl
- 2015 - 8-5 and a win over Middle Tennessee State in the Bahamas Bowl
- 2016 - 13-1 with a MAC Championship and a loss in the Cotton Bowl
Prior to being hired at Western Michigan here is the short timeline of Fleck’s career. He did work in 2009 with Jerry Kill in Kill’s first year at NIU, he was one of just 2 assistants to stay on at NIU under Kill.
- 2006 - Ohio State - Graduate Ast (under Jim Tressel)
- 2007-08 - Northern Illinois - WRs
- 2009 - Northern Illinos - WR / Recruiting Coord
- 2010-11 - Rutgers - WRs (under Greg Schiano)
- 2012 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers - WRs
- 2013-16 - Western Michigan - Head Coach
- 2017 - Minnesota - Head Coach
Personal Life: Fleck is originally from Maple Park, Illinois and went to play football at Northern Illinois. He was previously married, they had four children with one son dying shortly after birth. He and his first wife divorced and he has since remarried in February of 2016.
Football, What Can We Expect?
Well Fleck is a rather upbeat, positive, motivational and charismatic guy. Many around the Twin Cities will liken him to a former Gopher coach with a similar personality. The difference here is that Fleck has actual head coaching experience and he has proven he can win. Will that translate to wins here? We will find out.
Expect that we will see an uptick in recruiting with Fleck. He is relentless and is good at communicating his message to players. With the new facilities, his enthusiasm and a bigger recruiting budget going after Big Ten players; I fully expect we will see an pretty significant uptick in recruiting in the first couple years. After that, wins and program momentum will matter.
Expect better offensive production, particularly wide receiver production. As IowaGopher pointed out in his Fleck profile, Western Michigan saw it’s offense (particularly his passing offense) improve each and every season. Culminating in the 5th best passing offense according to S&P this past season. But part of that production is due to a solid receiving corp led by Corey Davis, a 1st or 2nd round draft pick this coming Spring.
Well Fleck will be on a whirlwind tour of calling recruits, pulling together his staff and meeting all of the key people at the U. He has about a month till National Signing Day and then he has to get ready for Spring Practice. Making a coaching change this late in the year puts he and his staff a little behind.
If Coyle was going to make a move, this was one of the names at the top of the list that he needed to land. PJ Fleck has made a name for himself in his early career and is a hot commodity. We’ve got him locked up for now and it’s his turn to continue to build the Gopher Football program.
Stay tuned here for staff hires, recruiting updates and more opinion on this hire.