P.J. Fleck’s comments and responses to questions by Sid Hartman in a taped interview at Murray’s a couple days ago.
1) Sid wanted to know Fleck’s impressions – good and bad – since he arrived at Minnesota:
“So far so good,” replied Fleck. He went on to say the university, town, state and team are “thriving” for a championship in Gopher football.
2) Sid wanted to know what he thought of the state’s high school football coaches:
“This is one of the reasons I took the job,” Fleck said. He mentioned his coaching days as an assistant at Northern Illinois University and the relationships he built at that time. He said he was very impressed with coaches that he met.
At the conclusion of his response to Sid’s query, he said he would be meeting with state coaches and will “teach” them about the culture he bringing to Minnesota.
3) Sid wanted to know if he was still recruiting:
He immediately said he was, “We have three openings left (2017 class).” Regarding the remaining available slots, Fleck said they’re recruiting to their needs. However, he didn’t say what the needs are and if they’ll fill them with this year’s class. He said their emphasis is on the 2018 class.
In a later question, Fleck expressed his philosophy in recruiting; although they will take a juco player at times, they will, however, focus their recruiting on high school recruits and develop them.
4) Sid asked about the four players who recently had their suspensions lifted:
Fleck said, “I can’t talk too much because of privacy issues . . . I look forward to talking to them.”
5) Sid asked about the offensive line and spring drills:
Fleck, once again, said they only have six offensive linemen available for spring drills. He also said they’re thin in the defensive line and have spots to fill.
In a later question, Fleck said the team had 20 off-season surgeries and he wants to change that. He didn’t list any players who underwent surgery or how he plans to address the problem of excess surgeries now that he’s coaching the Gophers.
6) The question of quarterbacks heading in to spring drills was raised:
Again, he did not list the quarterbacks that will be competing this spring. However, he said, “We’ve got some that played (Conor Rhoda and Demry Croft).” He stressed he’s looking forward to spring drills and seeing what the quarterback competition looks like.
7) Sid asked about the players that followed Fleck to Minnesota who had committed to him and Western Michigan last year:
Fleck did not spend too much time on the question; however, what he emphasized in his response was the “character” of the players that followed him to Minnesota. Character is important to Fleck in recruiting players - needing to know the player’s strengths.
8) Sid asked about getting the Twin Cities Fortune 500 companies involved in the Minnesota program:
Fleck said one of the great strengths of the Twin Cities is the number of Fortune 500 companies, and he will be calling on their CEOs and presidents. The opportunities that are available to players after their playing days are over will be a big selling point to potential recruits.
9) Sid said one of Fleck’s duties will be selling tickets to Gopher football:
Fleck said he has a lot of duties as head coach, promoting Gopher football and getting the fans involved in football on game day is one of them. “We want the bank filled,” Fleck said.
10) The question of a spring game was raised:
Fleck emphatically said there will be a spring game, which is scheduled for April 15 around noon time. He said spring drills will be held before and after spring break and after the spring game. Apparently there will be at least one practice after the game “Spring ball is really important,” Fleck emphasized.
It was during this question that Fleck said there have been 20 off-season surgeries.
11) Sid asked about the quality of high school football in Minnesota:
(There are) a lot of great players in Minnesota,” Fleck answered. He also credited Tracy Claeys for holding on to the Minnesota players that committed to the Gophers.
12) Sid wanted to know if he can win here at Minnesota:
“We can win here,” Fleck said in an emphatic tone. He added he wants the players to be “uncommon . . . elite.”