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  1. #1

    Default Shama: P.J. Fleck Talks Long-Term Commitment at U

    per Shama:

    P.J. Fleck was one of the most coveted young head football coaches in the country in the fall of 2016 after leading upstart Western Michigan to a 13-0 regular season record, just three years after his Broncos were 1-11 in his first year.

    Fleck, then 36, looked like a candidate for the biggest stages in college football including Notre Dame. His nonstop can-do energy and attitude had caught the attention of college football observers throughout the country, including write-ups in the New York Times and Sports Illustrated.

    Fleck chose to leave Western Michigan for Minnesota in January of 2017. It was a decision process involving his wife Heather, he told Sports Headliners earlier this month. Regarding her husband’s next career stop, she emphasized it needed to be a long-term commitment.

    This is how Fleck recalled a conversation with his wife who together are raising young children: “She looked at me and says, ‘Listen, when we move there (the next job), we’re going to live there. We’re going to live there a long time…build a lot of roots.’

    “It had to be a community that was high in philanthropy,” Fleck said. “Had to be a community that was willing to serve and give. Had to be bigger than football. We feel the Twin City area and the state of Minnesota is that. … To be able to serve and give and make other people’s lives better. And that’s what Row the Boat is all about. It’s about serving and giving to other people. It’s about never giving up. It’s about providing opportunities for other people who can’t provide it for themselves.”

    Row the Boat, of course, is Fleck’s catchphrase for the philosophy he preaches inside and outside the U football program. It will be heard later this week at Big Ten media days in Chicago when Fleck will be asked if his team can continue the performance of the last four games in 2018. During that stretch Minnesota won three of four while dominating Purdue, Wisconsin and Georgia Tech.

    After going 5-7 and 7-6 in Fleck’s first two seasons, even better results will be expected this fall. A first-ever Big Ten West Division championship for Minnesota isn’t out of the question for a team that has almost all its key players returning. A big year will surely put Fleck’s name into the rumor mill for openings around the country.

    Such a development will concern Gophers fans. Nobody can predict the future but Fleck, a Midwest native, has always wanted to coach in the Big Ten. He also has a supportive athletic director in Mark Coyle, and a contract at Minnesota that runs through 2023. He has outstanding resources including the new Athletes Village with which to work, and the loyalty of talented young players he has brought to Minneapolis. He also has the memory of those commitment words spoken by his wife.

    http://shamasportsheadliners.com/

    Go Gophers!!


  2. #2

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    Nice read.

    But as for GH and this topic:


  3. #3

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    love hearing this! no doubt that pj and heather see minnesota as a long term spot and a great place to raise their kids.

  4. #4

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    He’d probably consider leaving for one of the bigger jobs, like Notre Dame or USC, but there’s no way they’d let him put that goofy looking oar on their helmets.


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  5. #5

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    If Gophs have the season a lot GHers are expecting, the U will back up the Brinks truck and redo Fleck's contract. If Gophs have a similar season to 2018, 7-6 or even 8-5, Fleck's name will not be in the mix for any jobs that would be worth making the move. His appeal to higher profile HC jobs is limited as has been discussed on other threads out here.

    He's not going anywhere soon.

  6. #6

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    I'll worry about him leaving after he gets another natty

  7. #7
    Join Date
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    There are two things at play here. first is the success on the field that is required to be a target for other Universities. He appears to be on a path to success here so it is reasonable to assume other universities will come calling. But that is just assumptions for now. He still needs to make a splash far more impactful than 8 or even 9 regular season wins.

    The second variable is how much he and his family feel fulfilled here in the Twin Cities. The article talks about "long term commitment" and the charitable opportunities, and talks about a young family needing roots to form. That all bodes well for staying here for a time period longer than the first wave of success.

    Of course anything could happen, I get that, but I do find it encouraging the Flecks have purchased not one but two houses here. He appears to love lake culture (had a big "cabin" on a lake in Michigan prior to taking the Gopher job, and it was featured prominently in the "being PJ Fleck" documentary). PJ seems to love boating, jet ski, etc. and he is in one of the best places in the country for that lifestyle, with a setup that allows him to do all that within an easy drive to Dinkytown.

    So, there is at least some evidence he has put his money where his mouth is in terms of what he has described as a long term stay in this job. All that can change when Notre Dame comes knocking so we'll see how he holds up when the expected success happens. Most people assume he will bolt at the earliest possible moment but that is the Minnesota sports fan way: to assume the worst. What would a Rose Bowl do to the purse strings and the fan base? There would be a LOT of local pressure to have the University step up and reward the guy that FINALLY brought the program back to its mighty glory days.

    Lots of guessing. Lots needs to happen first: starting with the hardest part: a Rose Bowl or the CFP. Then a huge opportunity would have to come knocking, then the U would have to have their say in a new contract, then we'd all finally find out if PJ really does envision staying here a long time.

  8. #8
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    Is it helpful to look at other programs that crawled out of mediocrity and whether their coaches decided to stay long-term? Most coaches end up getting the axe (not THE axe) but a select few buy themselves a long term ride and decide to stay put. I haven’t decided yet if PJ is a classic ladder climber and will jump ship at the first opportunity or whether he’s interested in building a true legacy and cult of personality at MN rather than living in the shadow of other greats at blue blood programs.

    Off the top of my head Fitz, Patterson, Dantonio, Ferentz seem to fit the mold of having opportunities to move up to a top rung program but elected to stay. There are probably others. Are there common traits that seem to correlate, eg alumni ties, home state, etc?

  9. #9
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    everybody is committed - until they aren't.

    Seriously, this is part of the coaching profession you just have to accept. Every new job is "the job of a lifetime." It's "the place I want to be for the rest of my career." And then, big-name school X comes calling with a big-time deal, and everything changes.

    Sure, there are coaches who stay at the same place for a long time, but I would say there are more coaches who job-hop their way up the ladder.

    As others have noted, if Fleck would leave for another job, that would probably mean that he has won at least a conference title or more at MN. Which would make MN a more attractive spot for the next coach.

    If Fleck does leave, the next coach will be inheriting a better situation. It's not like Fleck leaves, and the Gophers fall back to 3- and 4-win seasons.

    So, I see it as a win-win situation. Unless you think Fleck is the only coach in the world who is capable of winning at MN.

  10. #10

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    Ever since Lou Holtz Gopher fans have lived in constant fear of their coach being stolen away even though it almost never happens to us (across all sports). The assumption many make about Fleck is that he will jump ship at the first chance for bigger and better things....it is a fair assumption given that it does happen in coaching but it rarely happens with power 5 head coaches.

    If he has success here and the administration shows a willingness to pay a competitive salary (something they have started doing) there is every reason to believe that Fleck is someone who would commit for the long haul. His program is built around his brand and things like that take time to establish and really ingrain into the culture.

    If he has success and bolts he then has to start the whole process over. In order to get him to leave Minnesota it would almost have to be for a helmet school and those places are much less likely to let him build his brand or be patient while he gets things going.

    I have no clue how it will all play out but I can easily see Fleck going the Ferentz, Fitzgerald, Dantonio route and staying here for a long long time.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by short ornery norwegian View Post

    As others have noted, if Fleck would leave for another job, that would probably mean that he has won at least a conference title or more at MN.
    One of the few exceptions was former Iowa State head coach Gene Chizik, who parlayed a 3-9 record and a 2-10 record (including a winless Big 12 conference slate) into a head coaching job at Auburn where he quickly won a national championship after (wink, wink) not paying Cam Newton to come play for him.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by salzie View Post
    I'll worry about him leaving after he gets another natty
    I was hoping he'd stay until we won back to back to back. Its our tradition...
    "My life has become a single, ongoing revelation that I haven't been cynical enough." - Chrisjen Avasarala

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNVCGUY View Post
    Ever since Lou Holtz Gopher fans have lived in constant fear of their coach being stolen away even though it almost never happens to us (across all sports).
    Women's basketball is calling on line one. Something about disagreeing with your statement. Softball is holding on line two.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by MNVCGUY View Post
    Ever since Lou Holtz Gopher fans have lived in constant fear of their coach being stolen away even though it almost never happens to us (across all sports). The assumption many make about Fleck is that he will jump ship at the first chance for bigger and better things....it is a fair assumption given that it does happen in coaching but it rarely happens with power 5 head coaches.

    If he has success here and the administration shows a willingness to pay a competitive salary (something they have started doing) there is every reason to believe that Fleck is someone who would commit for the long haul. His program is built around his brand and things like that take time to establish and really ingrain into the culture.

    If he has success and bolts he then has to start the whole process over. In order to get him to leave Minnesota it would almost have to be for a helmet school and those places are much less likely to let him build his brand or be patient while he gets things going.

    I have no clue how it will all play out but I can easily see Fleck going the Ferentz, Fitzgerald, Dantonio route and staying here for a long long time.
    If the Gophers start winning, recruiting will improve to the point where the Gophers someday will win a title. It may be a challenge to keep him here.

    However, his family has a big pull on that decision. Should he decide truly that this is where they are going to set permanent roots, it will mean that the football program will have long term stability it has not seen in ages. The Gophers will have to consider improving the pay of the assistant coaches so that they too would want to be here long term. At least those who are not aspiring to be head coaches and want to stay put.
    Welcome to Badger Road Kill Country!

  15. #15

    Default Shama: P.J. Fleck Talks Long-Term Commitment at U

    Someone mentioned above that P5 head coaches don’t usually leave by choice for another P5 job. That’s a damn good point. I haven’t researched it, but I can’t think of many of those situations off the top of my head. There are only 65 (I think that’s the number?) P5 head coaching jobs, this is far from the worst one, and the dude is only in his 30s. He could be mediocre for another 6-8 years and probably keep his job. At a helmet school, he could easily get fired for one losing season or even for failing to win conference championships. He has it made here, and I honestly think he believes he will eventually win a national championship with this program and become a legend.


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