PJ Fleck is only in his third season leading the Golden Gophers and has already done things that the program hasn’t done in over 100 years. PJ Fleck has changed the program and it’s time to start planning for his Statue in Minneapolis. I will layout all that Fleck has done already and why the success will continue within Fleck’s coaching tenure in Minnesota. Minnesota hired PJ Fleck after he was at Western Michigan where he had 4 straight years of the highest-ranked recruiting class in the MAC. Fleck first season at WMU they went 1-11 but since then they made 3 consecutive bowl games (winning first one in school history) and his last season made the Cotton Bowl (highest ranked “Group of 5” team) which was the biggest game in school history losing 24-16 to Wisconsin. Fleck’s third and final season at WMU finish the regular season undefeated and was ranked for the first time in school history up to 12 at on point. Then he was hired at the University of Minnesota to take over for the Golden Gophers after a 9 win season that saw the players boycott with 10 players being suspended for allegations toward sexual assault. It was a tough time for the Minnesota athletic department and AD Mark Coyle to understand they needed a change as the Head Coach for the Gophers.
Fleck’s first year was a struggle like at WMU the Gophers went 5-7 (2-7 in conference) missing a bowl game and many looked at that as a step back from the 9-win team. Fleck had a plan to change the culture and make the program the way he wanted it to be. With that many current players transferred and in Fleck’s second season he had the youngest team in FBS. After a bad 55-31 loss to Illinois, many people believed Fleck was on the “Hot” seat and that the Golden Gophers made a big mistake hiring Fleck. To finish up the season the Gophers went 3-1 and beat the Wisconsin Badgers for the first time since 2003 and earned themselves a bowl game. In the Bowl game, the Gophers made a statement win beating Georgia Tech 34-10 and Fleck young team return for the 2019 season. In Fleck’s third season the Gophers started 9-0 for the first time since 1904 and during that span, they beat #4 ranked Penn State which was the Gopher’s first home win against a top-5 time since 1977. Gophers lost a tough game in Iowa where everyone has a hard time playing and after having ESPN College Gameday at the school for the first time (Fleck did the same at WMU) Gophers lost to the Badgers. Fleck won the coaches Big Ten Coach of the Year award (media selected Ohio State Ryan Day the defending Big Ten champs) and the Gophers 10 wins regular-season which is their first double-digit wins since 1904. In the Outback Bowl where the Gophers played Auburn and everyone believes Auburn would win. The Gophers won 31-24 and dominated Auburn offense and ran all over their defense giving them 11 wins most since 1904. Not only did Fleck led the Gophers to their best season in over 100 years he been bringing in the best-recruiting classes in recent years and as well as having Gophers football fans believing for the future. Fleck has the culture he wants here in Minnesota and with his 7-year extension for $33.25 million he’s not going anywhere soon. Fleck is taking over this Big 10 programs and is ready to compete with the Wisconsin, Penn State, and Ohio State in the conference. What Fleck done in his little time in the program has been remarkable and the Gophers will have success like they never have had before. When Fleck time is up with the Gophers a statue will be up in his honor for changing the program and should never be forgotten in Gopher football history.
“ROW THE BOAT! SKI U MAH! GO GOPHERS!”