By Anthony Caruso III | Publisher
The Minnesota Golden Gophers have hired Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck to be their next head coach on Friday. He was their top target after the school fired Tracy Claeys on Tuesday night.
Fleck has agreed to a five-year deal. He comes to Minnesota after spending four-years as the Broncos head coach, where he had a 30-22 record, including a 21-11 record in the Mid-American Conference.
“P.J. is a proven winner and a strong leader,” Golden Gophers head coach Mark Coyle said. “He’s built a unique, positive culture that gets the best out of his students on the field and in the classroom. His infectious energy and passion make him a terrific coach and dynamic recruiter. I am excited he will be leading the Gophers for years to come.”
Fleck won the Mid-American Conference (MAC) Championship over the Ohio Bobcats in Dec. When they defeated the Bobcats, it was the first-time they won the MAC Championship since 1988.
Then, they lost in the Cotton Bowl Classic in a narrow loss to the Wisconsin Badgers 24-16 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas on Monday..
The 36-year-old is one of the youngest coaches in the FBS. He was the MAC Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016.
On Thurs., the Golden Gophers administration interviewed former Louisiana State University (LSU) Tigers head coach Les Miles.
Fleck was mentioned for numerous other head coaching positions. However, he said he would only leave Western Michigan for the right position — and apparently, Minnesota is that job. He also said that he would even return for a fifth-year if he did not like another job.
“It’s an honor to coach at Minnesota and be part of the Big Ten Conference,” Fleck said. “I want to thank president Eric Kaler, athletic director Mark Coyle, and the Board of Regents for this opportunity. I also want to thank Western Michigan, my players and the great fans and city of Kalamazoo for a wonderful four years.
“I look forward to meeting my new players and getting to know them as quickly as possible. I am excited to put together a staff and turn my efforts to recruiting, but also want Gopher fans to know that my wife, Heather, and I and our four children will be visible in the community and we are eager to connect with them. I am ready to go Ski-U-Mah!”
Prior to coming to Western Michigan, he spent a season as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers coach in 2012. He was the Rutgers Scarlet Knights wide receivers coach in 2010 and 2011.
He was the Northern Illinois Huskies recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach in 2009. He was also their wide receivers coach in 2007 and 2008.
Fleck began his coaching career as a graduate assistant with the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2006.
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