Fox Sports' Aaron Torres believes Minnesota just pulled off the coaching "heist" of the century in hiring 36-year-old P.J. Fleck.
"Fleck has the 'it' factor, the ability to go someplace and immediately get everyone to believe in him and buy into his vision," Torres writes, adding that Fleck took Western Michigan from 1-11 to 13-1 in 36 months while literally recruiting the best class in the MAC three years in a row.
Plenty of fans are worried Fleck might be a second version of ex-Gophers failed coach Tim Brewster. But Brewster's first job was Minnesota, whereas Fleck proved he could win before getting a high-profile gig.
Like Fleck, Brewster's first year as a head coach resulted in a 1-11 record. Fleck improved a program. Brewster, as The Daily Gopher points out, set the Gophers back. And nobody cried when Brewster left the San Diego Chargers (tight ends coach before coming to Minnesota) like fans are now in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
And unlike Brewster, the rest of the country knows who Fleck is.
Torres thinks Fleck will have Minnesota in regular contention for the Big Ten West title. The Ringer describes Fleck as the perfect millennial to relate to high school recruits.
"Success in college football relies on being able to appeal to 16- and 17-year-olds. And all things considered, Fleck is about as good at that as anybody in football. He’s gotten many good football players to play for a program with no history of success in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He might be 35, but he’s an honorary millennial."
“He’s an open book,” said WMU quarterback Zach Terrell, describing Fleck to the Detroit Free Press. “That helps us learn a lot and has really helped me grow as a person. That's why our relationship has continued to build. We are more like best friends than we are coach-player. That's very, very rare.”
Another Western Michigan player told MLive.com that Fleck makes practice exciting every day: "Not many programs can say they enjoy coming to practice, and it helps when you have a leader like Coach Fleck."
Anyway, now you can get back to worrying about what slogan Fleck will bring to Minnesota. He told Fox 9 that he'll be blending his "Row the Boat" mantra with the U's "Ski-U-Mah."
— Hobie Artigue (@HobieFOX9) January 6, 2017