P.J. Fleck cares so much about his "Row the Boat" mantra that he paid $50,000 of his own money to secure the rights to the slogan from his former employer, Western Michigan University.
Fleck, now in his second year coaching the Gophers football team, has the never-give up mantra plastered throughout the U of M's new football facilities and he doesn't care if someone doesn't like it.
"To think back, it was one thought that stemmed from adversity that kind of took a while to develop," he said during his press conference leading up to Minnesota's season opener Thursday night against New Mexico State. "When I unveiled it people kind of made fun of it, and people still do. But at the end of the day that's always going to happen when you say here I am as a person and you share yourself with other people."
Fleck spent more than two minutes answering the Row the Boat question, and offering a reminder that the mantra is about more than just football.
"As a football coach you have a platform, and what you do with that platform is very powerful," he said. "Yes, wins and losses are going to be judged on me as a football coach, but me as a person and somebody who's a public figure, I wanna be looked at as somebody who can bring hope and motivation and inspiration to people who are dealing with things where maybe they have nowhere else to turn.
"Maybe they need something else, they need a jump start. And if they can look at our program, then we're doing our job. Then I'm doing my job as a head football coach."
You can watch Fleck's response about Row the Boat in the video below beginning at the 12:25 mark.
Fleck and members of the Gopher football team make it a priority to visit kids at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital, and in July the hospital unveiled a "Row the Boat Wall to help inspire and lift the spirits of kids, afterward spending a couple of hours hosting a BBQ with patients and staff.