The hottest name in coaching circles has been linked to Gophers football

If Tracy Claeys keeps his job with the Gophers there's nothing to talk about, but if he doesn't, this guy's name is all over the place.

The hottest name in the college football coaching circles right now is No. 15 Western Michigan's P.J. Fleck. He's 36 years old and just took Western Michigan (13-1) all the way to the Cotton Bowl where they narrowly lost to the eighth-ranked Wisconsin Badgers, 24-16 on Monday.

Fleck's name is already being linked to Minnesota with current head coach Tracy Claeys' future in doubt. Claeys will reportedly meet with Gophers athletics director Mark Coyle on Tuesday to discuss his future.

If Claeys is out, could Fleck be the next head coach at the University of Minnesota?

247Sports reported Monday that Coyle has not reached out to Fleck but sources say there is mutual interest.

“I love where I’m at, period,” Fleck said after losing to Wisconsin. “It’s as simple as that."

According to the Detroit News, Fleck and Western Michigan are close to a contract extension that could double his $800,000 salary. The Detroit News also says, however, that Fleck could be interested in taking over Power 5 school, which Minnesota is as a member of the Big Ten.

Claeys' 2016 salary was $1.4 million, good for 68th highest salary among college football coaches, according to USA Today.

More from the Detroit News:

"Minnesota is seen as a better job than Purdue, though, as it has made significant strides in facility upgrades. It's also squarely in the Midwest, where Fleck was born and raised and is most comfortable, particularly on the recruiting trail."

So who is P.J. Fleck?

He's a very spiritual and intense guy from the western Chicago suburbs, according to the Chicago Tribune. Western Michigan trademarked his "Row the Boat" mindset, which he says is a "never give up" mantra.

SportsCenter profiled Fleck earlier this season and took a closer look at his intense pregame speeches.

"I'm just P.J. Fleck," he told the Tribune in October. "Maybe at times that rubs people the wrong way, (but) when I got hired, (athletic director) Kathy Beauregard said: All I want you to do is be you. That was the greatest comment ever made to me. People think I'm a gimmicky guy. I'm just me, and if I'm different because of that, so be it.

"I want our players to know that it's OK to be yourself, OK to be real."

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