P.J. Fleck is rowing the boat from Western Michigan to Minnesota, per multiple reports. The Gophers fired head coach Tracy Claeys after a 9-4 season after he expressed support for a potential player boycott.
Unconfirmed local reports pegged the eventual deal at six-years $21 million, which would be more than four times what Fleck earned at Western Michigan.
There was speculation that Minnesota’s treatment of Claeys could cost them a chance at Fleck. Former coach Jerry Kill was upset at how Minnesota handled the situation. Kill was Fleck’s former boss at Northern Illinois.
Fleck was the most exciting of the potential options. Minnesota needs a big personality to smooth over a volatile situation. Fleck will bring offense. He’s also an excellent recruiter in B1G country, which should suit the Minnesota job well.
Minnesota isn’t Ohio State or Michigan. But, it’s a solid Big Ten program and a significant step forward. It works out geographically for Fleck’s family situation. He inherits a solid foundation. The hill is far less steep in the Big Ten West.
If there are reasons for caution with this hire, Fleck is still a very young coach. He will be 36 entering next season. Moving from the MAC to the B1G is a significant leap forward in competition.