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PJ Fleck

PJ Fleck simply asks that you bring the energy.

Well, and that you row the boat.

The sharp-dressed man who can command a room with his prose has, in his first 6 seasons with the Gophers, already established himself as one of the program’s most successful coaches of all time. With his smashmouth brand of football and affinity for oars, Fleck has already moved to fifth in program history in victories (44) and sixth in Big Ten wins (26). His .619 win percentage is third-best among Minnesota coaches who lasted at least 45 games (11 total).

Fleck is also 1 of only 2 Gopher coaches to reach 9 wins in a single season 3 times. The Gophers went 9-4 in 2021 and 2022, and they posted 11 wins in 2019.

That 2019 campaign was Fleck’s official arrival on the national stage. He’d found success with Western Michigan prior to landing the Minnesota job, but in Minneapolis, he provided proof of concept. What he preached worked, regardless of the level. The Gophers opened the year 9-0 and climbed as high as No. 7 in the AP Poll — their highest ranking since 1962.

Win No. 9 came at TCF Bank Stadium against then-No. 5 Penn State, and it was the program’s first victory over an AP top-5 team since 1999.

Fleck was voted Big Ten Coach of the Year and was named a finalist for numerous National Coach of the Year awards. The Gophers finished with 11 wins, the most in a season since 1904. They finished with 7 Big Ten victories, the most in school history. They beat 2 top-10 teams in the same season for the first time since 1956. And they defeated No. 9 Auburn in the Outback Bowl for the program’s first New Year’s Day bowl victory since 1962.

In 2021, Fleck became the first Minnesota coach since Murray Warmath in the 1960s to win at least 6 conference games in a season more than once.

At Minnesota, Fleck has coached 5 All-Americans and had 12 players selected in the NFL Draft.

A Northern Illinois grad, Fleck cut his teeth as a grad assistant at Ohio State (2006) before joining the coaching staff at his alma mater. In 2007, he was hired by the Huskies as the team’s wideout coach. In 2009, he added the title of recruiting coordinator.

He moved to Rutgers in 2010, coaching the same position, and spent 2 years in Piscataway before jumping to the NFL.

After just 1 season coaching wideouts for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Fleck was offered the head coaching gig at Western Michigan. He took over the program in 2013 and, after a 1-11 record in Year 1, won at least 8 games in each of his last 3 seasons with the program.

The Broncos ended the 2016 regular season a perfect 13-0. They beat Ohio in the MAC Championship Game to claim the first conference championship for WMU since 1988. It also marked the first 10-win season in the school’s 111-year football history. For his efforts, Fleck was 1 of 5 finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award.



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