#B1GCoachRank: No. 10 P.J. Fleck
Ranking coaches in the B1G can be a pretty easy task. It’s easy to place a number beside a guy, failing to give any reasoning behind his placement on a “power rankings,” list.
At Saturday Tradition, though, we don’t want to just give you the rankings. We want to provide you with a detailed description of each head coach and why he’s ranked in his selected spot.
This was a practice that was kicked up from the ground last year and, since there’s still several months until football season gets underway, it’s worth revisiting. So, let’s continue our 2017 #B1GCoachRank:
Coach: No. 10 P.J. Fleck (Minnesota)
Record: 30-22 (Western Michigan), 0-0 (Minnesota)
Record vs. top 25: 1-5 (Western Michigan), 0-0 (Minnesota)
Where team was when he was hired: Off the field issues that included an alleged sexual assault, a team boycott and several suspensions cost Tracy Claeys his job after one year, despite a 9-4 record in 2016. And the way the situation was handled left many current players and incoming recruits upset.
Despite the off the field troubles, Fleck did inherit a pretty good team. With Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks in the backfield, and a slew of up-and-coming defensive guys, there’s some real potential for Fleck to have some immediate success. To what extent is going to be the lingering question until the season kicks off.
Fleck was brought in to lead Minnesota to the next level. His success at Western Michigan was proof to athletic director Mark Coyle that the “Row the Boat” mentality could get the Gophers to a championship level in the B1G.
Biggest win: N/A
Most embarrassing loss: N/A
Best recruiting class: 2017
An unhealthy amount of coffee and energy drinks must’ve been flowing through Fleck’s body during his first month in Minnesota. At least it seemed that way.
Newly appointed to the position, Fleck had less than a month to try and salvage something out of Minnesota’s 2017 recruiting class. And he worked wonders during that brief stretch.
Fleck was able to flip six Western Michigan recruits to Minnesota in less than a week on the job. His first signing class – which was still largely pieced together by Claeys and the previous staff – consisted of 27 players, 25 of which had three-star ratings. While there weren’t many nationally recognizable names in the class, he flexed his muscle in a short period of time.
The Gophers finished with the No. 58 recruiting class and 12th in the B1G. But this was only the starting point.
What could get him fired: Fleck, and his custom-made ELITE Minnesota shoes, won’t be ousted anytime soon.
Why he’s at No. 10: It’s tempting to put Fleck higher on this list after rebuilding Western Michigan and finishing the year with a 13-1 record and a Cotton Bowl appearance last season. But having that kind of success in the MAC doesn’t always translate to the B1G, just ask Brady Hoke or Darrell Hazell.
Fleck’s Western Michigan teams did go 2-1 against the B1G West last year, beating Northwestern and Illinois in non-conference action and falling to Wisconsin in the Cotton Bowl. That’s a great accomplishment. But how will the young head coach fare when Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan into that mix. That’s going to be the real test for Fleck.
After such a big year with the Broncos, Fleck might be a popular choice to make it into the top half of our #B1GCoachRank. But he’s still an unproven guy, at least at the Power Five level. Let’s wait and see how his first year in Minneapolis goes before we move him up in our rankings.
No. 10 P.J. Fleck
No. 9 TBA