PJ Fleck claims there's 'nothing controversial' about overturn of Cooper DeJean's punt return
PJ Fleck and Minnesota escaped Kinnick Stadium with a win Saturday, giving the head coach his first-ever victory in the rivalry series. As a result, the Golden Gophers brought Floyd of Rosedale back to Minneapolis for the first time since 2014.
That game was a low-scoring 12-10 affair but featured some wild twists and turns in the closing minutes. Most notably, Iowa’s Cooper DeJean initially gave the Hawkeyes a late lead with a punt return touchdown before that play was overturned and blown dead by review.
While the Big Ten official involved explained the call and other analysts have said it was the right one, the decision was a hard one for Kirk Ferentz to stomach. Fleck has not had that kind of issue, and he said during his Monday press conference that there was nothing controversial behind the call.
“There’s nothing controversial about it. Nothing controversial. Offsides is offsides, a false start is a false start, a hold is a hold. (An) invalid fair catch signal is an invalid fair catch signal,” said Fleck. “Now, the way the rule states, is invalid fair catch so everyone thinks it’s above your shoulder and it has to look like a fair catch. That’s not part of the rule.”
The head coach went on to explain shooing or warning people to avoid the ball is a clear part of the rule. While DeJean did not feel he was motioning with his hand on the play, Fleck appears to feel differently.
“The other part of the rule that was implemented years ago is the Poison rule. When you Poison or Peter any call, you cannot advance that ball. You can point to a ball, that’s fine, but with one hand you can’t shoo away people at all. You can’t do that,” Fleck explained. “We got called for that weeks ago if you remember. We shooed people away from the ball, caught it, wanted to return it and it was blown dead.”
At the end of the day, Fleck believes the incident would have never happened if the officials simply blew the play dead correctly from the start.
“The only thing that should have happened — and I’m not a referee nor am I blaming anyone — it should have been just blown dead right there. Don’t even let that play happen because it doesn’t exist,” said Fleck. “The play doesn’t exist because it’s a Poison and a Peter call and it’s a dead ball.”
#Gophers coach PJ Fleck today says there’s “nothing controversial” about Cooper DeJean’s invalid fair catch signal.
“Nothing controversial about it. You Poison or Peter any call, you cannot advance that football. It should’ve just been blown dead right there. The play doesn’t… pic.twitter.com/FpKbcvhEuo
— Jeff Wald (@JeffWaldFox9) October 23, 2023