What to make of reports, rumors on Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck
Will he stay or will he go?
That is the question Western Michigan fans have been asking regarding the future of football head coach P.J. Fleck, and it’s a question that has been asked well in advance of the Broncos’ Cotton Bowl loss to Wisconsin on Jan. 2.
The ‘Fleck watch’ truly began to heat up after Minnesota fired Tracy Claeys on Jan. 3. The move came following a standoff between Gophers’ players and the administration after 10 players were suspended in connection with allegations of sexual assault. Claeys, who voiced support for his players, went 9-4 this season with a victory over Washington State in the Holiday Bowl.
On Jan. 4, Joe Schmit, the Sports Director at KSTP-TV in Saint Paul, Minn., tweeted, “I can confirm that #Gophers AD Mark Coyle and Pres Eric Kaler did meet with PJ Fleck today in Chicago. Nothing official yet….”
On Thursday, radio host Bill Simonson of the Michigan-based ‘Huge Show’ tweeted, “Sources tell me Minnesota is close to a deal with Fleck.”
That drew a quick response from other members of the media who said otherwise. Among them were Brendan Buffa, the Editor in Chief of the Western Herald, Western Michigan’s student-run newspaper. He tweeted, “I have reason to believe Huge is wrong in his speculation of Fleck signing to Minn. Sources are telling me Fleck is staying put…”
Western Michigan Athletic Director Kathy Beauregard could not be reached for comment on Thursday, as she was out of the office with an illness.
Fleck just finished his fourth season in Kalamazoo with a program-record 13 wins and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. Before this season, Western Michigan had never been so much as ranked in the Top 25, and it ended the year No. 15 in the final College Football Playoff poll. The Broncos also won the Mid-American Conference championship for the first time since 1988.
All of this makes it understandable why Minnesota would inquire about the services of the energetic 36-year-old head coach. And Fleck would be crazy not to listen to what Minnesota officials have to offer, which is not limited to better salary, better facilities, a larger fan base and a more prestigious conference.
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However, the next Minnesota head coach will inherit a talented team but a messy situation. Former Gophers head coach Jerry Kill, a person who Fleck coached under at Northern Illinois and who he had previously stated was a mentor, told ESPN 1500 that he would never step foot inside TCF Bank Stadium or the Minnesota football facility ever again. Claeys replaced…