P.J. Fleck Gets It, Whether You Like Him or Not


Minnesota Golden Gophers Head Coach P.J. Fleck, whether you like him or not, “gets it.” While he is indeed a polarizing figure, for reasons that you most likely already realize because you clicked over here in the first place, he really does seem like an overall solid dude.

You may not like some of methods and antics, or his demeanor, but overall he comes off as a stand-up dude who gets the big picture, and excels at his job. On the heels of a 41-14 blowout victory at Northwestern, he now has his Gophers bowl eligible, and sitting first in the Big Ten West (6-2, 4-1) as we head into the November home stretch.

They are in the driver’s seat right now, and controlling their own destiny (pardon the shopworn cliches) for reaching the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. They have a dominant but unsung offensive line, which leads a productive, balanced and formidable running attack.

They out-gained Northwestern 442-241 today, with a 308-143 advantage in rushing yards. It could end up being a semi-special season in Minneapolis this year, and it could be especially sweet for Gophers fans, considering what we’ve been through to get here.

After a pandemic shortened quasi-season, or pseudo-season, the fans are back in 2021, and P.J. Fleck gets the overall gist. He articulated the big picture at Big Ten Media Day, with a very colorful comparison that he said his wife thought of.

“My wife said it best, it’s like Mother Nature put us in a corner, told us to take a time out. not only that, but took away all your toys,” he said during his podium session.

“Did you ever take your toys away from your kids? That’s great, but they still got their ipad in the room, the tv. Now take all of that away, take away all the distractions, sit there think about what we’ve done- what we take for granted and I’ll let you out of the corner when you’re ready to come out. and I’m giving you no distractions.”

The very clever analogy continued:

“We all had to get better. We should all be kinder, have a better perspective and we should all appreciate. We should all have a different perspective then we did two years ago, and if you don’t, something is wrong with you.

“So that’s how we all treat each other in our program. We have tremendous young men who are going to do tremendous things in changing this world and the landscape of this society, and college football.”

Minnesota fans have now gotten their toys back. 2019 saw the program win 11 games, for just the second time in their history, and the first time since the 13-0 campaign of 1904. However, that season didn’t include a Big Ten title game appearance, while this one, still might.

Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Bank (TheSportsBank.Net) and author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” as well as “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”

He has regularly appeared in WGNSports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune, and co-hosts the After Extra Time podcastFollow him on Twitter and Instagram

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