P.J. Fleck Looks to Build Gophers Culture Around Chicago Type of Players


Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck certainly stepped up his Big Ten Media Day game from year one to year two. Although it is worth noting that Big Ten Media Days isn’t really the kind of event where you “win the press conference,” as the format and ritual grows increasingly stale and archaic each year.

Started in 1971, Big Ten Media Days is badly in need of a reboot and a revamp. As it stands, P.J. Fleck is the most entertaining personality that you’ll find at the event. Armed with an oar tie pin (expressing his desire to “restoar” with an “oar”), spouting references to Maverick and Goose from “Top Gun,” and abandoning the “year zero” nonsense from last year, Fleck took his always stellar media skills up a notch on Thursday.

Fleck is a Chicagoland area guy, and he started his coaching career at his alma mater, Northern Illinois. Having been born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and having played his college football in this part of the state, he knows what recruiting this area means to his program.

Being back in Chicago for the league’s season kickoff event, he was asked how much he’s going to prioritize the talent that’s in this specific area.

The back and forth on this topic begins around the 515 mark in the video below:

“Being from the state of Illinois, being from really right here — my parents are from Berwyn and Cicero and now my family lives in Sugar Grove, Illinois,” Fleck answered.

“That’s where I was raised — this is a huge, huge recruiting state for us, recruiting city for us. Brian Callahan, Kenni Burns recruit the area for us, they’re both from the area, and they do a great job of it. I know what type of players you get out of the state of Illinois, the type of players you get out of the city of Chicago, and that’s what we want to build our culture around.”

“We’ve had a lot of success here, plan on having a lot of success here in the future, but it’s always nice to come back to the state that you’re from, the city that you’re from, and have some recruiting success.”

The current Minnesota roster boasts of players who hail from Mokena, Kankakee, Flossmoor, South Holland, Bolingbrook and Rockford, IL.

pj fleck

Additionally, the jewel of the latest recruiting class, defensive back Tyler Nubin, hails from Saint Charles, IL.

The four star prospect, who is ranked the 8th best player in the state and the 33rd best cornerback nationally, is expected to compete for a starting position immediately.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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