P.J. Fleck Takes “100 Percent” Ownership of Blowout at #23 Northwestern


What Minnesota Golden Gophers Coach P.J. Fleck said today after his team got blown out by Northwestern was refreshing. Fleck took total ownership of the 39-0 rout, which saw his team lose the yardage battle 363-182 and end up -5 in the turnover margin.

“It’s not pretty whatsoever, and there’s no excuses for it, and it’s 100% on my shoulders,” Fleck said in Evanston.

“I take 100% blame and there’s no excuses, we got to get better.”  

p.j. fleck

It was a really important statement for P.J. Fleck to make, given how this season has seen him putting forth a “this is year zero” narrative. The “year zero” narrative perfectly defines the corporate cliche of “moving the goal posts,” i.e. not admitting failure but instead changing the standards for success.

It’s a trend that is spreading throughout the B1G West and college football, and it’s something that is simply beneath P.J. Fleck.

No matter what you think of his antics or his style or his delivery, which certainly polarizes people, he really seems to be a genuine good guy on the inside.

Fleck is an individual with good core values and these days, people like this are decreasing in numbers. Accountability and responsibility are important values that are in short supply right now, and that’s why Fleck’s showcasing the fact that he is an individual with these traits was the biggest takeaway.

pj fleck

“They took advantage of everything we gave them, every single thing,” Fleck said of his team committing five turnovers and dropping six passes.

“They are one of the best teams in the country at scoring after turnovers, they have done that all year, and we gave it to them. This team is very good, they do not beat themselves, we said it all week, they do not beat themselves.” 

“That’s no disrespect to them, they won the game but we gave them everything to beat us.”

Fleck inherited a program from Tracy Claeys that went to a bowl game both years that he was in charge, and Claeys was handed the keys over from Jerry Kill, who took the Gophers bowling all three seasons that he was in charge.

The Sugar Grove, Illinois native, coaching in his home state for the first time as a B1G Head Coach also inherited a 9-4 Holiday Bowl winning team from last season. The result has been tremendously disappointing as he’s guided the Gophers to a 5-6 record (2-6 in league play.

Next week they’ll finish the season with their arch-rival, #5 Wisconsin.

That’s pretty much the absolute last team you want to be facing in order to grab that sixth win and a bowl bid, because the Badgers need to stay undefeated, and win with big style points, in order to reach the College Football Playoff. They are pretty much the only hope that the league has of getting a team in the CFP.

Thus it really doesn’t look like P.J. Fleck will take his team bowling this season, and that is a huge letdown. It’s not really acceptable in the Twin Cities these days, but there is hope. If you look at how Fleck took over and rebuilt the Western Michigan program, it was brutally ugly in the beginning.

Fleck cleaned house early on, and the Broncos got worse before they got better. Maybe the same will happen here in Minneapolis.

Audio of the P.J. Fleck presser is below:

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

Follow him on TwitterInstagramSound Cloud, LinkedIn and YouTube.

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