P.J. Fleck: 'Comparisons will steal your joy'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Tuesday June 13, 2017


P.J. Fleck has heard the comparisons to another outspoken Minnesota coach, but he says to forget about it.

In 2007, Tim Brewster took over the Gophers with an enthusiastic personality and went 1-11. He reached two bowl games, but was dismissed after a 1-6 start in 2010.

Now Fleck has taken over with his own outgoing personality, though with a track record as a head coach. Fleck joined KFAN recently and was asked about those comparisons.

“The one thing people ask me, what’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome in your first five, six months? It’s really the thought process,” Fleck said. ”The way we think, the way we act, the way we talk about Gopher football. At times, ‘Oh, we’ll screw it up at the end,’ or ‘We haven’t, couldn’t, shouldn’t, never have in the last half-century.’ Sooner or later, those things have to change. Comparison will steal your joy.

“Think of anything. You compare your boat to your neighbor’s boat, you’re always going to want a bigger boat. You’re always going to want something you don’t have. If we compare ourselves to the past, I tell our fans, just let everything go. There’s a new era, a new culture, new ideas, new offense, new defense, special teams, and why can’t we? We have to turn those woulda, coulda, shoulda into ‘We can, we will.’ It’s just a matter of time. That’s one of the biggest challenges.”

The Gophers are coming off a 9-4 season, their second-most wins in a season since 1905. But that season also ended with a Title IX investigation and Tracy Claeys’ dismissal.

Every Big Ten team has made a Rose Bowl since the mid-90s, except for Indiana and Minnesota (not including recent expansion). The Gophers last played in one in 1962. Gopher fans have heard big talk before, but Fleck hopes his nonstop positivity will overtake fan negativity. And he says that's where it starts.

“Just as much as I’m held responsible for recruiting, I want you to have a responsibility, too,” Fleck said. “If these recruits we want to stay and keep them in Minnesota… if they hear negativity from the fans about Gopher football, why would they want to stay in-state? They want to play for that passionate, positive fan base that always has their back and wants to win national championships.

“Comparisons steal your joy, and I’m not here to be like anybody else. I’m here to be myself, our staff do it our way and hopefully we can bring the most out of our players.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with CoachingSearch.com and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News, MLive.com, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to chris@coachingsearch.com.