11 quotes from P.J. Fleck's Minnesota introduction

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Friday January 06, 2017

As P.J. Fleck was introduced as Minnesota head coach on Friday, his press conference sounded like a lot of his other press conferences: Loud and energetic. I went back and looked at what I wrote from his first WMU presser back in 2012. The headline?

“P.J. Fleck jacked out of his mind at introduction.”

When he became WMU head coach, he was completely unknown. This young guy was yelling out catchphrases, and no one knew what he was talking about. Four years later, with three winning seasons and a 13-1 year, his unique enthusiasm has Minnesota fans excited.

Here were 11 quotes from Fleck’s Minnesota intro.

- He thanked WMU for everything and said Minnesota is a dream job.

“An elite athletic director in Kathy Beauregard took a shot on a 32-year-old punk that had never been a head coach before and had never even been a coordinator to lead her football team. She’s more than an athletic director to me. She’s a mother, she’s a friend, and she’s a mentor. I apologized to her before I left, but I had to go chase my dream as well. The University of Minnesota is my dream.”

- Fleck signed some of the highest-ranked classes in MAC history. That recruiting emphasis was made clear on Friday.

“A lot of you will ask me about recruiting. The No. 1 thing in this culture and this program is recruiting. Listen to my words: It is recruiting. And it’s going to take every single person in this room. Media, you have a job to do. You’re going to do it. I promise, I’ll give you a lot. I have a job to do, and I know that. Recruiting is the No. 1 pipeline and lifeline to any program. What does that mean? We are going to recruit our student-athletes every single day with the positivity and energy of the University of Minnesota to think the University of Minnesota is the greatest place on earth. That is what we’re going to do. We’re going to recruit the finest student-athletes in the country, and you know where we’re going to start? Our elite state of Minnesota.”

- Fleck had no answers about staff, but knows it has to happen soon with the dead period ending next week.

“I’m going to look at everything over the next few days. I’m going to move very quickly. There are going to be some members that come with, might be some that stay. I don’t know right now. I’ve got to evaluate that tonight and into tomorrow. I will move quickly, because this is similar as when I was hired at Western Michigan. There’s not a lot of time, especially before an important signing day. You have to get a lot of people in the boat, got to get a lot of people rowing and to see the vision and go. And for that, people that know the vision have to get here.”

- He’s a former Jerry Kill assistant. Even as Kill is upset at the school, Fleck talked about that influence.

“Coach Kill told me, ‘Tell them you’re a Kill guy.’ I’m part of the Kill tree. Coach Kill taught me how to care for players. When I knew how to care for players, he taught me how to care more.”

- His first year at WMU was a 1-11 season. He says the first year at Minnesota will be a dig.

“When you watch Gopher football from this point forward, it will be different. I am different. Year one is about a dig. I’m not here to change tradition. Ski-U-Mah is going to be all over the place. Row The Boat will be mixed. I am not here to change tradition. What I am here to do is change the culture, to change a movement, for us to create and experience things Minnesota football has only dreamed of and hasn’t accomplished since the 1960s.”

- I don’t really know how to explain this quote other than say it’s a Fleck quote.

“I eat difficult conversations for breakfast, and that is why I took this job. For every reason not to take a job, that’s why I took it. That’s the story of my life. I have a crack on my shoulder, not a chip.” We are going to find a way to out-care everyone else, out-give everybody else and out-how everybody else. That is my commitment.”

- Minnesota players have talked about transferring over the Title IX sexual assault investigation and Tracy Claeys’ dismissal. Fleck described his meeting with the team.

“The first thing I told them was, ‘Guys, you did not pick me, but I picked you. I promise you every single day, I’m the solution guy. I’m going to find a solution to make your life elite.’”

- Asked about the investigation, Fleck didn’t have much to say.

“I really don’t have anything to comment, because I don’t know much about it. I’m here today, so my era starts now and moving forward. It’s not about the past for me. It’s a concern of our players. They asked a question today about it, we talked about it, and we moved on. I told them the same thing. My focus is on them now, not them back when. That’s what I’m here.”

- Back in August, two WMU freshmen players were arrested for armed robbery and kicked off the team. It turned out one had faced four separate sexual assault allegations in his hometown. Fleck took the blame and said he should have been more thorough in the recruiting process.

“Not knowing that information, I couldn’t do anything different except be way, way more thorough. Going through that has made me a better football coach and a better head football coach. It made us all better recruiters, to not just take people we trust’s word for it. We’re going to take part of the process, but dig deeper legally. That’s how we grow higher. Failing, like I did as a head football coach at that time, failing, we defined as growth. Failure is quit. Part of becoming a man is taking accountability for your actions. I’m the boss. I’m the leader. The leadership part is what we took forward in how we’re going to change it.”

- Fleck said Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle asked about that during the interview.

“A lot of people might turn the other way. That showed me how committed to becoming elite he truly was. It showed me how much he cares about the University of Minnesota and our student-athletes, that we’re not going to allow someone to come in here and allow it to happen again. There’s a zero-tolerance policy. Once we found out about it, they were suspended indefinitely. Six hours later, they were kicked off the team. My job is to move very quickly very thoroughly, and that’s what I’ll do. I’m a dad, husband, father. That’s a very sensitive topic, and a zero-tolerance policy.”

- WMU owns the “Row The Boat” trademark, but Fleck said they will work it out and he’ll bring it to Minnesota.

“I plan on bringing it. It’s something we have to handle as we continue to move forward. It’s a major staple in my personal life, has a personal meaning. But it can bring a lot of people together.”

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.