Western Michigan Broncos

EVANSTON, IL- SEPTEMBER 03: P.J. Fleck head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos reacts after his teams win against the Northwestern Wildcats on September 3, 2016 at Ryan Field in Evanston, Illinois. the Western Michigan Broncos won 22-21. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
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WMU gets $50k for scholarships, P.J. Fleck gets ‘Row the Boat’ mantra


The boat rowing for P.J. Fleck will officially and fittingly continue in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

When Fleck moved from Western Michigan to Minnesota earlier this year, it was uncertain if his “Row the Boat” mantra, which had been trademarked by WMU, would follow the head coach.  As the two sides negotiated an agreement, all signs were pointing to the slogan, which Fleck adopted after his infant son died of a heart condition, shifting from Kalamazoo to Minneapolis.

Wednesday, the shifting has been made official as WMU announced in a press release that “‘Row the Boat,’ the three-word mantra that became the catch phrase for Western Michigan University football success, will become the legal intellectual property of… P.J. Fleck.” The agreement allows Fleck to “legally assume ownership of the phrase and be able to use or transfer it at will.” The university will be permitted to use the slogan, but only for “recognizing and celebrating Fleck’s tenure at WMU and the teams he coached.”

In return for the rights to the mantra, Fleck will make an annual payment of $10,000 over the next five years, with the $50,000 being used to support a scholarship for a WMU football player.

The trademark will technically be transferred to the Harlan Sports, the company of Fleck’s agent Bryan Harlan.  It’s expected the trademarked phrase will be used by Fleck’s new employer, with the head coach’s permission.

Indiana reportedly rounds out coaching staff with Houston assistant, former Michigan QB Nick Sheridan

MADISON, WI - NOVEMBER 10: Head coach Lloyd Carr of the Michigan Wolverines yells at referees as Nick Sheridan #8 signals in a play to the quarterback against the Wisconsin Badgers on November 10, 2007 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin. Wisconsin defeated Michigan 37-21. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Not long ago, Nick Sheridan was throwing passes in the Big Ten as a Michigan quarterback. Now it appears he’s back in the conference coaching players to throw passes to beat the Wolverines.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana is set to hire Sheridan as the team’s new quarterbacks coach, replacing Shawn Watson after he departed to become Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator on Thursday. The move comes just weeks after Sheridan was hired to coach tailbacks at Central Michigan last month but reunites him with mentor Mike DeBord, who coached Sheridan in Ann Arbor and recently took over as the Hoosiers’ offensive coordinator.

The pair also spent time at Tennessee, where DeBord was the play caller for the Vols and Sheridan had served as a graduate assistant in one of several coaching stops after concluding his career at Michigan in 2009.

And for those wondering, Jim Harbaugh and Michigan head to Bloomington on October 14 this season.

Head coach Tom Allen  also completed the coaching staff for the 2017 season by adding Houston offensive line coach Darren Hiller for the same position in a move first reported by Fox Sports on Friday.

Independents and Group of Five National Signing Day Recap: Irish bounce back, Memphis tops AAC

SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Brian Kelly of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish is seen during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium on October 15, 2016 in South Bend, Indiana. Stanford defeated Notre Dame 17-10. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
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Outside of the Power Five conferences, recruiting went about as expected in 2017.

Notre Dame continued to pound the national trail and landed a top 12 class full of players who will be expected to play early. BYU managed another impressive group that was one of the most diverse out there. The schools with a talent-rich backyard to draw on did well in the AAC.  Boise State was once again tops in the Mountain West and did better than a few peers in the region. And yes, Lane Kiffin earned that recruiting reputation by pulling in the best class of Conference USA.

Though there wasn’t much drama outside the top schools, there nevertheless was plenty of action for many programs on National Signing Day.

Top recruits (all rankings via 247Sports Composite): No. 67 overall Brock Wright (TE, Notre Dame), No. 154 overall Chaz Ah You (DB, BYU), Aisa Kelemete (DE, Boise State), Nick Robinson (TE, Memphis), Nicholas Sims (RB, Toledo)

Top classes: Notre Dame (No. 11 overall), Memphis (No. 58 overall), Boise State (No. 60 overall), BYU (No. 65 overall), Florida Atlantic (No. 71 overall), Toledo (No. 74 overall), Texas State (No. 87 overall)

Biggest storyline: Irish still land solid recruiting class

Despite the worst season in South Bend since Charlie Weis and a nearly brand new coaching staff, Notre Dame still managed to cobble together a top 12 class on Signing Day. Tight end Brock Wright was the highest rated player and should see early playing time but the number of quality offensive linemen was really evident in the group Brian Kelly signed. Will it be enough to help with a big turnaround? We’ll see.

Biggest surprise: Memphis runs away with things in the AAC but new coaches still fared well

Given all the turnover in the American this year, it should probably come as no surprise that the Tigers pulled the top recruiting class in the conference. That’s a testament to what Mike Norvell is building with the program and the fact that they don’t have to go far for players. Many of the same factors played a role in Scott Frost landing the second-best class at UCF. It was also pretty impressive what Luke Fickell did on the recruiting trail at Cincinnati and Charlie Strong did at USF given those two didn’t have a ton of time to get things lined up.

Don’t sleep on: Boise State, Colorado State

The Broncos were once again the class of the Mountain West on the recruiting trail and fended off several Pac-12 schools for prospects. That will put them firmly in the mix to win the league again in 2017 but don’t overlook another good job by Mike Bobo and staff at Colorado State in landing 17 three-star players.

We’ll see about: Everybody else

WMU announces Tim Lester’s first coaching staff

ARLINGTON, TX - JANUARY 02: The Western Michigan Broncos cheerleaders and mascot take the field during the 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic between Western Michigan and Wisconsin at AT&T Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
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Less than two weeks after taking over the oars from P.J. Fleck, Tim Lester has completed his first Western Michigan coaching staff.

While some of the hires had previously been reported, WMU confirmed Wednesday the names of all nine members of Lester’s initial staff.  Kevin Johns, the offensive coordinator at Indiana the past three seasons, will assume the same position at WMU.  The 41-year-old coordinator will also handle the Broncos’ quarterbacks.  Tim Daoust, who had a previous stop at WMU (2006-09), returns to Kalamazoo as defensive coordinator after a stint in the same job at Ball State.

Below are Lester’s seven position coaches:

Co-Offensive Coordinator/Offensive Line Coach – Jake Moreland
Running Backs Coach – Eric Evans
Wide Receivers Coach – Ashton Aikens
Tight Ends/Tackles Coach/Recruiting Coordinator – Bill Kenney

Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach – Lou Esposito
Linebackers/Special Teams Coordinator – David Duggan
Defensive Backs – Cory Sanders

Moreland played with Lester at WMU and still ranks second all-time amongst Broncos tight ends with 1,414 career receiving yards.  He also coached tight ends at his alma mater from 2004-12. This will also serve as Esposito’s second tour of duty with the Broncos as he spent three seasons as the line coach from 2010-12.

Kenney and Duggan are the lone holdovers from Fleck’s staff.

Western Michigan to transfer ‘Row the Boat’ trademark to P.J. Fleck, per report

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Head coach P.J. Fleck looks on from the sideline during the first half while playing the Ohio Bobcats during the MAC Championship on December 2, 2016 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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“Row the Boat” will soon row its way from Kalamazoo to Minneapolis.

According to a report from Madison Bennett of MLive, Western Michigan will soon transfer the “Row the Boat” trademark over to its former head coach P.J. Fleck.

“It’s just a matter of negotiating the terms of the release of that intellectual property,” WMU trustee William Johnston told MLive.

Fleck introduced the phrase at his introductory press conference in December of 2012 and turned it into a program mantra. The phrase joined national consciousness this season as Fleck guided the Broncos to an undefeated regular season, a MAC championship and an appearance in the Cotton Bowl. That success led him to take the head job at Minnesota earlier this month.

Fleck has stated the phrase has personal meaning to him, first spawning after he and his first wife Tracie lost infant son Colt to a heart condition.

“It comes from a very personal, personal tragedy in my life and that’s where ‘Row the Boat’ came from,” Fleck told ESPN earlier this month. “So, I really hope they do see that, and [that] they are willing to allow me to take that, but we’ll see as we move forward. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it, but I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people’s lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area.”