P.J. Fleck

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P.J. Fleck buys new $3 million home

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P.J. Fleck has found his new home as he settles in with his new coaching job at Minnesota. The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports Fleck has purchased a brand new $3 million home in Edina.

With a square footage of 5,949, six bedrooms and six bathrooms, it sure sounds as though Fleck did a fine job finding a new home. This newly-built home also comes with some technological features like Amazon’s Alexa built in. Settlement no the house was finalized on the same day Fleck and Western Michigan worked out a buyout of $600,000. So it was quite the busy day for Fleck.

Unfortunately, this new home is not located on a lake with a boat dock. This feels like a wasted opportunity because I was really hoping we would get a glimpse of Fleck rowing his boat up to the house in his down time.

CFT Previews: Cotton Bowl Classic

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WHO: No. 15 Western Michigan (13-0) vs. No. 8 Wisconsin (10-3)
WHAT: The 81st Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic
WHEN: 1:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
WHERE: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
THE SKINNY: MAC champion Western Michigan ran the table this season, ended the year as one of two FBS undefeated programs with Alabama being the other. That was still far from good enough to get a crack at the College Football Playoff, but P.J. Fleck has his upstart program rowing their boats to the Cotton Bowl to take on Wisconsin.

The Badgers hope quarterback Alex Hornibrook is healthy enough to stay in the game after getting roughed up against Penn State in the Big Ten championship game. Regardless of who plays quarterback, the real focus of the Wisconsin offense should fall on the running game with Corey Clement working behind a steady offensive line that should have an advantage on the line of scrimmage.

It should go without saying that Wisconsin will be, by far, the best defensive team Western Michigan has faced all season long, led by T.J. Watt. The Broncos may feel confident having two wins already this season against Big Ten opponents (Northwestern and Illinois), but the Badgers beat those two teams as well by a combined 59 points, as opposed to Western Michigan’s combined 25-point margin of victory over the Wildcats and Illini. Wisconsin’s defense did get exposed in the Big Ten championship game by Penn State’s big play offense though, and it should be expected Western Michigan will attempt to find those some cracks with Zach Terrell looking to find future NFL receiver Corey Davis for some big gains.

Western Michigan may be overmatched in the trenches, but the running game should be a key for the Broncos regardless. Jarvion Franklin rushed for 1,300 yards this season, but finding room to run against the Badgers defensive front will be his toughest challenge yet, especially if Wisconsin comes out looking to rebound from a poor showing in the Big Ten championship game.

Which brings us to the all-important yet completely unpredictable motivation factor. It would not be fair to take anything away from Western Michigan’s effort should things go well, but what exactly is the motivation level for Wisconsin? The Badgers were the favorite in the Big Ten championship game and lost steam to go from playing in the Rose Bowl (or potentially the College Football Playoff?) and now are paired up with this year’s Group of Five representative in the bowl lineup. Wisconsin does not seem like the kind of program that will go through the motions, and Paul Chryst may not strike you as a rah-rah go-get-em type of coach, but he will have the Badgers ready to go on the big stage in Arlington.

There is a bit of an experience factor at play as well, as a majority of this Wisconsin team has already played in AT&T Stadium. Wisconsin opened the 2015 season in this stadium against Alabama, so the initial wow-factor of playing in this venue may not be a concern. Western Michigan, however, is playing on this kind of stage for the first time in program history. Will that be an intangible?

THE PREDICTION: Wisconsin 35, Western Michigan 20

P.J. Fleck looked thrilled to receive his cowboy hat at the Cotton Bowl

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Western Michigan has arrived on the scene in Arlington, Texas as the MAC champion Broncos prepare to face Big Ten West Division champion Wisconsin in the upcoming Cotton Bowl. As is customary for teams visiting town for the Cotton Bowl, a traditional cowboy hat was presented to the head coach of the Broncos, P.J. Fleck.

So for no other reason to say here is a photo of P.J. Fleck in a cowboy hat, here is P.J. Fleck in a Cowboy hat.

I wouldn’t put it past Fleck to wear his new hat on the sideline as he looks to row the boat one more time this season. Who wouldn’t want to see a coach wear a cowboy hat on the sideline?

Mark Helfrich to meet with Oregon AD later this week

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Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich may be sitting on a burning seat with a golden Nike logo embroidered on it, but it sure looks as though he is safe from being the next on the chopping block for at least a couple more days. Helfrich will be the only Oregon representative at a end-of-the-year news conference today, with the intent of meeting with Oregon representatives later this week to discuss the future.

This does not necessarily mean Helfrich is guaranteed to be safe to return to Oregon as head coach in 2017, because a lack of public showing of support from Athletics Director Rob Mullens comes off a bit ominous, but Helfrich having a plan to meet with Mullens and others this week could simply be routine and business as usual or just a way of putting off a coaching change until Oregon has all of its ducks in a row.

Oregon is coming off a brutal loss against in-state rival Oregon State, putting a fitting end to a dismal season that saw the Ducks go just 4-8. Rumors have been swirling around for weeks that changes could be inevitable at Oregon, with Nike founder Phil Knight reportedly willing to write whatever check necessary to hire the best available coach (a report that has been scrutinized by those close to the Oregon program since making the rounds). Two years ago, Oregon was playing for the national championship with the Heisman Trophy winner (Marcus Mariota). Last year the Ducks suffered a mind-blowing loss in the Alamo Bowl against TCU. And then, this year happened.The program is trending in the wrong direction under Helfrich right now. The only question is whether or not Oregon will wait another year to see if he is capable of turning things around or the time to hire a new coach is now.

The program is trending in the wrong direction under Helfrich right now. The only question is whether or not Oregon will wait another year to see if he is capable of turning things around or the time to hire a new coach is now. Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck and UCF coach (and former Oregon assistant) Scott Frost have been mentioned in the rumor mill as potential possibilities for the Ducks should a change be imminent.

Saban, Harbaugh, Meyer among Maxwell Football Club coach of the year semifinalists

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Alabama head coach Nick Saban, Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer are among 16 remaining candidates for the George Munger Collegiate Coach of the Year Award presented by the Maxwell Football Club.

Saban is the only coach from the SEC listed as a semifinalist, and he has never won the award that was first presented in 1989 to Michigan’s Bo Schembechler. Gene Stallings is the only Alabama coach to win the award, doing so in 1992. Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen was the first SEC coach since 1998 (Tennessee’s Philip Fulmer) to win the award, in 2014.

Meyer and Mike Leach are the only semifinalists to previously win the award. Meyer won the award in 2004 at Utah and Leach took the award in 2008 with Texas Tech. Penn State’s James Franklin could become the third Penn State coach to win the award, joining Joe Paterno (1990, 2005) and Bill O’Brien (2012).

The remaining semifinalists for the award are Mike MacIntyre (Colorado), Bobby Petrino (Louisville), Neal Brown (Troy), Ken Niumatalolo (Navy), Scott Frost (UCF), Kyle Whittingham (Utah), Justin Fuente (Virginia Tech), Chris Petersen (Washington), Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), P.J. Fleck (Western Michigan) and Paul Chryst (Wisconsin).

Finalists for the award will be announced on December 12 and a winner will be named on December 29. The winner will be presented with the award on March 10, 2017 in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the annual Maxwell Football Club Awards Banquet.