While much of the attention on the Thursday night slate was focused on Ohio State’s second half resurgence at Indiana or Mason Rudolph‘s dazzling aerial display against Tulsa, you may have somehow missed the coaching debut of on P.J. Fleck at his new job last night.Fleck and Minnesota may not have played a perfect game, but it was good enough to go 1-0 to start the season after Minnesota got by Buffalo.
Fleck and Minnesota may not have played a perfect game, but it was good enough to go 1-0 to start the season after Minnesota got by Buffalo.
After the game, Fleck was awarded the game ball in honor of his first win with the school. As noted by USA Today, Fleck became the first Minnesota head coach to win his coaching debut with the program since John Gutekunst led the Gophers to a 31-7 victory over Bowling Green in 1986 (they then lost 63-0 the following week against No. 1 Oklahoma, and 24-20 the next week against Pacific). So it’s been a long time coming for a Minnesota coach to get off to his new job with a 1-0 start. And for that, the milestone was deserving of the game ball, handed to Fleck by Minnesota athletic director Mark Coyle.
“I was very honored,” Fleck said afterward. “But that game ball was not for me. That game ball was for our players. That game ball was for our boosters. That game ball was for our fans, our student section, 10,000 strong are chanting ‘row the boat.’ … That’s for everybody who believed in what we’re doing, not that it’s guaranteed to happen right now or this year. But that’s for that vision, and I just appreciated it and accepted it on behalf of everybody.”
Fleck’s next goal will to become the first Minnesota head coach to start his tenure with the Gophers with a 2-0 record since Murray Warmath started the 1954 season with four consecutive wins. Next up for Minnesota will be a road trip to Oregon State next Saturday.