Minnesota hires P.J. Fleck as its new head football coach

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck is the Minnesota’s new head coach after the two sides finalized a deal Friday. Minnesota confirmed the hire with this tweet:

The 36-year-old Fleck, a former NFL wide receiver from Northern Illinois, led the Broncos to the Cotton Bowl and a 13-1 season. He replaces Tracy Claeys, who was fired earlier this week amid an ongoing sexual assault investigation involving several of the Golden Gophers players and a near-boycott of the Holiday Bowl by the team. Minnesota finished the season at 9-4 with a Holiday Bowl win over Washington State, despite 10 players being suspended for that bowl game.

Western Michigan went on quite a rise under Fleck, a Greg Schiano protege. The Broncos went 1-11 in his debut season in 2013 but then jumped to back-to-back eight-win seasons before winning the MAC and cracking the Top 15 in 2016.

Fleck’s “Row the Boat” mantra became well known throughout college football, as did his high-energy style.

Fleck had been the Gophers’ top target for the vacancy all along, multiple sources told FOX Sports.

Western Michigan athletic director Kathy Beauregard confirmed Fleck’s departure on Friday morning:

While Minnesota has filled its coaching void, the search is on for Fleck’s replacement at Western Michigan.