Mark Coyle Leaves No Doubt: PJ Fleck is Not on Hot Seat
The Minnesota Gophers were blown out by the #2-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday, which wasn’t a surprise. Results this season vs Michigan and OSU were never going to be what the Gophers’ 2023 season was judged by. L’s like the one today are free passes for Big Ten West coaches like PJ Fleck.
Minnesota Gophers season went awry weeks ago
The same cannot be said for some of the other more disappointing losses, however. Like blowing a 21-point lead vs Northwestern and giving up a last second 50 yard touchdown pass to Illinois’ 3rd-string QB…? Take your pick.
WHIPLASH. #Gophers— Andy Greder (@andygreder) November 5, 2023
Screenshot: Polarizing swings on ESPN’s win probability in Illinois’ 27-26 win. From when Minnesota took 26-21 lead with 6 minutes left to putting Illini in 4th and 11 from own 15 and long, game-winning touchdown pass 2 plays later and 50 seconds left in game. pic.twitter.com/tEMF154CO6
Those are the failures that now have Minnesota in jeopardy of missing bowl eligibility for the first time since Fleck’s first season (2017). Now, the Gophers need a victory vs Wisconsin in the season finale next weekend, just to get to six wins.
Mark Coyle is “absolutely confident PJ Fleck is the right guy”
That’s why KFAN sideline reporter Justin Gaard was forced to ask University of Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle some difficult questions during the radio pregame show, prior to kickoff on Saturday. Included were inquiries into PJ Fleck’s job security.
The AD’s answers, if you read my blog about PJ Fleck’s job security last weekend, should not surprise you. Coyle staunchly stood in his head coach’s corner and defended him in every possible manner. The AD made it clear, he is “confident PJ is the right guy” and he will not be firing Fleck anytime soon.
“I’m absolutely convinced P.J. is the right guy. Nobody wants to win more than he does.”Mark Coyle (via Pioneer Press)
Coyle claims schools always coming for PJ, even now
Coyle even doubled down. Not only will he not be firing Fleck, other schools across the country are, according to the Minnesota AD, trying to steal him from under our nose, at every turn.
“I know people don’t always believe me… but people go after P.J. each year. He has a name. Again, I know people are disappointed in the results this year. People are still chasing him. If you look at these openings, his name pops up almost every time, so that is why we have to continue to be creative and do everything we can to keep him here.”Mark Coyle (via Pioneer Press)
I don’t know if Coyle is being honest or not, but I find it hard to believe that there are legitimate power 5 programs who are desperately trying to pry PJ Fleck away from Dinkytown on a regular basis. Sound a little bit like Mark is getting played sometimes by Fleck’s agent, but what do I know?
Either way, it’s clear Fleck is going nowhere as long as Mark Coyle is the athletic director.