RUMOR: If Successful in 2021, PJ Fleck Will Leave Minnesota for ACC Payday

Photo: Jack Rodgers - MN Daily

There is a lot of hope and optimism coming from the Minnesota Gophers football program, leading into a 2021 season that kicks off on September 2 at TCF Bank Stadium vs Ohio State. But with optimism, comes “PJ Fleck is leaving us” rumors.

This time, those rumors are being pushed by a local insider who couldn’t be more plugged in and credible. Charley Walters, at this point in his career, only writes every other weekend for the Pioneer Press. But anything he does print is pretty much guaranteed to be laced with at least a few sticks of dynamite.

Today’s biggest charge was early “buzz” surrounding PJ Fleck and a move to the ACC, should his 2021 campaign with the Gophers end a successful one. According to Walters, Virginia Tech is ready to offer $6 million/year to the current Minnesota head coach, a number that could potentially make him top-10 among his national peers. Fleck’s salary at the U of M is $4.6 million/year, good for #24 in the nation (according to USA Today).

Time to buy-in on football

Virginia Tech isn’t the classic helmet school you’d expect PJ Fleck to leave Minnesota for. But, when you look at the evolving landscape of college athletics, especially football, this kind of investment shouldn’t be surprising.

With the entire hierarchy and business model of the NCAA being questioned in both the court of law and public opinion, cash could quickly become the king of athletic departments across the country. If the NCAA, and the Universities themselves, have to start splitting revenue with the football and basketball players who make them billions, then more and more stacks of cash will have to start pouring into football and out of other sports.

The schools that invest in football early will jump out in front of this New World Order of college athletics. If the Gophers do find success in 2021 (8 wins or more, according to Walters), then Mark Coyle cannot allow a number like $6 million to scare the Board of Regents out of extending PJ Fleck.

Remember, the football program makes $100 million for the AD every (normal) year. Outside of men’s basketball, the other sports all lose money. Smart business people invest back into what’s successful. For the U of M athletic department, that’s PJ Fleck and his Row the Boat football program.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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