This Thanksgiving, I am Thankful for PJ Fleck

The University of Minnesota agreed in principle with P.J. Fleck to a one-year contract extension. The Golden Gophers head football coach is now signed through 2022. Recruiting is the motivation behind this move. Fleck’s “pitch” can now include how he’s in this for the long-er haul.

The purpose of this article IS NOT to discuss the nuances of Wednesday’s deal.

When the news of the signing hit, many Minnesotans hit back. People picked it apart and went right to the obvious. They complained about Fleck’s 2-6 Big Ten record, the 39-0 loss last week, and whatever else someone could ridicule just by looking at box scores. Can you guys/gals please start exploring outside of that realm? Remove the blinders and come see the light.

In honor of Turkey Day, the purpose of this article is to express why I am thankful P.J. Fleck is Minnesota’s football coach.

To the above mentioned naysayers; what did you expect to happen this year? Would a Jerry Kill or Tracy Clays coached team have led us to a Rose Bowl? That is something this program hasn’t done since 1962. To even have a chance to smell roses, you have to get by the Badgers. As of now, they own the Big Ten West. The Axe is the first stepping stone. Neither of our two previous leaders were able to beat Bucky. To be more precise, neither of them were able to get within double digits.

The 2015 Citrus Bowl invitation was cute. Did you want another one of those? Was losing by 16 last time fun? Keep your Citrus Bowl. Double goes for the Insight, Texas, Quick Lane, and Holiday Bowls. We want roses. Or at least that damn Axe.

P.J. gives us the best chance to get that accomplished. His recruiting classes already are and will continue to run circles around those of his predecessors. Per 247Sports.com, Fleck’s 2018 class of commits is ranked 35th in the country. Here are the National ranks for our five previous classes: 2017 (59), 2016 (46), 2015 (63), 2014 (57), and 2013 (67). This is only his first year, people.

Alex Reigelsperger is among the 2018 class. The D-Lineman from Ohio is the highest graded recruit to join Gophers Football in over a decade. In my interview with Alex, I asked why he chose Minnesota. Fleck was the first thing he mentioned. Just like he did with Alex, P.J. resonates with these young men. Reigelsperger and his peers are just the beginning. It is fully anticipated that the Gophers ’19 class will be ranked even higher than ’18.

Alabama has set the bar for college football. Nick Saban has led the Tide to four National Championships in the past eight seasons. How? They have had the number one ranked recruiting class in the country each of the past five seasons. There’s nothing special in the water in Tuscaloosa. This shit isn’t rocket science. If a program is trending upward, it’s most likely recruiting. Downward? Let’s start by taking a look at the recruits.

R-E-C-R-U-I-T-I-N-G.

P.J. Fleck’s ability to recruit at the highest of levels is the biggest reason for my thankfulness. That ability translates to wins. Everything that his “culture” stands for is icing on the cake. Roses or at least the damn Axe. It takes talent to get there. Trust the process. Buckle up. Coach Fleck is driving.

*Video PSA: Don’t watch this before you hit the Thanksgiving dinner table…. or do… it’s your body…

Johnny Minnesota  @mnsportsnstuff
Minnesota Sports Fan MinnesotaSportsFan.com