University of Minnesota Football Coach
Feb 21, 2019
P.J. Fleck
University of Minnesota Football Coach

P.J. Fleck was named head football coach at Minnesota on Jan. 6, 2017. Fleck, 38, is the 30th head coach in the program’s history. He has a career record of 41-35 and is 11-13 at Minnesota. 

In 2018, Fleck led Minnesota to a 6-6 record and wins against Wisconsin, Purdue, Indiana, Fresno State, Miami (Ohio) and New Mexico State. 

Under Fleck, a young Minnesota team beat rival Wisconsin for the first time since 2003 and for the first time on the road since 1994 to reclaim Paul Bunyan’s Axe. The Gophers also downed Purdue’s potent offense, as they held the Boilers to a season low in points (10) and yards (233). Minnesota beat Fresno State to give the Bulldogs one of their two regular season defeats. 

The Gophers have 112 players on the roster and 58 (51.7 percent) are freshmen. That's the most in the nation. The Gophers have 78 underclassmen (69.6 percent), which ranks tenth in college football.

In 2017, Fleck led a young and inexperienced Gopher squad, as 49 of Minnesota’s 110 players (44.5 percent) were freshmen or redshirt freshmen and 76 (69 percent) were underclassmen. Fleck guided Minnesota to a 5-7 record and those five wins were the most by a first-year Gopher head coach new to the program since the legendary Murray Warmath won seven games in 1954. 

Off the field, Fleck and his team can often be found at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and gave back to the community by hosting a diaper drive, canned food drive and turkey drive this year. In the classroom, Minnesota has posted program record GPAs under Fleck. 

Fleck came to Minnesota after spending four years as the head coach at Western Michigan, where he was 30-22 overall and 21-11 in the Mid-American Conference. While leading the Broncos, Fleck authored one of the most memorable turnarounds in college football history. The Broncos were 1-11 in his first year in 2013, but ended the 2016 season with a No. 12 ranking, a 13-1 record, a conference championship and a berth in the Cotton Bowl. 

The Broncos were 12-0 in the 2016 regular season and posted wins against Big Ten opponents Northwestern and Illinois. Fleck then led his team to a 29-23 win against Ohio in the Mid-American Conference championship game before ending the season with a narrow bowl game defeat to Wisconsin. 

Fleck was named MAC Coach of the Year in 2014 and 2016 and in 2016 he the Broncos to their first MAC Championship since 1988. 

Prior to his time at Western Michigan, Fleck served as the wide receivers coach for the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012 and coached the receivers at Rutgers from 2010-11. He coached receivers and was the recruiting coordinator at Northern Illinois in 2009 and tutored the receivers for the Huskies from 2007-08. Fleck's coaching career began at Ohio State as a graduate assistant in 2006. 

Fleck played receiver at Northern Illinois from 1999-2003 and helped lead the Huskies to a No. 10 ranking, a 10-2 record and wins against Maryland, Alabama and Iowa State in his final season. He ranks in the top five in Northern Illinois history in career receptions (179) and receiving yards (2,162). Fleck holds the school record for punt returns (87) and ranks second in punt return yards (716). He earned First Team All-Mid-American Conference in 2003 and was named Academic All-MAC and Second Team CoSIDA Academic All-American. He graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. 

Fleck played the 2004-05 seasons with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers. He signed with the 49ers as a free agent in 2004 and spent most of his time on the practice squad before seeing action against New England late in the season. He spent the 2005 season on the injured reserve roster and in 2006 he stopped playing professionally and started his coaching career. 

Fleck and his wife, Heather, have four children, Gavin, Carter, Paisley (P.J.) and Harper.