WMU's P.J. Fleck rowing his boat to Minnesota
"It is with mixed emotions that I announce my decision to leave Western Michigan University for the head football coaching job at the University of Minnesota," Fleck said in a statement to WMMT in Kalamazoo, Mich. "Although I am grateful for and excited about this opportunity, this was a very difficult decision to make; one that involved much introspection and prayer."
"I simply feel called to take on this new challenge and to start a new chapter in my family's journey," he added. "I am proud of what we have accomplished together in Kalamazoo. I feel we have left WMU football in a much better place than when we arrived here. That was our mission. I'll always be your fan and friend. RTB PJ."
RTB stood for "Row the Boat," the mantra the Broncos adopted in 2013 when Fleck took over the program. As he explained when hired, “There are three parts to rowing the boat. There is the oar, which is the energy behind rowing the boat. There is the boat, which is the actual sacrifice, either our team or the administration or the boosters or the audience or whoever is willing to sacrifice for this program. There is also the compass. Every single person that comes in contact with our football program, fans or not, they are all going for one common goal and that is success.”
After their 24-16 loss in the Cotton Bowl, it came to stand for Respect the Boat for the national impact their winning season had on the team and the MAC.
Fleck replaces Tracy Claeys, who was fired on Tuesday, a little more than two weeks after the football program became embroiled in a standoff with the administration over the suspension of 10 players in connection with allegations of sexual assault.
Fleck was 30-22 record overall (21-11, MAC), and was 1-2 in bowl games. He was a top receiver at Northern Illinois. He played briefly in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and has been an assistant coach at his alma mater, Ohio State, Rutgers and in 2012 for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before taking over the Broncos.
Above: Photo courtesy Western Michigan Athletics