PJ Fleck may be rowing his $18.5mm boat across Lake Superior to Minnesota, but it was almost a pontoon from the bayou that delivered the Golden Gophers their new coach.
While it may be common knowledge that former LSU coach Les Miles interviewed for the Minnesota gig, sources are telling us that the Golden Gophers made an extremely innovative and bold push to hire him. A rumored candidate for nearly every coaching job in the country, it would make sense that Miles’ name would come up when Minnesota jettisoned Tracy Claeys, but many wondered if Miles could humble himself to a program that by all accounts is a number of steps down from his previous jobs ar LSU and Oklahoma State.
Reportedly, Minnesota offered a contract paying Miles a mere $600,000 a year (on top of his hefty buyout from LSU) to coach, anticipating him leaving for a bigger job within one to three years. They planned on using the money saved by low-balling him to assemble an all-star staff around him, with the end goal being to promote from within when Miles skipped town. Suffice to say, Miles was not enthused in the slightest.
Miles has been constant in expressing his interest of immediately returning to the sidelines, but it’s unknown if that goal will materialize itself for him. His name has come up for pretty much every job on the market, but he has yet to receive an offer to his liking. Miles said:
"Here's the interesting thing: The experience that you've had in 17 years of head-coaching experience, you can't put in a two-hour interview and it's impossible to try. So what you do is you do the best you can to display these great number of experiences that you've had, and then you want to see how they respond. It's important that it's a great fit. And if they don't want an experienced coach and a guy that's been through really a number of situations, I understand. I really do, and I’m for them.”
As for Minnesota and Fleck, it’s hard to imagine a better match. The Gophers were in desperate need of a fun, charismatic, all around good dude to pick up the program amidst the sexual assault scandal that made headlines late last year. Fleck, who became somewhat of a folk hero after leading Western Michigan to an undefeated season and Cotton Bowl birth, is the perfect fit to usher in a new era of Golden Gophers football. He immediately injects the program with an enthusiasm that hasn’t been seen for years in Dinkytown. That being said, Western Michigan stills owns the trademark to Fleck’s “Row The Boat” so he’ll have to add coining a new slogan to his to-do list in Minneapolis.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.