Fleck’s beginnings and other story lines discussed in the first episode of ‘Being P.J. Fleck’

ESPNU released its first episode of the show on Minnesota’s new head football coach.

Gophers football head coach P.J. Fleck speaks during a press conference on Friday, Jan. 6 at TCF Bank Stadium.

Carter Jones, Daily File Photo

Gophers football head coach P.J. Fleck speaks during a press conference on Friday, Jan. 6 at TCF Bank Stadium.

by Jack White

The first episode of a four-part series called ‘Being P.J. Fleck,’ a show covering Minnesota’s first-year head football coach, aired Wednesday. The show lasted 30 minutes and covered everything from Fleck’s childhood, his years as a high school athlete and his coaching tactics today. This article recaps the episode with thoughts from others who watched it.

Fleck’s father: ‘Actually went to the doctor one time about him’

Due to his energy at an early age, P.J. Fleck’s parents said they brought him to a doctor for a possible diagnosis.

“He was just constantly busy,” said P.J. Fleck’s mother, Linda Fleck. “And the doctor said, ‘Mrs. Fleck, he is fine.’”

Out of high school

Fleck was a three-sport athlete while at Kaneland High School in Maple Park, Illinois. He said he was considering walking on at Wisconsin to play basketball before finding a passion for football. Fleck didn’t play tackle football until eighth grade.

He also competed in varsity track. He earned All-State accolades in the three sports he competed in.

Fast-paced practices

When there’s a Gophers practice, Fleck is running. The coach said he wants to make sure he has the fastest tempo the team can while practicing.

“I want to be on and off the field in an hour and-a half,” Fleck said. “Can I get the most out of players every day to work their hardest? Yes.”

The binder

When the two were at Rutgers together, Fleck told Minnesota’s offensive coordinator, Kirk Ciarrocca, that he wanted to be the youngest head coach in college football. Ciarocca said he laughed at him.

Fleck had an interesting response.

“He goes, ‘I already have a binder, where I’m putting things in for when I become a head coach,’” Ciarocca said. “I think he might’ve been 28 at the time.”

What was in Fleck’s binder on how to be a football coach? Ciarocca wouldn’t have been able to tell you, because he didn’t look at it.

“This guy is a jerk, I just want him to see my book,” Fleck joked. “’Don’t you want to see my book? You got to want to see my book.’”

It was later revealed the binder, which Fleck still looks at today, has coaching tips and wisdom from famous coaches like Alabama’s Nick Saban, former San Francisco 49ers coach Bill Walsh and others.

At 36, Fleck will enter the season as the second-youngest Power 5 coach, three years behind Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

Why Fleck left Western Michigan

Tressel might have accidentally put a bad thought into the minds of Gophers fans when he talked about Fleck leaving Western Michigan.

“Western Michigan made it so nice for him to have a great situation and stay there forever, but that’s not the way he’s wired,” Tressel said. “He wants the next challenge.”