Greetings, college football fans. Just some odds and ends ahead of today’s Gophers practice (3:30 p.m., Gibson-Nagurski complex), which is open to the public:
Wednesday night, the third of four episodes of “Being P.J. Fleck’’ aired on ESPNU. This episode took things back to Fleck’s first year at Western Michigan, when the Broncos went 1-11 in 2013.
Fleck leaned heavily on his former coaches for advice during that tough stretch.
From former San Francisco 49ers coach Mike Nolan: “He went through a lot that first year. I told him to show how to be a leader when you’re not winning. … He probably did his best job [coaching] when they won one game, not when they won 13 [in 2016].’’
Joe Novak, Fleck’s coach at Northern Illinois, was impressed how Fleck held to his plan. “P.J. did it his way, and that’s a good thing,’’ he said.
During those tough times in 2013, Fleck, who was going through a divorce, met Heather Jackson. They would marry in 2016. “She holds me accountable,’’ Fleck said. “… That’s inspiring when you have your wife doing that.’’
Fleck also pointed to how his coaching record has improved since meeting Heather. “I was 1-11 without her,’’ he said, “and I’m like 29-10 with her.’’
Though living in Minnesota now, Fleck has a lake home near Kalamazoo, Mich., and he and his family spend a couple of weeks each summer there. The episode showed how the coach recharged this summer as training camp approached. “Water is our serenity,’’ he said. “We’re on the boat every single day.’’
Regarding his lake home, Fleck told of how he’ll follow the lead that Alabama coach Nick Saban set in an interview. “The best advice I ever got was never sell the lake house,’’ Fleck paraphrased Saban as saying.
The highlight of the episode was Fleck using a miniature replica of the College Football Playoff national championship trophy and a weathered-looking goblet as a metaphors for the climactic scene of “Indiana Jones in the Last Crusade.’’ Fleck was instructing a video producer how he wanted to use that scene as a motivational tool for his team.
In that movie, the search for the Holy Grail ends in a tomb with a variety of grails, most shiny and opulent, but one ordinary and weathered. Choosing the correct grail would give life, while the incorrect one would bring death. The movie’s bad guy chose the shiny grail and died, then Indiana Jones chose the ordinary one and gave life.
“Cheers, Indy,’’ Fleck said, who toasted the scene with a weathered goblet of his own.
Fleck's moral of the story: His team has to put in the work and drink from the ordinary cup before it can achieve the shiny one.
Later, he held that weathered goblet and said, “This is what we’re gonna put in the display case before we get one of these,’’ then holding the replica national championship trophy.
The final episode will air Wednesday at 8 p.m. CT on ESPNU.
Food drive at practice
Along with today’s practice being open to the public, the Gophers specialists (@MinnSpecialists) are holding a Can O’ Corn food drive. Fans are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to practice. All items will be donated to the Heart for Hunger campaign.