Phillip John Fleck was introduced as Gophers football coach on Jan. 6, 2017. As an aside in his rapid-fire remarks, Fleck admitted that he was "not for everybody" with his over-the-top style of salesmanship.
Some of us cringed at the barrage of buzzwords and phrases, and silly acronyms, and fell into the "not for everybody" group. When this was followed later by Fleck's tributes to his wonderfulness and then relentless excuse-making, that group seemed to become larger.
Those that found themselves in this group — one that Fleck acknowledged would exist during his first cascade of words as Gophers coach — soon were accused of being "haters," followed by this addendum:
"You have to give him more than one year."
There's the true overreaction in the aftermath of Fleck's first season: Anyone pointing out the failure of 5-7 or making light of the inconsistencies in those word cascades therefore wants Fleck to be the Gophers' second straight one-and-done as a full-time football coach.
No one of right mind is even hinting at this. We all understand Fleck gets four years, minimum. We also understand no Gophers football coach has walked into the advantages that bless him:
Opulent football facilities opening in January, an academic system at the U that now emphasizes generous grading, and being located in the Big Ten West. Unless Fleck's all bluster and no substance, he should win more consistently than the nine coaches that have preceded him dating to 1972.
The 2017 season still deserves to be judged. Large publicity was offered in advance. Tickets were sold (although not in numbers imagined).
It was a season of football, all being precious to some, and it ended with a coach sending his team to face the ancient rival with this motivation:
Not to throw caution to the November winds in the search for a monumental upset; instead, with tactics that implied, "Let's get out there and do everything we can to hold down the score, boys."
Ridiculing Fleck for that did not make anyone a "hater," or serve as a call for him to be fired after one year. It was simply ridicule that was deserved.
Read Patrick's blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.