P.J. Fleck's performance on Saturday was remarkable.
Also, his team won.
Fleck started his postgame press conference by picking up a bottle of pop from the top of the podium, taking a sip and commenting on the taste. The pop company received not just prime product placement but the first postgame comments from a Big Ten head coach. Just the way Woody and Bo used to do it.
Having complimented a sponsor, Fleck proceeded to insult everybody else.
He said the Gophers' 30-23 victory over Nebraska was a matter of "culture'' defeating "skill.''
That was an insult to Nebraska coach Scott Frost. Fleck was saying that Frost had better players but that the "culture'' Fleck built overcame a dramatic difference in talent.
Fleck probably doesn't mind insulting Frost, because Frost made the mistake of mentioning a certain coach's "sloganeering'' during the Big Ten media days before the season began.
Also, Frost isn't likely to be around much longer, not having lost three straight games to Minnesota and running his Nebraska record to 15-25.
"Stay frosty'' is a popular catch phrase in action movies.
In the Big Ten, it is a plea from opposing coaching: "Stay, Frosty. Please, stay as long as possible.''
Fleck's insult of Frost and Nebraska was also an insult to Gophers players.
Fleck is in his fifth season as the Gophers' coach. He was hired because of two primary attributes: Enthusiasm and recruiting.
His enthusiasm never wanes. He has had recruiting victories. He has handcrafted this roster. These are his players.
So why is he telling everyone that Nebraska has more "skill''? Isn't it Fleck's job to acquire more skill than faded powers like Nebraska?
To give Fleck the benefit of the doubt, one could presume that he's referring to the loss of a great running back (Mo Ibrahim) and a very good running back (Trey Potts) to injury. But no Gopher football coach can complain about running back quality or depth with a straight face.
Whether under Glen Mason, Tim Brewster, Jerry Kill or Tracy Claeys, the Gophers have had no trouble finding productive backs. Without Ibrahim and Potts, the Gophers were able to turn to Bryce Williams, who produced 127 yards and the clinching touchdown on 17 carries.
If Fleck is criticizing an overall lack of talent on his roster, who could he be blaming other than himself? Unless he is still trying to tell us that winning at Minnesota is next to impossible?
He insulted Frost. He insulted Nebraska. He insulted his own players.
He also continues to insult the intelligence of Gophers fans. He thinks you will believe whatever he has to say as long as he brackets whatever he has to say with catch phrases and imbues it with salesmanship.
Is this a winning strategy for the long haul?
Does he need to alter reality to run a good program?
Fleck's record at Minnesota is 30-21. He is 17-20 in the Big Ten. He is 12-7 in the Big Ten over his last three seasons. He produced one of the best Gopher seasons ever in 2019. He has beaten Nebraska in three straight games, a sentence that many previous Gophers coaches would not have been able to comprehend.
Overall, at Western Michigan and Minnesota, Fleck's record is 60-43.
Fleck is, objectively, a good coach. He's winning again this year, and despite a historically bad loss to Bowling Green, could build another impressive season.
If Fleck did nothing at the podium but answer questions and compliment his players, plenty of other people in Minnesota would be happy to praise him, and he might even get points for humility.
The Minnesota fan base and media are filled with people who love kissing up to the Gophers head coach. They don't even need to be asked.
Instead of concealing his ego and accepting the always-plentiful bouquets, Fleck begs for praise and insults everyone - his opponents, his players and the intelligence of the listener.
It's a self-serving strategy that doesn't serve anyone all that well. Not even Fleck himself.