P.J. Fleck got right to it at his first Big Ten media days appearance early Tuesday morning in Chicago.
“This is the honeymoon stage,” the first-year Gophers coach told the assembled media, “and it’s coming down to the end here.”
Fleck was hired in January at Minnesota, replacing Tracy Claeys. He said Tuesday, dressed in a checkered gold suit with a maroon tie and pocket square, as his first Gophers training camp nears the first part of his Minnesota career is over, and the real work is about to begin. “It’s a wonderful challenge here at the University of Minnesota, one we look forward to attacking.”
Fleck was in the news again last week when ESPN announced it was feature the coach on a four-part reality TV show, “BEING P.J. Fleck,” to be aired in August on ESPNU.
When asked about the show, Fleck said he views it as part of the job, that was hired in part to “bring national exposure, national attention to the University of Minnesota.”
“Every coach has to sell themselves” to the public at some point, Fleck added.
Fleck said he hasn’t seen the show and didn’t get to chose the title.
This being his first Big Ten media days, Fleck was asked if he had been welcomed by the other 13 coaches.
“Everybody has been incredibly warm and open,” he said. “Coaching is a fraternity ... you all are pretty close. You compete on game day. But you have a lot of relationships with people. James Franklin is a very, very close friend. Pat Fitzgerald, I remember 10 years ago I came here to Chicago to meet Pat and just had lunch, took me out to lunch, talked to me about what being a head coach was all about. That was 10 years ago. I knew I wanted to be a head coach.
“You’re talking about these guys being very open, warm. We’re all competitors. We’re competing in recruiting, you’re competing on the field, but really they’ve accepted me as part of the group very quickly.
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from the Big Ten and the coaches. We have some of the best coaches in the entire world, guys that have been my mentors, guys that I’ve looked up to, guys that I have known for a very long time as well. That’s why I said I’m very honored and very humbled, as well as our football staff, to be a part of the Big Ten.”
Star Tribune writer Chip Scoggins — @ChipScoggins on Twitter — is at Big Ten media days and will file a report from Chicago soon. Check back to startribune.com/sports for updates all day.