Minnesota Coach P.J. Fleck: “Find A Way To Win!”

Minnesota Coach PJ Fleck
Minnesota Head Coach P.J. Fleck after defeating Penn State 31 – 26: “We’ve got to change at some point. I think this team’s proven that, as we continue to go into the future, we don’t have to keep saying (negative) things. . . ”

Minnesota Head Coach P.J. Fleck is a giant killer. Minnesota defeated Penn State, 31 -26 in a Big Ten, November thriller they weren’t supposed to win. And his post-game, locker room speech to his players was a Sermon on the Mount type of message that will preach for years to come.

Coach Fleck’s speech is why I am an instant Minnesota Gopher fan. I don’t know much about him but I do know that if I played college football, I’d want to play for someone like him, if not play for HIM. We all need motivation and affirmation and maturation. And this coach and this team provided all of that and some for all of us who believe that things will, and must and just have to get better.

Here’s some of what Coach Fleck said after the big win:

This is what we can become. I’m sure there was (sic) some people on the final drive who said, ‘Oh, here we go again.’ Gotta let go of all of that. Fifty years ago, 40 years ago, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, 10 years ago, we’ve got to change at some point. This team’s proven that. Does that mean we’re going to win ’em all? No. But they’re doing a lot of special things that you can keep building on to make your culture stronger, and your program stronger, and make it more of a national brand.”

Amen Brother.

Note to file:as Coach Fleck taught us, “We’ve got to change at some point.” And if we change, things will change. That’s how it works. It might be bad and you might be sad, but things have got to change at some point. They’ve got to. Trouble don’t last always. Success is failure turned inside out. Weeping may endure for a night, but God promised us that joy will come in the morning. Amen and amen.

“Now, Minnesota is 9-0 for the first time since 1904, and Fleck has won six consecutive games as an underdog. And Coach Fleck has a big-game quarterback in Tanner Morgan, who went 18-for-20 for 339 yards and three touchdowns against Penn State. Morgan planned to play for Fleck at Western Michigan but switched to Minnesota when Fleck took over the Gophers. He believes in Fleck. You probably should, too.” https://herald-review.com/sports/college/illini/things-we-learned-about-big-ten-football-after-week-including/article_9c6e3821-b794-59f7-8821-296b124f77f4.html

The third-year head coach did not mince words about what the victory meant for his Gophers team.

“This team’s been through so much — on the field, off the field — through the last three years,” he said. “This team has heart. It has courage. It has character. It’s got an unbelievable culture. They found a way. The whole season’s been highs, lows, but we found a way to win and that was the biggest thing. We’ve been telling people, it’s like — we just find a way to win. They love each other. It’s a special group of young men.”

With the triumph, Minnesota’s resume is padded as the home stretch of the regular season continues Nov. 16 at Iowa, Nov. 23 at Northwestern and Nov. 30 against Wisconsin in the chase for the Big Ten West — and perhaps, now officially, the College Football Playoff. https://247sports.com/Article/PJ-Fleck-Minnesota-Golden-Gophers-football-coach-Penn-State-Nittany-Lions-postgame-interview-James-Franklin-138277618/

The 31-26 victory over No. 4 Penn State marked No. 17 Minnesota’s first at home victory against a top-five opponent since 1977, when the Gophers knocked off top-ranked Michigan three years before Fleck was born. Minnesota is 9-0 for the first time since 1904, and 6-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1961. The Gophers validated a start that many questioned and showed they belong in the College Football Playoff conversation.

“We’ve done a lot of things we haven’t done in a while,” senior defensive end Carter Coughlin said. Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck had envisioned a scene like the one that took place Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium, as Minnesota students and fans filled the field to celebrate another set of milestones

The win set off a raucous celebration from the sellout crowd. Minnesota players ran to the Penn State sideline to collect the Governor’s Victory Bell trophy, which the Nittany Lions had held since 2016. Students streamed onto the field as “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” played. Wide receiver Rashod Bateman, who set a stadium record with 203 receiving yards — the second-highest total in team history — couldn’t remember a thing afterward, saying only, “A bunch of people. That’s it.”

When Fleck entered the locker room, he jumped into his players’ arms and crowd surfed — a tradition he started while coaching Western Michigan, which went 13-1 with a Cotton Bowl appearance in 2016. He then awarded the game ball to the entire state, giving the ball to university president Joan Gabel, with hope that it eventually reaches Gov. Tim Walz.

“That’s why you take a job,” Fleck said. “That was the whole vision, to be able to have that field swarmed on a top-five team in the country, and to put us undefeated. And when everybody told me, ‘Don’t take the job, don’t take the job.’ My life is usually about, ‘Don’t do that, don’t do that. OK, I’ll do that. That sounds like a good job for me.’

“That was the vision.”

Fleck, 38, began the week by agreeing to a new seven-year, $33.25 million contract with Minnesota. He had been mentioned as a candidate for the coaching vacancy at Florida State, and likely would have been a candidate for other openings in the coming weeks.

But Fleck now appears committed to Minnesota, where he’s 21-13 in three seasons. Fleck’s record through his first 34 games with the Golden Gophers mirrors that of Murray Warmath (20-12-2), who led Minnesota to its most recent national championship in 1960.

“To see in the locker room the former players brought a tear to my eye,” Fleck said. “We’ve had seven head coaches in around 14 years. It’s hard to gain traction with former players. Everybody’s connected to someone else, and we feel like, ‘I played for that guy.’ You played for our Minnesota. That’s who you played for, and I just get to represent that.

“Part of the reason why we signed the contract was we want to bring everybody back. We want everybody to be like tonight every single game. We can create some type of dynasty, you can create some type of cultural sustainability, because your alums are the most important part of what we do.”

Coughlin didn’t know if fans would rush the field. He sought out fellow senior Kamal Martin, a starting linebacker who couldn’t play because of injury, and his roommates.

“It was just amazing to see the excitement on everybody’s face, how together Minnesota is right now,” said Coughlin, a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, who was already in the program when Fleck arrived in 2017. “It’s really special.”

The Gophers have never appeared in the Big Ten championship game and most recently won the conference in 1967.

Go Gophers!

Note To Jameis Winston: Character Still Counts

jameis winston
Suspended for inappropriate condut, Jameis Winston is pondering His NFL Future

Who should start for the Tampa Bay Bucanners: Ryan “Fitzmagic” or Jameis Winston? That’s the question.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has been dubbed Ryan “Fitzmagic” because this journeyman quarterback, who’s played on seven – count ‘em – seven NFL teams, has taken Jameis Winston’s job and is running with it. Fitzpatrick was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the 2005 NFL Draft and has also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and New York Jets. Fitzpatrick played college football at Harvard and was the first quarterback in school history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a career.

 And now Fitzpatrick has thrown for 400 yards in each of the first three games of the season even though he struggled in the Bucs’ 30-27 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. But the Bucs were down 30-10 at halftime, and they cut the deficit to just three. It wasn’t a win but it was a moral victory. Fitzpatrick competed when the game was seemingly over, and almost overcame all of his early mistakes.

As for the Buccaneers star quarterback, Jameis Winston, he was suspended for the first three games of the 2018 season as the NFL said its investigation found the he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in March 2016 in Scottsdale, Arizona. 

In a statement, the NFL said Winston violated the league’s personal conduct policy “by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent”  and the statement said  that “Disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.” Winston’s suspension is without pay and he didn’t appeal.

The NFL said in its statement that Winston is required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate with any recommended therapeutic intervention program. The league said if Winston doesn’t comply, it could result in further discipline. The NFL also said another violation of the personal conduct policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban according to Jenna Laine, an ESPN Staff Writer.

While Winston worked hard during his suspension, he is not guaranteed to return to the starting lineup. Two events have altered the landscape since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers made the routine decision to exercise their 2019 contract option for quarterback Jameis Winston. The NFL’s three-game suspension of Winston was one. Ryan Fitzpatrick’s record-setting run of three consecutive 400-yard passing games during Winston’s suspension is the other.

“Fitzmagic” has put up some astronomical numbers. In Weeks 1 and 2, Fitzpatrick led the NFL with 819 passing yards, throwing eight touchdowns and tacking on a ninth score with his legs, leading the Bucs to wins over the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles.

And so, once again, the question is this: is Winston worth it? Yes Winston is a phenomenal talent, but talent can only take you so far. In fact, talent can’t take you to the top because it’s actually your character that makes you. The character of Jameis Winston has caused us to rethink the value of his talent, because the character of Jameis Winston has been called into question more than once.

Character still counts, and you are who you are, despite, not because of, your talent. And your actions still speak louder than your words —  and your talent.    

Why Dallas Dumped Dez

dez-bryant-getty-4

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why the Cowboys dumped their ALL TIME leading receiver, Dez Bryant. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. Since he came into the League and made a home in Dallas, Dez has been a brew of venomousness that is frighteningly viral. His actions, on and off of the field, have been radical (to say the least) and ultimately lethal to his team and fatal to his career.  In other words, Dez is a hot mess.

Dez may be talented, but he’s also toxic. What Dez did not realize is that no stand out statistics or ridiculous records can take the place of a player who is reliable and dependable and stalwart and not unpredictable. In other words, character still counts.

Bryant was the Cowboys’ first-round pick in 2010. He amassed more than 1,000 yards receiving, with double-digit touchdowns, for three straight seasons from 2012 to 2014. He finishes his time with the Cowboys with a team-record 73 touchdown receptions to go with 531 catches for 7,459 yards in 113 games. And yet, the Cowboys were all too eager to say “Bye Felicia” to their golden boy of a receiver. In other words, see ya, don’t want ta’ be ya.

Dez is done in Dallas because he did not think he was a distraction to the team. It just goes to show; you can’t do what you want or say what you want and still get what you want. It just doesn’t work that way. Dues must be paid.  And in order to play in the NFL, or on any other reputable sports team, you need to do as mom taught us all, and that is to mind your manners. Here’s what the Dallas Cowboys had to say about cutting Dez:

“The other thing that we all see, and it is certainly visible to anyone who watches our games, watches our sideline, is Dez is certainly a fiery guy who plays with a lot of emotion both on and off the field,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said on the team’s podcast. “Sometimes that can be a distraction. It can be a distraction for Dez, it can be a distraction for other teammates. And we just have to really get our hands around when you put all the full body of work together where that’s headed.” http://www.espn.com/blog/dallas-cowboys/post/_/id/4766019/cowboys-cut-dez-bryant-due-to-lack-of-production-attitude

Once again, the lesson is crystal clear; your central core is more important than all of your shiny outer trimmings combined.   People might say that they like the attitude and all of the antics, but at the end of the day, we want to cheer for someone we want our daughters to marry. And Dez just doesn’t deliver. He may be able to catch a football, but lately, he can’t catch a hint. Owners and managers and coaches are only willing to put up with so much. So let this be another lesson for every and all other “characters” out there. Character still counts.

You can’t have it both ways. At the end of the day, careless, callous and reckless, abandoned living gets you nowhere fast.  The end of the line for loud mouth, undisciplined, show-boat behemoth players (and people) who can think no farther than their last antic or antagonistic tweet is a life of regret.  The sad part of the story is that Dez will land with some team somewhere but will go no farther than he’s gone before, unless he decides to mend his ways. 

It was said that the only person that can stop Dez Bryant, is Dez Bryant.  Because people, like owners and coaches, are only willing to put up with so much.

Bring Your “A” Game

Coach Rolando Lamb
Coach Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach
I just met Rolando Lamb, America’s Character Coach. Sitting with Coach Lamb, I didn’t fully realize that I was in the presence of greatness; his wit and wisdom are wonderful, and meeting him was a great blessing. 

Rolando Lamb played college basketball for VCU, Virginia Commonwealth University, and went on to play pro ball for the Seattle Supersonics. He’s been there and done that.  He is the father of Jeremy Lamb, famed UConn basketball star who now plays for the Charlotte Hornets. Coach Lamb is a coach that cares, and he cares most about character.

Character counts. It counts in sports and it counts in life. Character counts in every sport and character counts in every life.  It counts on and off of the court. And true champions have character. Character is charisma and charm and chutzpah. And Coach Lamb embodies and is the epitome of all three.

Coach Lamb says that “Champions do daily, what losers do occasionally.”  That’s where your “A” game comes in. Your “A” Game consists of these three attributes: Attitude, Academics, and Athletics. All three are important, but it all starts with attitude. Attitude is everything. Attitude is a choice.  And a winning attitude is what it takes to be in position to have lifelong success.

So bring your “A” game every day. Bring it in every way. I was blessed and encouraged to bring my “A” Game through a brief but lasting encounter with this great mentor and motivator. So check out Coach Lamb’s website, www.AGameElite.com. You’ll be in the presence of excellence, and it will bless you soul.

 

https://youtu.be/m9gxe3QQMoU