With the Gophers preparing to host their biggest game in decades and the Florida State job open, Minnesota and PJ Fleck struck while the iron is hot.
Minnesota on Tuesday announced its head coach has agreed to a 7-year extension, keeping him in the Twin Cities through 2026.
"It is a tremendous honor to lead this team and represent the University of Minnesota and this great state," said Fleck. "Our family absolutely loves Minnesota, and we are excited to continue to call this state home. We are building a championship culture – one that our fans can be proud of – through the academic, athletic, social and spiritual development of our student athletes. Heather and I are so thankful to our staff, Mark Coyle, President Gabel and the Board of Regents for seeing the vision we have for our football program."
Fleck, who turns 39 later this month, is in his third season at Minnesota and his seventh as a head coach. He took Western Michigan from a 1-11 debut to a 13-0 regular season in 2016, and has Minnesota on a similar growth cycle. The Gophers went 5-7 in his 2017 debut, 7-6 last year and standing at 8-0 with a No. 13 ranking today. Minnesota hosts No. 5 Penn State on Saturday (noon ET, ABC), the first time an 8-0 or better Minnesota team has hosted an 8-0 or better opponent since 1903.
Minnesota is 8-0 for the first time since 1941 and 5-0 in Big Ten play for the first time since 1961. Beyond this season, the Golden Gophers have won 10 straight games, and their 8-2 mark in Big Ten play places them third in the conference, trailing only 10-0 Ohio State and 9-1 Penn State.
"Coach Fleck has built a program that competes academically, athletically and socially," said Coyle. "He recruits at an extremely high level and the program is seeing success it has not seen in nearly 80 years. His students are succeeding off the field, as the team has posted a record GPA and continually gives back to the community. I am thankful to President Gabel and the Board of Regents for their continued support, and I look forward to Coach Fleck continuing to lead this program."
Fleck's $4.6 million salary represents a $1 million raise from his current deal and places him seventh in the Big Ten -- though Ohio State's Ryan Day ($4.5 million) figures to surpass him later this winter.
As always, stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.