Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck was only at Ohio State for a year — the 2006 season — but the lessons he learned are still part of what he teaches today.
Fleck’s story is an interesting one, and only a brief moment of it involves Ohio State, but lessons don’t need to be long in order to be lasting.
Speaking with the assembled Minnesota Gophers beat this week, he was asked what he remembered about his time at Ohio State, and his response was so enlightening, it needs to be shared.
And in typical Fleck fashion, he says he won’t say a lot, but then goes on to give more than could have been asked.
His answer, in its entirety is posted below.
“I remember a lot. But I won’t tell you a lot. I was only there about seven months. I got cut from the 49ers and got a call because I wasn’t going to play anymore, got a call immediately that somebody didn’t get into school and they had a GA job open. I was like, ‘that sounds good.’ Went there and had a tremendous run.
“I got a chance to see — and this is a great compliment. I got a chance to see Jim Tressel go 12-0, and every game we won, I was like, man, this coaching thing is easy. Playing was hard but coaching, this a breeze. Every game we win by 30. This ain’t that hard. Just do what Jim does, and I’m sure they will do that when I become a head coach.
“I remember we got into the National Championship Game and you all saw how that went. Teddy Ginn scores the opening touchdown on a kickoff return, breaks his foot. Entire game plan is built around Teddy Ginn. And middle of the second quarter we go for it on fourth down, Jim Tressel says into the headset, which again I’m thinking, he’s the closest thing to a higher power you can get. And he says, ‘Boys, if we don’t get this fourth down, it’s over.’
“And at that moment I found out, that anybody can get beat at any point, whether you’re looked at as a terrific coach, whether you’re looked at as a bad coach or whether you’re looked at anywhere in between, whether you’ve got great players or whether they have worse or whether you’ve got worse players or they have got better players, at any point, that can shift. And I think that was the most humbling part of — even my second-most humbling part of my coaching career was watching that.
“It was a tremendous lesson. If we had won that National Championship Game, I don’t know how that would have affected me as I continued to go through my coaching career, but I got to see the greatest parts of him and that he’s human and that he’s like every other coach. I think that was good for me to see.
“Jim Tressel will tell you he’s a teacher, not only a president of a university or head coach, he was a teacher before all of that. If he could find a way to teach all the people in his organization a lesson, that’s what he was always doing and that’s what I took out of it.”