The Western Michigan Broncos are 8-0 and currently ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history. Head Coach P.J. Fleck has architected this dream season by leading his team to wins over two Big 10 programs and a 45-31 win over in-state rival Eastern Michigan on Saturday. Fleck joined The Jim Rome Show on Monday and talked about how he’s been able to keep the buzz at an all-time high in Kalamazoo.
“We just keep changing our best, and we always talk to our players every single day about having the ability to stem that curiosity of what else could happen, what else can we do,” Fleck said. “We never rest on our laurels; we celebrate literally for five minutes. And we literally celebrate in our team meeting room basically for the entire week. We celebrate for five minutes, we talk about what we’re doing, we pat ourselves on the back, we give high fives, we laugh, we cheer, but then it’s over.
“Then what we do is stem curiosity of what else could we do, how else could we make this better, how can you as an individual continue to get better, and not only get better, but as a unit, how can we play our football going forward? And we have a mature football team. They take what they have to do, and they actually want to do it, and that’s the sign of maturity in my opinion, and they’re definitely doing it on a daily basis.”
The energetic coach talked about how he has applied his former boss, and national championship winning head coach Jim Tressel’s advice of “keeping his head where his butt is.”
“I think the biggest thing he said just give everything you can to exactly where you’re at,” Fleck said. “I think in coaching everybody always wonders what’s happening next, who’s getting fired and where could I be. That’s kind of what coaching is about, especially as an assistant as you keep working your way up. You’re always looking at movement, you’re always seeing who do you know, what connections do you have, but literally, walking out of his office to take another job, leaving Jim Tressel, that’s what he said to me.”
Fleck said he uses Tressel’s advice in every situation, not just as a coach.
“When I’m with my family, my head is right there with them. I’m 100 percent present,” Fleck said. “Western Michigan gets 100 percent of me every single day, as well my staff gets 100 percent of me every day, and my players get 100 percent of me. And same thing with my four kids, Gavin, Carter, Paisley, and Harper, my wife Heather, they get 100 percent of me all the time, and I’ve had to learn to be engaged in that moment all the time, which again, has carried over to now.”
With Fleck’s already impressive resume and only being 35-years-old, you can expect bigger conference programs to try to recruit him to their schools, but the coach says Tressel’s advice applies to today as well.
“Keep my head where my butt is, and that’s on a daily basis too,” Fleck said. “My only focus is making Western Michigan the best place I can possibly make it with my staff and my players, daily and that’s today. That’s the only thing I can focus on. And even hypothetical and rumors and different things like that, I’m never one to really comment on them, because today is the only thing I have control over.
“When you’re 0-8, or 1-11 in your first year, you can easily go and lose your last four, you know how hard winning really is. So you have an appreciation for it. And the process for it is so demanding and so difficult that you’re so humble from the beginning years that you’re so humble now, that hey, why would anyone want to come after me or why would anyone think this is the right thing for me? I’ve got to focus on right now to make Western Michigan the best place I could ever make it as well as everybody else, and that’s the only thing I focus on and I love Western Michigan.”