P.J. Fleck enjoyed himself Sunday night at the basketball game between Minnesota and Ohio State at Williams Arena.
The newly named Minnesota football coach riled up Golden Gophers fans at halftime by tossing bowls to world-famous entertainer Red Panda.
— Minnesota on BTN (@MinnesotaOnBTN) January 9, 2017
"Why'd you get into journalism, Chad?"
To take videos of PJ Fleck throwing bowls to the Red Panda. pic.twitter.com/rH6wV1NOpf
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) January 9, 2017
— GopherHole.com (@GopherHole) January 9, 2017
Fleck also joined the Big Ten Network broadcast for an interview during the first half. In it, he spoke about why he chose to accept the job last week.
“This has been on my radar for a very long time,” he said. “My wife Heather and I, we talked about ‘What are the jobs that we would leave for?’ We love challenges. We love to be able to get somewhere, get our hands dirty and make a difference.
“This was a perfect job for us to do, very similar to the job we took over (at Western Michigan). We want to make sure 1967 is an afterthought.”
Of course, 1967 refers to the Golden Gophers’ last Big Ten title, won under coach Murray Warmath.
Fleck also played to the Williams Arena crowd, and at one point had the Minnesota student section chanting “Row the boat.”
— Nadine Babu (@NadineBabu) January 9, 2017
— Minnesota MBB (@GopherMBB) January 9, 2017
The phrase, born out of the death of his infant son, became a mantra for Fleck’s teams at Western Michigan, meant to keep his team focused on the goal despite the obstacles and adversities they face.
On Sunday, Fleck also spoke about Minnesota basketball coach Richard Pitino, calling him “absolutely elite,” and called the atmosphere in “The Barn” — the nickname affectionately given to Williams Arena — “absolutely electric.”
You can watch a portion of the interview below.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 9, 2017
Fleck led Western Michigan to an undefeated regular season in 2016 and berth in the Cotton Bowl. A day after the Broncos’ Jan. 2 loss to Wisconsin, Minnesota fired coach Tracy Claeys. Speculation about Fleck joining the Gophers began almost immediately, and the school made the move official Friday.