COLUMN: That's eight in a row, row, row

Mark Spensley
Express Co-Publisher

   Chances are you might not get my headline. It is a dig at Minnesota Golden Gopher coach, P.J. Fleck. Last week Pete wrote some nice things about Fleck, and I had to bite my tongue. After all, freedom of the press extends even into our newsroom.

   For the record, I am not a fan of Fleck. I think he is full of horse manure. Even if how he comes off: confident, cocky, arrogant, a show off, is genuine, I still think he is full of it.

   Fleck is known for being a player’s coach, which is good, but he also is perceived as being a person who wants to be in the limelight. Just look at how he runs out on to the field before each game, he is leading the pack as if to say: “Look at me, I’m the coach.”

   He also is known for several sayings and just odd ball cliches: “row the boat”, “elite”, often used buzzwords in the Fleck vernacular.

   It’s pretty rare for Fleck to complete an elite sentence without using the word elite. I don’t get it. I wonder how often elite 18–22-year-old men get it? Do they all buy into his eliteness?

   Last Saturday’s game was elite, to Hawkeye fans. The Hawks rowed their way to their eighth straight win over the Gophers. Some parts of that game were elite. Minnesota’s RB was elite. Mo Ibrahim torched the Hawks for over 250 yards on the ground. His fumble after his 30th something carry wasn’t elite. It killed a potential go-ahead field goal.

   Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell was elite. He caused that fumble and returned a late interception for a potential pick six. Then the refs, who never threw a flag all game, whistled him out of bounds, instead of letting the play end and letting replay correct their call. That could be considered not elite on their part.

   Let’s be honest, Iowa got two big breaks in the game because the Gophers failed to safely row the boat late in the game. And Iowa’s quarterback, Spencer Petras, who hasn’t been consistently elite all year, was just elite enough to lead the Hawks for a game winning drive, set up by Mr. Elite himself, Jack Campbell’s interception.

   Now the Hawks are one win away from reaching the Big Ten championship game. Beat Nebraska at home on senior day this coming Friday and it’s on to Indianapolis.

   Sure, the opponent will be either a Michigan or Ohio State team that already beat the Hawks this season but that’s why you play the games. Stranger things have happened before. Who knows, it could be an elite day for the Hawkeyes in Indianapolis! But let’s get by the Cornhuskers first. Row on Hawkeyes!




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