On Tuesday, Western Michigan University introduced P.J. Fleck as the new head coach of their football team. Fleck is currently in his first year as the Buccaneers’ wide receivers coach, but he will obviously be leaving the team shortly. As he said during his introductory press conference, he “can’t wait to get started on this journey.”
Buccaneers Head Coach Greg Schiano addressed Fleck’s imminent departure on Wednesday, once again stressing that part of hiring quality coaches is understanding that they will likely have opportunities for advancement elsewhere at some point.
“When you hire a good coach that’s part and parcel with the territory, especially if they have aspirations to be a head coach,” said Schiano. “I knew from the day I interviewed P.J. that that’s what his ultimate goal was. And that’s good; I’m happy for him. He’s an assistant coach for me but he’s a friend as well and a guy that I’m very happy for.”
The Buccaneers’ season has two games remaining and Schiano confirmed that Fleck will continue to tutor Buccaneer receivers through the end of the campaign, as he did Wednesday on the practice field. Fleck will also continue to get help from Ben McDaniels, the Buccaneers’ offensive assistant.
“Together, we’re not going to miss a beat and that’s what staffs do, they kind of pick of the slack and get it done,” said Schiano. “But he’ll be here through the end of the season and then he’ll be full time up there after that. I know [the Bucs' receivers] are very happy for him. They’re very close, those guys. This is professional football and these things happen. They’re professionals, they know they have a job to do and it’s been business as usual.”
Fleck gets his first head coaching post at the age of 32, an experience Schiano is familiar with. Schiano is confident his former charge will succeed at Western Michigan.
“He has strong beliefs, he’s very sure of himself, that’s the deal,” he said. “At one point I was the youngest head coach in the country and I remember [the talk]. You just do what you do. You don’t have experience, you don’t know, you just do what you think is right. If it’s wrong, you fix it and you keep moving. But the one thing he’s got is great energy, he’s got great focus on what he wants to do, and he has strong beliefs. When you have that, 80% of leadership is knowing where you’re going.”