Row. The. Damn. Boat.


Jim Rome
November 11, 2019 - 11:49 am
P.J. Fleck

USA Today


On behalf of the Land of 10,000 Lakes—I’d like to use this nationally syndicated microphone to declare the following four words for the entire country and our neighbors to north to hear loud and clear:

Row. The. Damn. Boat.

I don’t need to talk to Philip John Fleck, Jr. Today to know exactly how he’s doing. I’m pretty damn confident in reporting to all of you that he’s doing elite. Because his Golden Gophers just rowed the boat right over number 4 Penn State and torpedoed that Titanic of doubters who went down with the ship saying it wasn’t going to happen. And that Minnesota hadn’t played anyone. And that the undefeated season was soft and going to end on Saturday.

The only thing that ended on Saturday was that stack of decades-long lists of Minnesota short-comings. And PJ Fleck and his program fed them all straight to the paper shredded.

42 years without a win against a top-5 opponent. Not anymore.

77 years without an 11-game winning streak. Not anymore.

115 years without a 9-0 record. Not. Any. More.

Saturday’s game against Penn State had all of the hype and all the doubt surrounding it for Minnesota. And they lived up to the hype and absolutely smashed the doubt into a million pieces. Sophomore quarterback, Tanner Morgan, turned into a virtually flawless performance on the biggest stage of his college life: 18 for 20, 339 yards, and 3 touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the country. And his favorite target of the day—Rashod Bateman—went Rashod Beastman. 7 catches, 203 yards, and the game’s first call house call on a 66-yard hookup.

How big was Bateman on Saturday? Dude was the second Minnesota wide-out in the history of the 137-year-old program to go for 200 yards receiving in game and the first ever to do it in conference play.

And then on the other side of the rock—Antoine Winfield was equally as huge, picking off Sean Clifford not once—but twice—leading to 14 points for the Gophers.  

Minnesota did things to Penn State that no one had done all year. And this is a Nittany Lions team that had already played Iowa and Michigan. A team that hadn’t given up any points in the 1st quarter and a team who held their previous eight opponents to 21 or less. And Minnesota didn’t care one damn bit. They went for 14 in the first 15 minutes and 31 overall. And when they needed a stop more than ever—they picked off Clifford for the 3rd time and sealed the program’s biggest win decades.  

And now Minnesota is 9-0 and inside the AP Top 10—with one helluva viewing party coming up tomorrow night when the new CFP rankings drop

The man in charge of it all had the best week ever. A Jungle appearance, a new 7-year, 33-million dollar contract, and a culture-validating dub—all in 5 days’ work.

You can say whatever you want about PJ Fleck and his phone book of motivational catch phrases. Just don’t say it doesn’t work. Because it does. Dude is the second youngest active FBS coach to reach 50 career wins. And he’s the only guy in history of Twitter—probably—to have the fan bases of FSU, Notre Dame, and USC all scheming for his buyout before the ink even dried on that brand new 7-year deal.

Minnesota Golden Gopher Football hasn’t mattered for half a century. And in just two-in-half years PJ Fleck has rowed the damn boat right into the center of everyone’s map. You used to have to look for Minnesota Football. Now you can’t miss it.

Don't get it twisted. That was a narrative-changing win on Saturday. Lose that game and everyone starts in with their takes on this being the same old Minnesota football program. But they didn't lose. They wired the number 4 team in the country and shut everyone the hell up.