CFB Writer: Fleck Can Win At Minnesota

P.J Fleck is reportedly in the mix to become the next head coach at Minnesota, but Brandon Tierney isn’t sure that’s a wise move. Granted, Fleck is young – 36 – and did great things at Western Michigan this year, leading the Broncos to an undefeated regular season and a Cotton Bowl appearance.

Still, going to Minnesota means going to a conference with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, among others. Is that smart?

“Well, Minnesota has got the advantage of being on the other half of the division, the weaker half, so you don’t necessarily go head-to-head all the time with Michigan and Ohio State,” USA Today college football writer Dan Wolken said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “Really, your competition is going to be Iowa, Nebraska and Wisconsin. You’re probably not going to be as good as those programs year-in and year-out, but maybe you can move up a little bit in that division. You can make bowl games there. You can maybe luck into a division title at some point.”

Minnesota also has other factors working in its favor.

“It’s a great school, and it’s in the middle of a major city,” Wolken said. “It’s maybe not the greatest recruiting territory, but you can draw from Illinois. You can draw from Michigan there. It’s a decent job. I think it showed this year. They won nine games and didn’t necessarily beat anybody (elite), but that’s a good year for them. Minnesota, they’re happy usually with 9-4. The reason that Tracy Claeys got fired wasn’t his necessarily his job performance on the field; it was a bunch of other stuff.”

Wolken also shared his thoughts on Monday’s national championship between No. 1 Alabama (14-0) and No. 2 Clemson (13-1). Alabama beat Clemson last year and has won 26 straight games, but the Tide feel a bit vulnerable right now.

Can the Tigers, who are 6.5-point underdogs, actually win this thing?

“Well, I think they are so good offensively that if they play their game and they’re on, why can’t they beat Alabama?” Wolken asked. “I think that’s the way they’re looking at it. They see what happened last year and they feel like they’re better. I know Alabama probably is too, but Clemson feels like they’re a better team than they were. Deshaun Watson, the way he’s played the last month of the season, I think they really feel like they have an opportunity here, that they’re peaking at the right time and that Alabama, as good of a team as they are, they’re not unbeatable. They certainly didn’t look like it in the Peach Bowl.”

Alabama beat Washington, 24-7, on Saturday but looked pedestrian, at best, for much of the game – at least on offense. Clemson, meanwhile, shut out No. 3 Ohio State, 31-0, in the Fiesta Bowl.

“I think they’re coming into the game in exactly the right mindset,” Wolken said of the Tigers. “But they’re going to have toe execute and not turn the ball over, get the ball to their key guys – they have so many weapons – and defensively they’re very good. I think they come in feeling like they got one taken from them last year and this is their year to take it back.”

Kickoff on Monday is at 8 p.m. ET.

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