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P.J. Fleck displays limitless energy at Western

P.J. Fleck has never had a more eventful 24 hours. On the same day he accepted the head coaching position at Western Michigan, Fleck's wife, Tracie, went in to labor. Instead of flying to Kalamazoo, he was in a Tampa-area hospital watching his daughter's birth. 

All went well and a day later Fleck was formally introduced as Western Michigan's newest head coach. 

"I know I didn't go to school here, but I feel like I've come home," said Fleck. "I'm a Midwest man with Midwest values and we're going to recruit Midwest student-athletes."

Fleck will return to Tampa for the next week and a half to finish the season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before turning his full-time attention to Western Michigan.

"I'd love to get the two coordinators hired very quickly and from there get their input on some things, interview some candidates and get this wrapped up very quickly," said Fleck.

He wouldn't have gotten the job if he couldn't recruit, and Fleck's first task will be to recruit the players on his own roster.

"The first thing I have to do is recruit our players," he said. "It's going to take them a while to trust me. What we have right here is what we have. We have a talent, we have to convince them they can accomplish anything."

The most common question related to this hire, which surely hasn't been asked for the last time, is if Fleck is too young, too inexperience to succeed in this role. Fleck doesn't think so, noting that he'd been trained by 13 head coaches at all levels, namely Greg Schiano, Jim Tressel, Jerry Kill and Mike Nolan.

"Age never really mattered to me," said Fleck. "It was about when I was ready. I knew it within myself, I knew I could lead men because I've been trained by the best. Then men I've surrounded myself with, I would want my son to play for and I hope people say the same thing about Coach Fleck and Western Michigan."

Fleck displayed enough energy to run a power plant, rendering the podium microphones redundant as his voice boomed across the room while detailing his plan for the Western Michigan football program. 

"My energy is limitless," Fleck said. "Don't believe me? Just challenge me. I'm proud of my energy."

Fleck is also proud of many other things, including but not limited to, his upbringing, the Mid-American Conference, his underdog status, his faith and his work ethic.  

"I've always loved the underdog role," Fleck explained. "We're going to play the underdog card at Western Michigan. We're going to take that with us."

Fleck may not have been a head coach before, but he'll have Western Michigan believing they can win when they walk out of the tunnel at Michigan State on August 31. 

Paul Haynes ready to win together at Kent State

When Paul Haynes got into coaching nearly 20 years ago, one of his primary goals was to one day be the head coach at Kent State. That box was officially checked off on Tuesday. 

"It's going to take a while to grasp that I'm the head coach at Kent State," said Haynes. 

As an alum, an Ohio native and a coach with experience at three separate in-state schools, Haynes brings more credibility than a typical coach when he says he wants his program to be a credit to the community. 

"I want to graduate all players with a meaningful degree. I want to win. I want this program to be a positive impact on this university, this community and this state."

Haynes also has a unique perspective to what his players are going through right now, noting that he went through three coaching changes a player at Kent State. But, according to Haynes, those changes happened after 1-10 campaigns, not 11-2 seasons. 

"I was in their shoes, I wore these colors," he explained. "I went through three coaches, so I know they're sitting there wondering who I am."

Taking over an 11-2 team presents a different set of challenges than a 1-10 bunch, but Haynes is prepared.

"We're going to talk about our goals, we're going to reset our goals and we're going to move forward," he said.

As far as assistants go, Haynes has yet to make any decisions. 

"I will not hire anyone until I talk with the previous staff and give them a chance to interview," said Haynes. "The job that they've done here, the respect that I have for them, I think I owe it to them to talk with them first."

More than anything else, Haynes preached a sense of togetherness for his program. "When we win, we all win. I mean the team, the university and the community. We'll do this together here in Kent."

Renovation plans for Nippert Stadium released today

With a new excitement surrounding the Cincinnati program and new head coach in Tommy Tuberville, the Bearcats released their plans today for some stadium renovations as well.

The renovations could add as many as 28 elevated privates suites and 41 "loge boxes". Adding a pavilion is also being considered in order to add an additional 1,800 seats and bring with it plenty of extra revenue. 

A combination of naming rights, donations, and ticket revenue will used to finance the project which is rumored to cost upwards of $70 million. Check out the video above for a clearer view of Cincinnati's vision.

Nearly two decades of head coaching experience can't prepare you for Notre Dame

Not even 19 years of head coaching experience, or a couple D-II national championship games, could fully prepare Brian Kelly for the head coaching position at Notre Dame.

At his press conference yesterday, Kelly explained how his development as a coach this season may have led to their success.

"I had 19 years of head coaching experience when I got here, and I thought that would prepare me...and I think that it did in a lot of areas, but not all the areas necessary to be the head coach at Notre Dame."

"I think the job tends to distract you. There are a lot of things that pull you away from the primary reason that you want to be the head coach at Notre Dame, and that is to graduate your players, and play for a national championship. To do that you have to have the pulse of your football team, you have to have relationships with your players and if you're going around the country half the time doing other things, then it's hard to have the pulse of your team." Kelly explained.

"I made it a point that I was going to spend more time with the team this year, because that's why I got into this. I want to develop 18-21 year olds."

"So my development as the head coach at Notre Dame this year has been about getting back to why you would want to coach college players."

The Scoop on Stats: Best of the Best (Special Teams and Wrap Up)

Earlier this week we examined which teams stood above the rest in the NCAA's offensive and defensive statistics. We'll wrap up the series today by examining the third phase of football: special teams. 

The lower divisions, namely Division III, have won most of the statistics so far, specifically one D-III team - Mount Union. Will that trend continue today Whose special teams were extra special in 2012? Find out below.

Net Punting - Louisiana Tech (FBS): 43.51 net average. It's no wonder Bulldogs punter Ryan Allen won his second consecutive Ray Guy Award earlier this month. 

Punt Returns - Abilene Christian (D-II - TX): 25.2 yards per return. Abilene Christian only returned nine punts in 11 games, but with numbers like theirs one wonders why teams didn't stop kicking to them after, say, five returns. 

Kickoff Returns - Kansas State (FBS): 29.2 yards per return. The Wildcats totaled 877 yards and two touchdowns on 30 returns, coming just 33 yards short of matching Florida State's 20-year old FBS record for punt return average. 

Field Goals - Patrick Murray, Fordham (FCS): 2.27 per game. The NCAA only provides individual field goal statistics, and Fordham's Patrick Murray stood above the fray after knocking in 25-of-30 attempts in 11 games.

Turnover Margin - Bates (D-III - ME): 2.25 per game. We covered turnovers lost and gained in the previous entries, and Mark Harriman's team combined the two better than anyone in college football. In eight games, the Bobcats posted 32 takeaways and lost 14 turnovers. Bates' turnover margin jumped by a full two turnovers per game over last season and, unsurprisingly, their record improved from 3-5 in 2011 to 5-3 this fall.

Other noteworthy statistics...
Punt Return Yardage Defense - Grand Valley State (D-II - MI): 0.54 per return (three yards in seven returns)
Kickoff Return Yardage Defense - Alcorn State (FCS): 11.29 per return
Fewest Penalties - Brevard (D-II - NC): 3 per game (33 in 11 games)
Fewest Yards Penalized Per Game - Air Force (FBS): 24.67

Wrap Up...

Our study covered 34 statistics, and Division III came out on top of nearly half of them (16). FBS, FCS and Division II each claimed six categories. With 240 teams, Division III is the NCAA's largest classification by a wide margin; FBS has 124 teams, FCS has 122 and Division II has 167. Outside of one super-achieving team, Division III's statistical championships would have been proportional to its membership. 

About that super-achieving team...

Division III's Mount Union (Ohio) matched the other three divisions by itself in winning six categories. The clear champions of this exercise, Mount Union bested the rest of the NCAA membership in passing efficiency, scoring offense, scoring defense, total defense, rushing defense and first downs defense, while also placing second and third in two other categories. It bears repeating that Mount Union scored more points and allowed fewer points than any other team in the NCAA. It's no wonder they went 15-0. 

 

 

 

 

 

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