HOUSTON — Will P.J. Fleck “Row the Boat” in Minnesota? He hopes so.
The Golden Gophers new coach, who popularized the phrase at Western Michigan, said he’s working on getting the rights to the phrase and bringing it with him to his new job.
“We’re working on it,” Fleck said Wednesday while in attendance for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year Award, for which Fleck was a finalist. “There’s just some things to go through, and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to bring it with me.”
Fleck, who said the phrase came about after he and his wife lost their second son to a heart condition in 2011, made it the mantra for his program at Western Michigan, where he spent the last four seasons and led the Broncos to a 13-1 season and an AT&T Cotton Bowl in the 2016 season. As the Broncos continued to pile up wins this season, the phrase continued to gain popularity.
“Row the Boat” is currently trademarked by Western Michigan’s board of trustees but Fleck said he’s hoping to be able to obtain it for use at Minnesota since the meaning is so personal to him.
“When we first put it out there you had to be able to have a trademark and licensing, I think it was with the university, or you can’t sell it as a university logo through the NCAA rules,” Fleck said. “So they basically own those rights to it, and that was something that I gave them the ability to do, because I never saw a dollar from it, never saw a cent from it, but we were able to create some type of culture.
“Again, it comes from a very personal, personal tragedy in my life and that’s where ‘Row the Boat’ came from…So, I really hope they do see that, and [that] they are willing to allow me to take that, but we’ll see as we move forward. I’m not sure what they’re going to do with it, but I really hope because of what it means, that I have the ability to at least purchase it, take it with me, and continue to change other people’s lives through tragedy, through adversity, in just a different area.”
Fleck, 36, accepted the Minnesota job last week after the school fired Tracy Claeys. Fleck received a five-year contract worth $18.5 million. He was 30-22 in his four years at Western Michigan and took the Broncos to three bowl games.