Kalamazoo – Philip Chludzinski was in shorts Friday afternoon, enjoying a round of golf at the Moors Golf Club in 70 degree weather and sunshine in Portage, Michigan.
Chludzinski was again having a good time Saturday, but this time he was bundled up and standing in snow flurries at his group’s tailgate prior to Western Michigan’s football game against Buffalo at Waldo Stadium.
The topic of conversation was of P.J. Fleck’s future as head coach of the Broncos. Would Fleck be leaving for a Power Five conference school after the season, or would he remain at WMU? Could the Mid-American Conference school afford to keep him?
Chludzinski was with Joe Spoerl – both WMU grads – and other donors at the tailgate.
Chludzinski and Spoerl believe WMU could put together a package of between $1.5 million and $2 million annually to keep Fleck in town.
Fleck’s current contract has an annual base salary of $800,000, and he has the ability to make more than $1 million with bonuses.
“I don’t know what it’s going to take to keep him,” Chludzinski said. “Money is one thing, but he’s ambitious and he wants to be able to coach at a high level, and whether he’s able to stay here and accomplish what he wants to do personally, it’s hard to say.
“He’s a great recruiter and he’s getting a lot of talent here and that helps him stay one step ahead of the other teams in the MAC. He has everything he wants here. If he’d go to a Power Five school … Purdue no, but maybe Notre Dame is the one I think more people are worried about because (Brian) Kelly’s on the hot seat there.”
Chludzinski added: “I think there will be enough money and value for him to stay. There’s enough private donors.
“He’s done a great job of reaching out to donors and improving the facilities. It’s a first-class facility, probably the best in the MAC for sure. The practice facility, the locker rooms, the weight room, they are all first class.”
Spoerl thinks that with assistance from donors, WMU could double Fleck’s salary.
“I think the low end is probably at $1.5 million and the high end is at $2 million, and that would now basically double his compensation,” Spoerl said. “The school couldn’t afford that, but that’s with what the donors are going to do too.”
Said Chludzinski: “We’ve been through a lot of lean years and this is a lot of fun. Why wouldn’t we want to do this? We went out here when it was 1-11 and it’s a lot more fun being out here when we’re 10-0, even in snow.”