Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck doesn’t have deal with Purdue
Kalamazoo -- Amid rampant speculation Saturday that Western Michigan coach P.J. Fleck had found his next job, a source in the coach's camp said "for a fact" there is no deal in place for Fleck to become the next head coach for Purdue.
The source said Fleck will not talk to anyone until after the Mid-American Conference championship game, which is Friday night at Ford Field.
Fleck does have an agent, however.
WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard told The Detroit News she has spoken to Fleck, and has been assured there has been no agreement between the coach and Purdue.
Beauregard later wrote on Twitter: "P.J. Fleck has not talked to any teams. He is committed to the WMU Broncos and preparing for the MAC championship game."
WMU (12-0, 8-0), which secured its perfect regular season Friday night with a 55-35 victory over Toledo, plays Ohio (8-4, 6-2) for the MAC title.
Just hours after fans stormed the field at Waldo Stadium following the program's sixth perfect regular season, but first since 1941, columnist Bob Kravitz of the Indianapolis Star tweeted out, "This is not etched in stone, but I'm hearing that PJ Fleck will soon be named as Purdue's next football coach."
Many higher-ups and big-money donors at WMU have thought for some time that Purdue, which fired Darrell Hazell in October, would be somewhat beneath Fleck, who has become one of the hottest young coaching commodities. Fleck, 35, took over WMU four years ago, and the Broncos went a miserable 1-11; now they're 12-0 and poised to crash the New Year's Six party, and play in the Cotton Bowl.
After Friday's win, Fleck said, in raised voice, "We're proud to be in the Mid-American Conference. We wouldn't have it any other way."
The Purdue job pays more, of course, being in the Big Ten, but Fleck is the highest-compensated coach in the MAC, with a base salary of $800,000 and bonuses that will take him over $1 million this year.
Donors recently told The News that they were prepared to pony up to give him a raise to more than $2 million annually. Contract extension talks have been in the works this season.
Fleck is signed through 2020, and has an annually decreasing buyout in his contract.
If he were to leave WMU this month, he would owe the university $800,000. If he were to leave Dec. 1 or after, it drops to $600,000.
Beauregard told The News last week that she's always had an open an honest relationship with Fleck regarding his future, and has been kept fully in the loop during his tenure with the Broncos. She said all four of Fleck's years, another school has come after him with significant interest, and it's increased the last couple years.
’Tis the season for coaching rumors and hirings. LSU on Saturday announced it was keeping Ed Orgeron, the interim coach since Les Miles' firing, as head coach, opening the door for Houston's Tom Herman to head to Texas, which has fired Charlie Strong.
That leaves Houston with an opening, with eyes also on potential hot seats in Oregon and Notre Dame, among others.
Fleck is 29-21 at WMU, leading the Broncos to their first-ever bowl win last year, and their first spot in the rankings this year. WMU is No. 14 in the Associated Press poll, and No. 21 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, though the Broncos will shoot up a bit in the latter, given Boise State -- their chief competition for the Cotton Bowl -- lost Friday to Air Force.