Minnesota's P.J. Fleck on Kirk Ferentz's late-game timeouts? 'Didn't offend me one bit'

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

INDIANAPOLIS — When Minnesota visits Kinnick Stadium Nov. 13, it will be almost exactly one year since one of Kirk Ferentz’s most brash moments of his coaching career — uncorking all three of his timeouts, back-to-back-to-back, up 35-0 in a frigid night game with 22 seconds to go in Minneapolis.

Ferentz didn’t admit this, but the speculation was that he was perturbed that the Gophers were leaving their first-string stars, like Mo Ibrahim and Rashod Bateman, in the game against Iowa’s second- and third-stringers. Afterward, Iowa hoisted the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after a 35-7 win (Minnesota did avoid the shutout with 19 seconds left) and then Ferentz delivered a postgame zinger of an explanation when he said, “Figured we’d take Floyd with us and leave the timeouts here.”

P.J. Fleck is 0-4 against Kirk Ferentz since becoming Minnesota's head coach.

Iowa has beaten Minnesota in each of the past six meetings and is 4-0 vs. Fleck — including a 23-19 win in 2019 when the Gophers came to Kinnick with a 9-0 record and No. 7 national ranking.

Fleck was asked to revisit those final 22 seconds of the 35-7 loss at Thursday’s session of the Big Ten Media Days by the St. Paul Pioneer-Press’ Andy Greder. In the postgame session, he brushed off the question. Thursday, he was more talkative.

“Timeouts are there to be used,” Fleck said, grinning with mostly Minnesota media surrounding him. “That doesn’t affect me one bit. And you know what? We haven’t beat ‘em. So they can do what they want to do. They have Floyd of Rosedale. They have the pig. They have something we really want in their trophy case.”

At the beginning of the energetic Fleck’s 1-minute, 48-second answer, he noted how much respect he has for Ferentz … and by the end, he was talking about his love for “The Wave” to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital and the Kinnick atmosphere.

“How he said it doesn’t bother me one bit. That’s rivalries. But I have a ton of respect for him, his program, University of Iowa,” Fleck said. “I was asked earlier, 'What’s the most difficult environment you’ve ever played or coached in?' I said, 'The University of Iowa at night.'"

Fleck has been to Kinnick as a player (with Northern Illinois), as a graduate assistant (at Ohio State) and as a head coach (in 2017, a 17-10 Iowa win).

“Everybody’s loud, and they’re right on top of you,” Fleck said. “And that’s our rival I’m talking about. I’m not afraid to say that because they’re our rival."

Finally, getting back to the timeout issue again, he added, "(Ferentz) can use his timeouts however he wants to use those timeouts. That didn’t offend me one bit."