When he is announced, P.J. Fleck will become the new youngest head coach in the FBS, beating Matt Campbell by 11 months. Fleck turned 32 in November. Do you feel old yet?
MAC fans should and will remember Fleck as a productive wide receiver on that 2003 NIU squad that beat Alabama and started 7-0. He turned those accomplishments into a coaching career, going back to his alma mater and coaching the wide receivers in 2007, then moved accepted a position with Rutgers in 2010 for the same position. You may remember earlier this year he was the Northern Illinois offensive coordinator for exactly one day before resigning, saying he didn't feel he was ready to be a coordinator. He then followed ex-Rutgers coach Greg Schiano to the NFL, and it worked out for everybody. Less than a year later, he appears ready to be the Western head coach.
It's interesting that Kathy Beauregard appears to be replacing one offensive expert with another. BIll Cubit's downfall, I believe, was somewhat on the defensive side, but largely it was an inability to finish better than about .500 on the season, and the final straw was a brutal turnover plague (31 was a MAC worst). Stability is the key, and it's safe to say rebuilding will be a requirement for Fleck.
But there is added intrigue here. A popular NIU football player who abruptly left the coaching staff now has a team of his own in that same division. This might be more awkward if the Huskies had some type of coaching deficiency, but they seem set on that front. In hindsight, perhaps it was Fleck who — had he stayed — could have been coaching the Orange Bowl this January. Instead, he's inherited a cleanup job in Kalamazoo.
And that WMU-NIU game next year will be in DeKalb, in case you're interested.