Can the Western Michigan Broncos Go Undefeated?
Row the Boat
Western Michigan head coach P.J. Fleck was hired four years ago and brought a mantra with him called “row the boat”. The idea is that everybody in the program has a role in making the program successful, and that everybody is working together towards one common goal. The principal has been put into the spotlight as the Western Michigan Broncos are 7-0 with impressive wins over Northwestern and Illinois from the Big Ten, as well as big victories in the MAC over Central Michigan and Akron.
P.J. Fleck is one of the youngest head coaches in college football at the age of 35, but he is now one of the hottest commodities on the coaching carousel. He took over a program that had gone 4-8 in Bill Cubit’s final season but was very thin on talent. In Fleck’s first season, they went 1-11 with their sole victory coming against UMass on the road by a single point. This was followed by two 8-5 seasons which showed potential that the team had, but they inevitably fell short of making the MAC Championship game or taking down any Power Five opponents.
This brings us to 2016 where the Broncos are in the running to make a New Year’s Six bowl game as the group of five entrant. The Houston Cougars were in prime position, but a defeat to Navy means they are less likely to be chosen if other teams remain undefeated. They also still have a tough match-up against Louisville to come. Elsewhere, Boise State are the biggest challengers in the group of five as they are also undefeated and have a manageable schedule to go 13-0 as the Mountain West champion.
Western Michigan now has five MAC games left to negotiate where they should be the favorite in every one. Assuming they win those five games, they would then go to the MAC Championship Game, where they could face a rematch with Akron, or perhaps face Ohio. There isn’t a team at the level of Bowling Green last year that is likely to emerge from the MAC East. For P.J. Fleck, six games stand between him and an improbable 13-0 season.