MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A new era of Golden Gopher football started Thursday night at the University of Minnesota.

P.J. Fleck led the team out of the tunnel before tonight’s matchup against Buffalo.

But nearly 12 hours before that, the boat was ready to leave the dock. And marching band alumni were ready to row it. Many took the day off to tailgate and welcome in a new era of Gopher football. Arriving near campus before 7:00 Thursday morning.

“I’ve always heard you can be Flecknitized, you can be ‘inFleckted.’ A lot of times we say you have ‘inFlecktion’ and the only cure is Gopher football,” said Kevin Zalec.

After a 9-win season, the U of M fired Tracy Claeys and hired P.J. Fleck. He took Western Michigan from 1-11, to an undefeated regular season last year.

From day one Fleck has brought energy and excitement to the U. It reached its pinnacle during his first run through the tunnel at TCF Bank stadium.

There’s a belief that Coach Fleck can help the Gophers take that next step. The student section was packed, and they turned Fleck’s “Row the Boat” mantra into a game-long chant.

“He seems more alive. This whole state needs more energy,” said student Mateo Martinez.

Martinez is a Gopher season ticket holder. And so far, he’s buying whatever PJ Fleck is selling.

“I think if he brings energy, the students will come and they’ll bring energy and we’ll have a really great team this year,” said Martinez.


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