There’s something special going on in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and if you aren’t from the area, you might not even know about it yet. PJ Fleck and his Western Michigan Bronco’s are 5-0, and for the first time in program history, have broken into the rankings of the Top 25 teams in the country. This is the best start the team has had since 1994, the year in which most seniors at the school were born in. The lifelong fans who currently attend the school haven’t seen this success from the program in their entire life.
Fleck’s journey as head coach began just over 3 years ago, when he replaced Bill Cubit at the helm of a struggling Western Michigan, coming off of a 4-8 season which found them taking last place in their Conference. His first season did not end the way many had hoped it would, finding the team at a 1-11 record, and again, last place in the MAC. This time however, the program maintained faith in their first-time head coach, a decision which has shaped up to be the clear best choice possible.
Fast forward one year, and Fleck had the 8-5 Broncos playing in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl against the Air Force Falcons. A heartbreaking loss in that game fueled the fire throughout the offseason, and as fall of 2015 approached, with Fleck entering his 3rd year with Western Michigan, the Broncos looked better than ever. By the end of that year, Western Michigan was the proud winner of the Bahamas Bowl, the first bowl win in program history.
Today, Fleck and his Broncos sit 5-0 atop the MAC, less than a week from a 49-10 domination of cross-state rival Central Michigan, a program rejuvenated with life, and gaining lifelong fans by the day. Fleck began the “Row the Boat” mentality, a mantra which has been welcomed by fans and sports personalities Scott van Pelt and Kirk Herbstreit alike. This season alone, the Broncos have defeated two Big 10 schools in Northwestern and Illinois, and even better yet, the Western Michigan Athletic Program got paid over $1.75 million to do so.
The Broncos are currently listed by the Football Power Index (FPI) as having a 49.3% chance to win out, and a 73.5% chance to win the MAC, so the fate lies in the hands of PJ Fleck, and his energy filled Broncos. Do they have what it takes to finish the season strong, and become the greatest team Western Michigan has ever seen?
“I want our University to be proud.” Fleck stated in a press conference earlier this week.
Well coach, prepare yourself for a very proud school.