It's been a roller coaster ride for Western Michigan football fans over the last year. The Broncos entered the 2016 season as favorites to win the school's first conference title since 1988, as head coach P.J. Fleck had them as a program on the rise.
They backed that up, and then some, by finishing the regular season with an undefeated 13-0 record and becoming the first Mid-American Conference team to be invited to play in the high-profile Cotton Bowl Classic. They gave Big Ten powerhouse Wisconsin all they could handle in the game, but ultimately suffered their first loss of the season, 24-16.
Broncos fans were on the national stage, and they were in a top notch bowl game, which is why they had to start looking for a new head coach.
The Broncos' former coach, P.J. Fleck, bolted for Minnesota, which gives him a considerable pay raise and a realistic chance to win a national championship. If Minnesota wins the Big Ten, which is no easy task and something they haven't done since the late 1960s, they will likely get into the College Football Playoff and have a shot. Western Michigan proved that even an undefeated season in Kalamazoo will give you that opportunity.
When a coach takes a job at another school, the unwritten rule is that you don't take your recruiting class with you. There's always a couple players who will follow a coach to his new job, but Bacon says Fleck violated that unwritten rule by taking as many as 10 players with him to Minnesota. Players he had originally recruited to play for the Broncos. According to Bacon, you can't blame teenagers for changing their mind, or wanting to follow the coach that recruited them, but 10 is an unusually high number of recruits to take with you and reports are that he was very aggressive in trying to lure them to become Golden Gophers.
Listen to the full interview above to hear about the challenges Fleck's replacement Tim Lester faces and why college football could learn from the newspaper industry's demise.