Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck hit with 15-yard penalty for running out onto field

Head coach P.J. Fleck of the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the second quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions at TCFBank Stadium on Nov. 9, 2019 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck is known for his exuberance, but that got him in some trouble during Saturday’s game against Iowa. 

Trailing Iowa 20-13, Fleck kept his offense out on the field on fourth-and-4 from the Iowa 14. Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan hit star wideout Tyler Johnson in stride for what would have been a first down, but the normally reliable senior dropped the pass. Just after the ball hit the turf, however, Johnson was hit by Iowa’s Dane Belton.

Minnesota's Tyler Johnson was hit by Iowa’s Dane Belton after dropping a pass. (via Fox)

Belton was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for hitting Johnson after the play, a 15-yard foul. And here’s where Fleck comes in. 

Inexplicably, the coach ran all the way out onto the field — seemingly in an effort to protect Johnson — and was also hit with a flag. 

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck is seen running onto the field to talk to his players when the referees direct him back to the sidelines. (via Fox)

Fleck even had to be pushed back to the sideline by an official.

Minnesota coach Fleck got a little too juiced up and was penalized for running onto the field. (via Fox)

Fleck’s decision to run so far onto the field resulted in an unsportsmanlike penalty of his own, and it would push the Iowa offense out to the 22 instead of being buried at the 7-yard line. 

They were both dead ball penalties that occurred after the play. Belton’s was first, and then Fleck’s. As explained by Fox’s Mike Pereira, that’s why the ball went back to Iowa out at the 22. 

“Normally two dead ball fouls will offset if you don’t have clear occurrence as to which one happened first. Here you did. You get this [Iowa] hit that happens first. And later on you get P.J. Fleck who runs out onto the field. He’s going to get penalized from that,” Pereira said on the broadcast.

“Since you can determine the order of occurrence, you penalize them both — the first, of course, going half the distance and the second one taking the ball out to the 22.”

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