When Jim Fleming took the reins of the URI football team by becoming the head coach back in 2013, the future of the program looked grim. There was little to no interest in the football team around campus. There were even talks of defunding and discontinuing the program. To say that Fleming had a challenge ahead of him is an understatement. Eight years later Fleming and his Rhode Island Rams are off to the school’s best start in recent memory, winning their first four games of the season. Fleming credits the ball security for the team’s success so far simply stating that “not turning the ball over on offense” has been a huge key to their success so far.
Fleming’s path that led him to become the head coach for the Rhode Island Rams was a long one with many twists and turns. His first position was a tight ends coach for Boise State University making just $5,600 a year. He eventually worked his way up to defensive coordinator in which he served for three seasons until 1992. The following year he moved to the University of Brown to be the defensive coordinator for the 1993 season. His journey then led him to the University of Villanova for two years before coaching the linebackers and defensive backs at the University of East Carolina for four more years. Fleming’s first head coaching position finally came when the Sacred Heart Pioneers hired him. After two years of head coaching for the Pioneers, Fleming continued to bounce around various schools including Chapel Hill, Akron Ohio, Kent state and Central Florida before finding his home at URI.
After moving around the country from job to job throughout his career, Fleming stated that he most certainly questioned if he was in the right profession multiple times. However, he followed that statement by saying that he wouldn’t take it back because he loves what he does. His job as head coach comes with more responsibilities than just coaching the team. Recruitment of new players has proven to be a large responsibility. “When recruiting, it is important to take into account how important the game is to the kid.” Fleming stated in regards to what he looks for when recruiting future players.
College football has changed since Fleming first entered the scene. As of this season college players are now allowed to make money off of their likeness and their name. While Fleming says that he agrees that college athletes should certainly be allowed to make their money, he stressed that it is going to change the way recruiting happens. His theory is that kids will pick schools that will give them a better chance of making money from their name. He stressed that this could impact the smaller programs such as URI compared to Alabama, Clemson and the other bigger programs.
After defeating Stony Brook this past week in a thrilling 27-20 overtime win, Fleming and his Rhode Island Rams plan to keep the hot start to the season going next week against the University of Delaware, once again in front of the home crowd at Meade stadium. The Rams have seven games remaining, five of those games being in-conference games.