KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — In Western Michigan’s final home game of the season, Justin Ferguson injured his ankle and had to be taken off on a stretcher. The crowd began clapping and teammates came over to hug the senior safety. And then Ferguson, who was able to sit up slightly, began motioning with his arms, reaching them forward and pulling them back.

Rowing the boat.

It began as a curious catchphrase for a program that needed any publicity it could get, but now Western Michigan’s “row the boat” mantra has become a recognizable rallying cry to college football fans around the country — the “Roll Tide” of the Mid-American Conference. Not only have players bought into coach P.J. Fleck’s quirky motivational tactics, fans have also embraced the team’s philosophy and identity — especially now that the 13th-ranked Broncos are taking an undefeated record into Friday night’s MAC championship game against Ohio.

While Ferguson was being taken off the field during WMU’s 55-35 win over Toledo last week, the crowd chanted “row the boat” in support.

“I think it just shows how far this culture’s come,” Fleck said. “It shows that if you believe in something bigger than yourself, yeah, you might get made fun of, you might get laughed at, people might sit there and snicker, drill holes in your boat. But they can drill all they want at 12-0.”

When Fleck was hired after the 2012 season at age 32, he became the youngest coach in the Bowl Subdivision. He’d played at MAC rival Northern Illinois and was an assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but his resume was relatively short. It was his personality that set him apart right away. When she hired Fleck, WMU athletic director Kathy Beauregard said he could bring “limitless energy, passion, enthusiasm and opportunity” to the program.

Correct on all counts.

Quarterback Zach Terrell was a redshirt freshman during Fleck’s first season.

“We were probably both very unimpressed when we first met each other,” Fleck said. “He probably looked at me and said, ‘How did you get this job?’ And I looked at him and said, ‘How did you get here?'”

Fleck wanted Terrell to show more leadership, and the quarterback has blossomed since then. His stat line this season is like something from a video game: He’s thrown for 3,086 yards while completing 72 percent of his passes — with 30 touchdowns and one interception. It helps to be able to throw to receiver Corey Davis, who last week became the career FBS leader in yards receiving.

After going 1-11 in Fleck’s first season, the Broncos are 28-10 since, including the 12-0 mark this season that includes wins over two Big Ten teams.

“That’s just a testament to Coach Fleck and this entire staff,” Davis said. “They believed in us when we didn’t even believe in ourselves. They stayed with us, and we kept rowing, kept our oars in the water, and here we are.”

The Broncos entered this season as MAC favorites, even though Northern Illinois had represented WMU’s division in the conference title game for six straight seasons. Now WMU could make it to a major bowl if it wins the league title. Although Fleck won’t say much publicly about the playoff rankings — the Broncos are No. 17 this week — he and his team have had high hopes since January.

“We set incredibly high expectations and pressure on our players,” Fleck said. “We showed them exactly what they could do this week, on a screen, and said, ‘If you want this, here’s what you’re going to have to do, and it’s going to be harder than you’ve ever imagined from January to August — let alone August through December.'”

Fleck’s success has turned him into a popular name for open jobs as this season draws to a close. There is now a major opening at Oregon, and Fleck’s name has also come up in speculation about the Purdue job.

Beauregard said recently that Fleck had not spoken with other schools about coaching jobs, and Fleck says he tries to be open and honest with his players about the topic.

“We’re a very close-knit family here, and I believe they deserve to know what’s going on and what the truth really is,” he said. “I can’t hold them accountable for not telling me everything when I don’t tell them everything.”

No matter where he ends up next season, Fleck and his team have been on quite a journey.

“We don’t let the outside noise and pressure and different things really get in the way of the way that we operate each and every day,” Terrell said. “This culture was set from day one from Coach Fleck. We conduct ourselves in the same way that we did when we first started. We just change our best, and we continue to grow higher each and every day.”


More AP college football: www.collegefootball.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP—Top25 .


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BALTIMORE (AP) — A tutor at a Baltimore school slammed a 7-year-old boy against a wall, leaving the child with injuries his parents report will require surgery, police said Wednesday.

The incident was recorded on school surveillance video and occurred Monday at City Springs Elementary/Middle School, authorities said.

Police spokesman T.J. Smith said at a news conference officers obtained warrants after reviewing the video.

The child was taken to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Lateekqua Jackson, the boy’s mother, told WBAL-TV that her son is bruised, swollen, cut and is missing teeth.

“My son told me that (the tutor) threw my son into a wall,” Jackson said. “My son had dreams about it all last night. He’s still shaking in his sleep.”

Timothy Randall Korr, 25, of Baltimore, the tutor, was arrested Wednesday and charged with child abuse, assault, reckless endangerment and neglect of a minor. He was at Baltimore Central Booking and Intake Center awaiting a hearing before a court commissioner.

It could not immediately be determined if Korr has a lawyer.

School officials said in a statement that Korr worked for Baltimore Curriculum Project, a contractor. Korr has been fired, a spokesman for the project said.

NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks that moved substantially or traded heavily on Wednesday:

Hess Corp., up $6.91 to $55.96

The price of oil jumped as OPEC countries moved closer to a deal to cut production.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., up $7.54 to $219.29

Banks climbed as members of President-elect Donald Trump’s economic team talked about ways to make lending easier.

Duke Energy Corp., down $2.60 to $73.77

Bond yields rose and companies that pay large dividends similar to bonds, including REITs, traded lower.

Autodesk Inc., down $2.60 to $72.66

The design software company gave a weak revenue outlook for the current quarter.

Splunk Inc., up 24 cents to $57.62

The software company reported better third-quarter results than analysts had expected.

American Eagle Outfitters Inc., down $2.35 to $16.56

The teen clothing retailer forecast a disappointing profit in the current quarter, which includes the holiday shopping season.

Guidewire Software Inc., down $1.84 to $55.71

The provider of software to the insurance industry forecast weaker-than-expected profit and sales.

GoPro Inc., up 15 cents to $9.98

The company said holiday sales of its newest action video camera are strong, and said it will cut 200 jobs to reduce spending.

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Parties to the Syrian conflict have systematically disregarded the laws of war, showing time and again that they are willing to do anything to gain military advantage, the U.N. humanitarian chief said Wednesday.

Speaking via video-link from London, Stephen O’Brien told an emergency meeting of the Security Council that was nowhere more apparent than in the besieged city of eastern Aleppo with nearly a quarter of million people trapped inside.

“There are no limits or red lines left to cross. The rules of war — sacrosanct notions borne out of generations of costly and painful lessons and set more than 150 year ago in the First Geneva Convention — have been systematically disregarded in Syria,” O’Brien said.

O’Brien said some 25,000 people, most of them women and children, have been displaced from their homes since Saturday and that it is likely thousands more will flee in the coming days as Syrian forces step up their attack.

He said there was no longer any properly functioning hospital in eastern Aleppo, which has been under siege for nearly 150 days and that most of the people trapped inside don’t have the means to survive much longer.

He called on the Syrian government to allow the U.N. and its humanitarian partners unrestricted access to deliver food and medical aid.

Staffan de Mistura told the council that over the last two weeks, government forces have recaptured almost 40 percent of the area in Aleppo previously held by opposition groups forcing thousands to flee.

He said that his office has received credible reports of opposition groups preventing civilians from fleeing areas under their control. Also, he expressed concern that many fleeing the city, who are perceived to have links to the opposition, were being detained by government forces.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don’t have an internet connection.

The long-awaited offline option announced Wednesday gives Netflix’s 87 million subscribers offline access to videos for the first time in the streaming service’s decade-long history.

Netflix is matching a downloading feature that one of its biggest rivals, Amazon.com, has been offering to its video subscribers for the past year. It’s something that also has been available on YouTube’s popular video site, though a subscription is required in the U.S. and other countries where the site sells its “Red” premium service.

The new feature puts Netflix a step ahead of two other major rivals. Offline options aren’t available on HBO’s internet-only package, HBO Now, or Hulu, although that service has publicly said it hopes to introduce a downloading feature.

Netflix subscribers wishing to download a video on their smartphone or tablet need to update the app on their Apple or Android device.

Not all of the selections in Netflix’s video library can be downloaded, although several of the service’s most popular shows, including “Orange Is The New Black,” ”House of Cards,” and “Stranger Things,” are now available to watch offline.

Downloadable movies include “Spotlight,” this year’s Oscar winner for best film. Notably missing from the downloadable menu are movies and TV shows made by Walt Disney Co. Those still require an internet connection to watch on Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California, company is promising to continue to adding more titles to its offline roster.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had long resisted calls for an offline-viewing option, much to the frustration of customers who wanted flexibility to use their subscriptions to watch a show or movie when traveling on a train, plane or car where internet connections are spotty or completely unavailable.

Earlier this year, Hastings finally indicated he might relent and introduce downloading.

The change of heart coincided with Netflix’s expansion into more than 130 countries, including many areas with shoddy or expensive internet connections that make the ability to watch video offline even more appealing.

Netflix ended September with 39 million subscribers outside of the U.S.

The offline option may accelerate the decline of Netflix’s steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service, which offers the ability to watch video without an internet connection. Netflix’s DVD side still has one distinct advantage — access to recent theatrical releases before they are available for streaming.

Netflix’s DVD service ended September with 4.3 million subscribers, a decrease of nearly 10 million customers during the past five years.

MIAMI (AP) — The Miami Dolphins revoked the season tickets of a group involved in a fight in Hard Rock Stadium’s upper deck during a game against the San Francisco 49ers.

The team also announced in a statement issued late Tuesday that the unidentified fans are also banned from the stadium. Miami television station WFOR (http://cbsloc.al/2g55K8v ) reports another fan filmed the brawl in section 334 during Sunday’s game. The video shows men in Dolphins attire punching people wearing 49ers clothing.

The Dolphins said they immediately investigated and identified the season ticket holders who were involved. The team said “this type of behavior and conduct is not acceptable.”

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew loud boos from Dolphins fans Sunday for his political views, including recent comments in favor of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.


Information from: WFOR-TV, http://www.wfor.com/