Wisconsin football coach Luke Fickell denies ‘negative recruiting’ claims from Minnesota’s PJ Fleck

Badgers football coach Luke Fickell wasn’t interested in trading verbal barbs with his new rival.

Minnesota coach PJ Fleck told reporters during his national signing day news conference Wednesday that the University of Wisconsin staff had recruited negatively against the Gophers in an attempt to flip three-star defensive lineman Martin Owusu.

“Wisconsin even came in and tried to flip him early he showed me all the text messages of them doing everything they can to negative recruit, negative recruit, negative recruit to flip us,” Fleck said. “It didn’t work; we axed it.

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“That’s what’s great, you get to see all the text messages. That’s the best part of negative recruiting, you get to see all these grown men negative recruit in text messages. It’s beautiful. I appreciate everybody sharing those with us because we don’t negatively recruit.”

Fickell, who spoke with reporters about two hours after Fleck, said he doesn’t negatively recruit.

“I know nothing about (that),” Fickell said. “I won’t negatively recruit. I’m not saying that somebody didn’t call, I know maybe (we) reached out to somebody. But I wouldn’t think that we would have said anything negative about a guy going anywhere. And we’ve got plenty of positive things to say about what it is we do.

“Some people say, ‘Well, that’s recruiting.’ I don’t think that’s recruiting. We got enough good things to say about the program here and the things that we want to do and where we’re headed to worry about saying anything negative about anybody else. So I don’t get involved in a lot of the negative recruiting stuff. Whether people say it about us or they say we say it about them. Really focus on the things that we do and the positive things that we’ve got going for us.”

Owusu — a Prior Lake, Minnesota, native — tweeted Tuesday that he’d received a scholarship offer from UW but soon deleted that tweet and reaffirmed his commitment to the Gophers.

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