If Northwestern keeps on winning, will it be able to keep Pat Fitzgerald?
Fitzgerald’s name seems to pop up every season when filling coaching vacancies are discussed and for good reason.
All the former Northwestern All-American linebacker has done is lead the ‘Cats to win after win.
Fitzgerald’s ‘Cats have averaged seven wins in each of his first seven seasons in Evanston. He even led NU to a bowl victory this season, something the program hadn’t enjoyed since 1949.
Currently he’s under a contract that is supposed to keep him at Northwestern until 2020. The long-term deal pays him reportedly about $1.8 million per season, which ranks him close to the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
When his current deal expires, Fitzgerald will be 46 so even if he would honor his entire contract, he would still be young in coaching circles.
You know Fitzgerald is loyal, but this is college football coaching that we’re talking about. Will he wake up one day and realize he’s reached the pinnacle at Northwestern. Posting consistent winning seasons and going to bowl games may not be a huge feat at most other BCS schools, but at a place like Northwestern, it’s a huge achievement.
Northwestern has one of the best academic reputations in the country and it doesn’t bend over backwards for football student-athletes. Not only are they expected to make the grade, but they’re expected to graduate. Yes, that’s a rarity in major college football, particularly successful major college football programs.
Given the academic culture in Evanston, it’s very challenging to win and do so consistently at Northwestern.
Perhaps Fitzgerald will realize he cannot win any bigger than he already has at a place like Northwestern.
Will Fitzgerald have a hunger for more and will the almighty dollar lure him away from the far north side of Chicago?
Don’t count on it. This guy is unique in that he seems to be loyal to the core. He’s a coach any program nationwide would love to have, but Fitzgerald bleeds Purple and White. If there is a coach out there in the 21st Century who would stay at the only place where he’s been a head coach, it’s Fitz.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.