The Northwestern Wildcats are coming off of a 10-win season and there is a lot of optimism around the program. The 64-year-old bowl drought is history and the momentum has carried over into the last week of winter workouts. The catalyst behind it all is the coaching staff.
Other coaches are noticing what is going on in Evanston and many of them are envious of the bond the Northwestern coaches have together. The leader of them all is, of course, the head man Pat Fitzgerald and his eccentric personality. Fitzgerald has placed a lot of blame on himself and his staff when things go awry and heaps the praise on the players when things go well. He is a confident and fiery young coach with a staff that backs him up and a team that is realizing its potential on the field.
The coaching staff has done wonders to develop the talent they have, most of which came out of high school with three stars or less. The success the Wildcats have had with two and three-star recruits has allowed the program to evolve and all of a sudden, four- and five-star recruits are interested in becoming Wildcats. The change in culture can be directly tied to Fitzgerald, both as a linebacker for Northwestern in the mid-90s, when he led them to back-to-back Big Ten titles, and as a coach leading his alma mater to five consecutive bowl games for the first time in program history.
Most people will see the athleticism of players like Kain Colter and Venric Mark and heap the praise on them. Instead, the public should look at what a remarkable job Fitzgerald has done in Evanston and how he has turned this program around.