Northwestern did not stage a spring game this year and head coach Pat Fitzgerald absolutely, positively made the right call there. As someone who militantly believes there is actually no such thing as a “spring game,” I’m one million percent in support of that decision.
A game requires an actual external opponent, so what went on at myriad other schools all across the country today weren’t anything more than intra-squad scrimmages with branded titles. Not having a so-called spring game meant that Pat Fitzgerald wasn’t asked to analyze meaningless statistics in a faux game. Instead, the conversation with reporters covered a vast array of topics, and many of them went above and beyond football.
There was talk of: smartphone addiction, social media “influencers,” the adverse effects of social media on both interpersonal communication and society at large, how Instagram likes are a worthless currency and…wait for it…the dinosaurs going extinct.
We’ll cover that last topic in part two of this interview article series, which relates to the Chicago Cubs bringing in Pat Fitzgerald to consult on a couple issues this off-season. It will all make sense in the end, trust us.
We have a whole lot of ground to cover, but before we dive into all of that, the reason Northwestern didn’t have a spring game is simple- they just didn’t have enough healthy bodies. Fitz said he began the spring with about 60 guys at full fitness and that he ended the session somewhere in the 50s.
“I’d rather get better than have a marketing thing,” Fitzgerald told the media today after Northwestern’s final practice of the spring.
“Today was a very intense practice, for those of you that were here watching.”
As today was the day that almost every program across the nation held their fake game, we saw a lot of attendance bragging and attendance smack talk taking place on social media.
“Quite frankly, I could care less what anybody else does, to be absolutely crystal clear, I’m going to do what’s best for our team.”
One major topic of discussion during Fitz’s media session today was issues of communication, which aren’t anything new in the grand game of American football, but becoming more severe now in the smartphone era.
“Communication is key, and it’s getting increasingly more difficult, just because young people don’t communicate with their eyes and their lips, they communicate with their thumbs,” he said.
“It’s always been a challenge in our game, again 11 guys out on the field, 90,000 people, 75,000 usually (in the stands), there’s a lot of distractions. I just think it’s increasingly more difficult, because you communicate with your thumbs.”
The reigning Big Ten coach of the year continued to opine on how information technology and communication media have evolved.
“Right? Am I wrong, nobody calls you, you don’t listen to voicemails anymore- that’s how they’re use to communicating, and we don’t take our cell phones on the field.”
“We need to do a better job as teachers, parents, and obviously in my role here coaching, of forcing guys to communicate properly, so we can all be on the same page.”
It really is a shame that our government has done little, if anything, to stop solicitation phone calls and robocalls. The percentage of phone calls made that can be classified into either of these two categories is alarmingly high and only figures to increase in future years.
I can’t think of anybody whoever answers a phone call from a number they don’t recognize; nor should they. The Orland Park native also discussed how television, with its commercial breaks, has conditioned us into shorter attention spans, and thus Fitzgerald has adjusted his team meetings accordingly.
Breaks are more frequent and occur in smaller intervals.
“Some of them have that Instagram fix,” he said before breaking into a comedic lampoon of the stereotype:
“Oh my gosh who followed my picture?! Who gave me this or the heart emoji?!”
“And they look at it and then they come back in, and in my mind it’s absolutely pathetic, but that’s where we’re at as a society today because somebody may have liked one of my pictures, even though it’s a fake picture, in some fictitious world that I live in because actually my life sucks, it’s absolutely pathetic.”
I hope you read that last passage in the sarcasm font, and that you’ll make that sarcastic font even bigger and bolder for the next quote.
“In my next life, I’m going to come back as an influencer. I hear that’s a new profession,” Pat Fitzgerald joked.
“So I look forward to becoming that.”
“What a pathetic world we have.”
There was, however, still time to work in one last dig at Instagram today.
Asked about adjusting the scheme and playbook in a year that brings a new starting quarterback, press conference gold was struck again repeatedly.
“I get asked a lot, why don’t you do this, why don’t you do that?”
“Well, we can’t execute it.”
“I kind of look at those questions and ask why don’t those people who do everything not win? Because they do everything and they do it all really shitty! And I’d rather do a few things really friggin’ good!”
“Like I know that you know that I’m going to run this play and I’m still going to kick your ass! To me that’s exciting!”
“That’s football it’s not like ‘woo-who I’m cool look at me call this creative play!’ Maybe someone will give me a thumbs up on Instagram, I don’t care!”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation.
Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, also contributes to Chicago Now. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram. The content of his cat’s Instagram account is unquestionably superior to his.
Leave a Reply