Pat Fitzgerald talks about Northwestern’s new Under Armour uniforms

northwestern-jersey

Pat Fitzgerald had a great quote on dais at Big Ten Media Day: “some people have called me the youngest old-school person in the country, and I’m okay with that”

He’s definitely earned it, as Northwestern has been to four straight bowl games, a first in school history. Their academic rating, APR is so high that it makes them one of the best ranked schools in the nation. And in 2012, they’ll be the only school in the league to play 3 BCS conference teams in the nonconference schedule.

The Wildcats will do it with sweet, new school meets old school uniforms.

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Northwestern 2012 Recruiting Class has Some Top Notch Prospects

northwestern-mascot

Happy National Signing Day. Northwestern’s 21 commits (the largest class of the Pat Fitzgerald era) hail from 10 states. The Wildcats signed 13 of their 21 players from three states—five from Pennsylvania, four from Illinois and four from Ohio. Scout ranks the class 5th in the Big Ten, 44th in the nation. Those numbers are higher than usual in Evanston.

In addition, Northwestern announced this past weekend the addition of highly touted wide receiver Kyle Prater (Maywood, Ill./Proviso West), who is transferring to Northwestern from USC. More on Prater here. His presence beefs up the class quite a bit. And there’s some top prospects in it, we’ll highlight the highlights of it.

Let’s start with the jewel of the class.

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Northwestern’s Five Biggest Wins of the Pat Fitzgerald Era

pat fitzgerald

With the 28-25 upset of the ninth-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers this past Saturday, Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald gained sole possession of second place on NU’s all-time coaching wins list. Fitzgerald stands at 38 wins, one more than his predecessor Randy Walker and 11 behind Lynn Waldorf’s school-record of 49.

Fitz is inked to be at the school till 2020, so it’s safe to say he’ll have the record all to himself soon enough. He appears to be a “lifer” at the school, like Bobby Bowden was to Florida St.

The win Lincoln, a game in which the ‘Cats entered as 17 point underdogs, turned Northwestern’s season entirely around; it breathed life into their once near fatal bowl hopes. Where does it rank among the greatest hits of the Fitzgerald era?

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“GO CATS!” Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald to Sing at Chicago Cubs Game

Pat Fitzgerald Leads Discussion with Former Bears, Wildcats at Great Lakes

pat-fitzgerald

With his military style buzz haircut, overt intensity, and passion for the many qualities unique to both college football and the military, Pat Fitzgerald would fit in quite well with the United States Armed Forces. The leader of the Northwestern Wildcats program held a team practice at Naval Station Great Lakes, and plans to hold another Wildcats practice on base this summer.

On Thursday, in cooperation with the Great Lakes Naval Museum, celebrating the proud heritage of athletes at Great Lakes, Fitzgerald led a roundtable discussion of five former Sailor-Athletes who played for Great Lakes during World War II.

Athletes on dais included: Ralph Jecha (football 1953-1954) and played for Northwestern 1950-1952, and in the NFL for both the Chicago Bears and the Pittsburgh Steelers; Don Lesher (1945 football); Stacy Mosser (1943 football); Ernest Bauer (1944 football); and Bill Downey, who also played for Marquette.

Most interesting of all was the proud athletic history of Great Lakes, and learning what a power they once were in both college football and college baseball.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern 2011 Recruiting Class Synopsis

pat-fitzgerald

Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald and the Northwestern University football program announced today the signing of 17 recruits to National Letters of Intent.

This year’s class features 11 offensive players and six defensive players. Northwestern’s 17 commits hail from seven states. The Wildcats signed five players from Illinois and four from Ohio. Northwestern also landed players from the football-rich states of Florida, Texas, California, Louisiana and New Jersey.

“Top to bottom, this might be the deepest class we’ve brought in to Northwestern in quite some time,” said NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald. “They all come from great families and academically, they were all perfect fits for Northwestern and what we stand for. We fully expect them to come in and help us with the goal of achieving a Big Ten championship.”

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Northwestern Complete Bowl History: Cliff Notes Version

mike kafka qb

The beauty of history is that it tells us where we’ve been in order to figure out where we’re going. Illinois took out Baylor in part one of Chicago Big Ten teams in the bowl “Texas Two-Step.” And on New Year’s Day, the Northwestern Wildcats will likewise have an opportunity to defeat a 7-5 Big 12 team in their home state; and a drivable distance from their campus. Just like the Illini did.

But before we get to previewing college football’s Ticket City Bowl vs. Texas Tech, let’s look back at where NU has been in the postseason. Well, it started nice…in 1949. But a half-century later, the holidays haven’t exactly been very happy for the Wildcats.

Let’s Review. Years denote the season, not date of game.

By Paul M. Banks

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Northwestern vs. Illinois State: the Brutally Honest Game Preview

GO-CATS!

GO CATS!

Last weekend, I drove to both Ohio State and Notre Dame to cover their openers. Therefore, the Indiana Toll Road and I became quite familiar with one another. This weekend I’m home; back in Chicago’s Lakeview East neighborhood, a placed described by Baseball Prospectus writer Christina Kahrl, in her latest Cubs piece as…there are still enough trust funders knocking around Lakeview, the Corn Belt’s Riviera, to keep their sozzled watch with semi-indifference.

Uh-oh! trust fund babies afoot! And I have to go up Lake Shore Drive to an elite, private University to take in the Northwestern Wildcats home opener! I better a bring a gun to protect myself from the two comma kids (yes, I did make a “Finding Forrester” reference)

Hopefully, I’ll survive the 25 minute trek to NU so we can discuss the game.

Chicago’s official Air and Water Show may have been last month, but I expect airspace over Evanston’s Ryan Field Saturday to be busier than the final approach corridor of O’Hare International Airport. Why? Read on…..

By Paul M. Banks

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Recruiting Philosophies: How Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald finds, replenishes his Talent

northwestern wildcats football

Some college football coaches recruit according to a primary philosophy. They stress one ideal above the others. It can be recruiting to fill positions of need, recruiting specific players that meet the profile of your system, or it could be recruiting players based on scout’s rankings, the star system beside their name. I asked Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald at NU Media Day about what he emphasizes; it certainly isn’t the third one.

“That’s a great question. I have no idea what a star means, I was a negative-star-rated player. No disrespect to those who rate young men, they don’t work for us, they don’t rate for us. What’s important in our program will ever have a correlation to a start program,” he said.

By Paul M. Banks

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Pat Fitzgerald takes Unique Approach to Conflict Resolution at NU Practice

pat fitzgerald

Perhaps no one is better at getting more out of his players than Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald. His recruiting classes are never ranked anywhere the top of the Big Ten, yet his teams have recently been finishing near the top of the conference. And they play better on the road in conference games than most Big Ten teams.

Perhaps yesterday we learned one of the secrets to his success.

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Big Ten Media Day One Wrap-up, Coaches Edition

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Check out that snazzy graphic above.  Study it.  Love it.

And then realize that this is the last year that it will be relevant and current.

Much like the conference expansion dominated the news after the NCAA Basketball Tournament, the Big Ten’s expansion to add Nebraska was the dominant topic of Big Ten Media Day on day 1.

It got a little tiresome, quite frankly. [Read more…]