Northwestern football has long been in the scrapheap of the Big Ten, but a former Wildcat himself is bringing the program to new heights.
Pat Fitzgerald’s Northwestern Wildcats lost this Saturday to Ohio State in arguably the biggest regular season game for the Wildcats in many years. Yet despite the loss, the media coverage of the game helped propel Northwestern into the national spotlight. None of this would have likely happened without Fitzgerald at the helm.
A former Northwestern linebacker, Fitzgerald played for the Wildcats in the 1995 Rose Bowl, the last time they played in a major bowl game. As head coach, he led the Wildcats to a victory in the Gator Bowl last winter, the first bowl victory in over 60 years. For a program that has only played in 11 bowl games in its over 100 year history, Fitzgerald’s accomplishments on the field are even more significant.
After a 10-3 record last season and a 4-0 start to the year, the national sports media has started to notice the positive trend going on in Evanston with the 19th-ranked Wildcats. College Gameday visiting the campus truly showed the growth in the program.
Despite his early success, Fitzgerald still has a lot to prove. The Wildcats are only 5-11 versus ranked teams during his tenure as head coach, and are 1-4 in bowl games. Plus, Northwestern has come up short in big games recently, notably the overtime loss to Michigan last season and the game last Saturday. But that isn’t stopping Fitzgerald from trying to achieve his ultimate goal: winning a national championship.
A Wildcat through and through, there is no better person to coach the team than Fitzgerald. If the program continues to win and be put on the national stage, Fitzgerald’s dream of bringing a national championship to Evanston might eventually come true.