Who Northwestern should REALLY hire as its new basketball coach: Pat Fitzgerald

Benny Sieu-US PRESSWIRE

There's only one logical choice for Northwestern's vacant head coaching position: Pat Fitzgerald.

It's been said over and over again: after the success Northwestern has had with a young, energetic coach on the football side of things, the Wildcats need a "Basketball Pat Fitzgerald" to take over in the wake of Bill Carmody's firing.

Hell, I used that phrase Tuesday when talking about Bryce Drew.

I think the real question is: why settle for a basketball Pat Fitzgerald when we could have the ACTUAL Pat Fitzgerald?

I'm not the first stupid idiot in the world to broach this idea:

It was also suggested in the comments by MikeTurnerFan, who clearly has his head on his shoulders due to his bold choice of commenting handle.

Even recent Northwestern linebacker Roderick Goodlow supports the Fitz4BasketballCoach campaign:


It's far from unprecedented: back in the day, when they couldn't bother more than one older dude to hang around a bunch of college kids when a whistle, virtually every successful football coach spent some time dealing with hoops: John Heisman - yes, THAT John Heisman - was Georgia Tech's basketball coach for four seasons. Amos Alonzo Stagg, best known for his massive innovations and 300-plus college football victories around the turn of the century for the University of Chicago, actually worked with James Naismith at the Springfield YMCA when the Canadian invented the sport, played in the first public game of basketball, and is credited with the idea that five guys should be on the court for each team, and as a result, he was a first-class inductee to both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame. (For what it's worth, Naismith is considered to have invented the first football helmet.) 75 in the comments section linked to a story about Vince Lombardi's time as a basketball coach, where he coached the guy who coached Bill Parcells in basketball, so I guess there's a coaching tree there. And Phog Allen, for whom Kansas' Allen Fieldhouse was named, coached the Jayhawks in football as well. Tony Hinkle, for whom Butler's Hinkle Fieldhouse was named, was a triple-tasker, serving from 1946-1970 as Butler's football, baseball, and basketball coaches, in addition to at least one earlier stints at each position.

We're basically dumb for not doing this. Pat Fitzgerald, is, well, like the best.

Fitz wouldn't even be the first person at Northwestern to do both gigs: Dennis Grady was Northwestern's hoops coach from 1912-1914, and sandwiched in the middle, he spent a years as the football coach, going 1-6 - something the Wikipedia notes places him 25th all time on Northwestern's coaching wins list, which, thanks, Wikipedia. (He was more successful in basketball, going 25-10.) And Fred J. Murphy, who also had stints as football coach at Missouri and Kentucky (S-E-C! S-E-C!), was in charge of NU basketball from 1914-1917 and NU football from 1914-1918.

Sure, a lot has changed since Murphy hung up the coachin' boots in 1918. But Fred J. Murphy wasn't half the man Pat Fitzgerald is. Murphy was an all-American tackle at Yale in 1895, exactly 100 years before Pat Fitzgerald was an all-American at Northwestern, and I guess what I'm trying to say is that if they fought Pat Fitzgerald would probably pummel Fred J. Murphy to within an inch of his life before relenting because he's merciful. Those two things are unrelated, but they're both true. If Dennis Grady and Fred J. Murphy could do it, Pat Fitzgerald can do it better.

We're basically dumb for not doing this. Pat Fitzgerald, is, well, like the best. He was Northwestern's star when they went from the doldrums to two-time Big Ten champions, and now he's their all-time winningest coach as the Wildcats have gone to a bowl game in five straight years and actually won one this year for the first time since 1949 this year. (REMEMBER? WE WON A FRIGGIN BOWL GAME.) Surely, there are doubters that Fitz can't pull off the transition from football coach to football coach/hoops coach, but those are the same people who probably doubted the all-American linebacker in the first place.

All things can be accomplished through Pat Fitzgerald. He has led us to our first bowl win in over 60 years, now he must lead us to our first NCAA Tournament.

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