Today, as you probably done heard, is Pat Fitzgerald's big day. Our coach is getting inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame for his service to NU as a linebacker back in 1995-96, when, as you also probably know, he led NU's defense to two of the best seasons in NU history, and certainly the best two defensive seasons.
Unfortunately, I'm only 19. I barely understood football when Fitz was domineering opposing running backs, and didn't pay attention to NU football for at least ten years after his days in purple were over. I know him as a coach. I've already offered my views on Fitz the coach in picture form, so allow me to do so in words.
Even if Pat Fitzgerald was Carmody bad at running a program, I'd still probably like him a lot. He's young, extremely passionate, easily excitable, friendly and likable, he stands up for his players and they love him back for it, and it genuinely seems like he loves Northwestern.
Luckily for us, that's not a problem. Fitz might be the best recruiter in NU history, and we've seen steady improvements each year he's coached, and, small sample size be damned, the man actually has a winning record as an NU football coach. He probably has close to a 100% approval rating among NU students, as evidenced by his close to mythical status among us and by the extraordinarily high percentage of people who kept those disembodied PTI Pat Fitzgerald heads on sticks they gave out at the Purdue game and put them somewhere in their room.
Some people talk about Coach Fitz becoming NU's personal Joe Paterno, others talk about him being lured away to some other school by a few extra million. To be honest, as much as other schools are probably willing to shell out for him, I'd be surprised (and betrayed) if he went anywhere else. Fitz is genuinely in love with Northwestern, and is still grateful for getting recruited by NU and for the fact that we gave him a chance as a coach. And I think we'll see him here for decades to come. Hopefully, he'll age more gracefully than Joe Pa.
So, Coach Fitz, congratulations, and thanks.