Northwestern fans have been awfully riled up the past couple of weeks about not making the top 25 in either major poll — AP or USA Today — but don't count Pat Fitzgerald among them. As far as the seventh-year coach is concerned, it's just a popularity contest, anyway.
"If it were up to me, I would not rank anybody until the middle of October," Fitzgerald said. "I'd make everybody play three conference games and then you know where teams are at. All of the stuff that gets done in the preseason, it's all just a popularity contest, and how many clicks you get of a mouse on a website and how many magazines you get on. It's a waste of time. What matters is where you're at going into November, if you've got yourself in contention to be a championship-caliber team."
That's been the Wildcats' chief issue of late. As Fitzgerald has put it himself, they have been a "crappy" October team of late. Northwestern has a 10-15 record in October during Fitzgerald's tenure, including a 1-4 mark last season. As for the coach himself, he has always refused to vote based on principle.
"I don't vote for a reason," Fitzgerald said. "I don't have an opportunity to watch all of the games and I think it's great that the coaches get a vote, but again, I don't have the time to be able to do that, and that's the reason why I choose not to. As far as the AP goes, maybe everyone gets to watch it, I don't know, maybe they do, maybe they don't."
If he had a vote in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, it likely wouldn't be him voting in the poll. It would be someone else in the football program and that just wouldn't be right, according to Fitzgerald.
"If I were to do it, I'd want to be the one that's doing it," Fitzgerald said. "I have enough on my plate being a father of three that are under 10, trying to be a good husband and trying to lead a football program, let alone trying to study up on what's going on all over the country. I wish I had time to do that."
Stat of the Day: Learning Curve
While the Hoosiers have grown, as I remarked earlier this week, the fact remains that they are very, very young. Their entire defensive backfield is composed of sophomores. Meanwhile, eight of their 11 offensive starters are either freshmen or sophomores. That includes two sophomore wide receivers (Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer), a sophomore quarterback (Cameron Coffman) and two freshmen on the offensive line (Dan Feeney and Jason Spriggs).