Northwestern will not be making any staff changes this year, according to Teddy Greenstein.
No staff changes for #northwestern fball, Fitz says thru spokesman. More to come.— Teddy Greenstein (@TeddyGreenstein) December 20, 2014
This comes on the heels of two straight 5-7 seasons, when many fans called for changes, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Wildcats have regressed significantly on offense, particularly this year, finishing 87th in the F/+ ratings. What's worse is that NU has regressed as talent has improved, particularly on the offensive line and at wide receiver. That's a significant issue with position coaches, all of whom will apparently keep their jobs.
On the coordinator side, many fans called for offensive coordinator Mick McCall to be fired. McCall has the reigns on offense, and is at least partially responsible for NU's disastrous decision to go to a hybrid power/spread offense with players recruited specifically for the spread. That decision likely cost NU its first two games (and possibly the Minnesota game), and subsequently cost the Wildcats a bowl berth.
The decision to keep every staff member is surprising, given that many people I spoke with around the program, including on the team, said that they felt, and it seems the coaches felt, there would be major changes if NU failed to make a bowl game. Maybe the Notre Dame game gave Pat Fitzgerald hope? Maybe he thought injuries played a major role yet again this season? Or maybe Fitz is just too loyal, as some have suggested.
Fitz also needs to look at how he's using his staff. NCAA rules only allow nine assistant coaches per team (not counting grad assistants), so NU can't just add more of them, but they are curiously allocated. There is no full-time quarterbacks coach, while the Wildcats employ a full-time coach strictly for superbacks. There might need to be some changes there at some point to address NU's weaknesses if they persist.
Nevertheless, although Fitz is viewed as nearly infallible by almost everyone in the fan base — or at least, unfireable unless the down period continues for a substantial amount of time — it is now firmly on him if things don't improve. NU should have a better quarterbacking situation next year, and the Wildcats very clearly have improving talent. But if the wins don't start coming, then this decision could backfire.