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Union effort helped players learn 'where guys come from'

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In the beginning, the unionization movement at Northwestern undoubtedly caused some resentment and tore the team apart. But at Big Ten Media Days on Monday, Pat Fitzgerald said that as the unionization process has run its course, it's actually caused the team to become more united.

"I'm proud of the maturity that our guys demonstrated throughout the whole process," Fitzgerald said. "As we visited throughout the offseason, I believe there's no more unified football program in the country. We've been through more since January than most, and it's been nothing but a positive, and nothing more than unifying in our locker room and throughout our entire football program."

Part of the reason was because of all the meetings. NU had more meetings than any other team this offseason because of the union, and it allowed players to see why their teammates voted one way of the other.

"It's definitely been able to be a springboard from a leadership standpoint," Fitzgerald said. "To see the way that our seniors and leadership council stepped up to say, 'This is what our football team is about right now,' will hopefully pay dividends as we move forward."

Star safety Ibraheim Campbell noted that it allowed players to learn "where guys come from" and that they "heard things you never would've heard ... why guys believe certain things."

Other than to say it united his team, Fitzgerald was mum on the union. He said that he had talked to Kain Colter since the decision, but replied "Ha! No," when asked whether they talked about the union. He also said that he has yet to see a solution proposed in all the talk about NCAA change. When I pressed about whether there were solutions proposed — such as pay-for-play — that just weren't solutions he liked, he said that pay-for-play is not a solution, just a variable.