One topic that arose in a breakout session, after Fitz was done at the podium, was the trend of tougher schedules for Northwestern. Specifically, he touched on the importance of strength of schedule as opposed to the historical baggage that comes with being Northwestern.
Fitz hopes SOS is more important than being "sexy." Concerned about those like NU who have to "overcome a stigma."— Inside Northwestern (@insidenu) July 28, 2014
Northwestern has made a point to add a little more beef to its non-conference schedule recently. This trend is highlighted by a home-and-home series with Notre Dame. The Wildcats visit South Bend this upcoming season, while the Fighting Irish are scheduled to come to Evanston in 2018.
Additionally, NU and Stanford have announced a series that will begin with a home-and-home in 2015 and 2016, and then will be re-ignited in 2019.
These two non-conference series are on top of what Fitz believes to be an already strong Big Ten West. Monday, he noted its strength by pointing out that four of the division's seven teams -- Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska and Minnesota -- had eight or more wins in 2013. That stat might be a tad deceiving, but nonetheless, the West should be very competitive in 2014, and presents a tough task for NU.
Fitzgerald intimated that he hopes that, should NU have an extremely successful season either this year or further down the road, a stronger schedule could be what vaults the Wildcats into the nascent four-team College Football Playoff. Additionally, his hope is that being an historically inferior program wouldn't contaminate that onerous schedule in the minds of the selection committee.
Fitz is nothing if not ambitious.