Pat Fitzgerald changes public view of how unionization attempt affected his team


In an interview with the Chicago Tribune's Teddy Greenstein, Northwestern head football coach Pat Fitzgerald seemed to reverse course on how the unionization process impacted his team's play in 2014.

After repeatedly saying that the team was unaffected by the process and even that it brought them closer together, Fitzgerald recently told Greenstein the opposite:

Fitzgerald: "I look at the whole season; we were way too inconsistent. I look at where we were at this time last year: We were talking about a whole lot of things (unionization) other than football, and I really think that hurt our team... We had four months where we were not building a team. We were managing and educating a team, but we weren't building. And when we got into fourth-quarter situations, if we could have pushed guys a little bit harder (in the spring) and done some things better from my end, I think guys make those plays."

Greenstein: "You weren't able to build because you feel like the specter of unionization was hanging over — or you feel that so much time was required by your players to decide?"

Fitzgerald: "I don't think any team dealt with a bigger distraction than we did a year ago. We dealt with it fine, but I think it hurt our team's performance on the field. Why do I feel that way? It's a huge allocation of time. We only have so many hours to be with the guys, and we were taking the time to educate them on situations that had nothing to do with football. For me, that's the biggest tragedy for those seniors. Tragedy is a hard word, but that group will never get that time back. I look at a guy like Trevor who had a lot put on his shoulders. He and I haven't spoken about it, but I'm assuming his tank was on empty by the time he got to the season."