This past Wednesday, our Henry Bushnell and Ben Goren sat down with Pat Fitzgerald to record a 47-minute podcast. The full podcast was released Monday. Subscribe, download and listen on iTunes, or listen right here:
A few highlights
Henry: [Ben] is 0-for-4 on Bingo cards. I know you were aware of it the one press conference.
Fitz: Oh, you guys continued to do that?
Henry: Yes. We got progressively worse.
Fitz: Well you got the carte blanche to have some insider trading, why wouldn't you have found a way to get me what I needed to say? I woulda taken care of it for you.
Henry: You mentioned how fandom has changed, I think another way it's changed is that it's become more analytical. And maybe we're guilty of this, imposing all these advanced stats on fans. And one of the things the advanced stats say is that your team, when you break down those 13 data points into every single play, or every single drive, you guys weren't as good as your ranking said you were, and therefore you guys as a team were somewhat fortunate to win 10 games. Do you think that's total BS? Or do you think there's something to that?
Fitz: Well, number one, I don't care. [...]
You'll have to listen to the pod to hear his full answer.
Fitz (when asked about how much his experience as a player translates to his coaching): When I got here, the coaches were great, the problem was me. I found this thing called college that was, like, really cool. I was an amazing video game player. I totally made out with my pillow, and was lazy, and was in love with her. My pillow was the sexiest woman... I talk to the guys about that all the time. I talk more to the guys about my first two years, and the things I did wrong, and I have the pain of regret about, than [techniques in the weight room] or whatever.
Recruiting and social media
Henry: Has Twitter helped or hurt Northwestern, and the things that are unique to you guys, in any way? Because I assume to one extent, you can reach a wider audience and control your message more, but on the other hand, Northwestern has a smaller fan base, and a less crazy fan base than other schools.
Fitz: Well, I don't think we're getting a kid because a fan sends him an emoji. I have not had that ever come up in a recruiting conversation. I have had some families say, "Their fans are crazy. Borderline scary." When you really look at the big picture of all this, if I were sending DMs to 16-year-old girls, I would be a stalker. So it's a little bit sketchy. I think deregulation in recruiting is a dirty word. I think it should be even more regulated. [...]
Fitz spoke at length about the fake relationships engendered by the current recruiting atmosphere, and how he and his staff do things differently than others.
Towards the end of our discussion, we cut to a lightning round. Ben went rapid-fire and shot 19 questions at Fitz, including "Is Joe Flacco an elite quarterback?" and whether he prefers #FitzShorts or a sweatshirt and pants. Below are the questions... Can you guess Fitz's answers?
You'll have to wait to listen to the full podcast tomorrow to hear Fitz's actual answers.
Fitz: We gotta get Ryan Field rocking. I get asked a lot, "What do our fans need to do?" You need to show up... We need to turn that into an environment that it needs to be and it should be. I would say our success on the field is kicking our success in filling up the stands. And that's not a knock. We need to do it collectively, we need to do it together. That's the big next step. We're coming off the heels of 10 wins, so let's fill it up. These guys deserve it. The players deserve it. They've earned that.... I know we've got an unbelievable loyal core group, but they've gotta do some recruiting for us.
Henry: I think unfortunately part of it is, the 11 a.m. game when it's 20 degrees in November, it's just tough...
Fitz: So what if I said, "Well I'm sorry, it's an 11 a.m. kick and it's 20 degrees, we just didn't feel like playing today." What do you think would happen to me? [...]