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Big Ten Media Days 2017: Pat Fitzgerald Press Conference Notes

Northwestern’s head coach talked about his team’s continuity and new facilities.

Pat Fitzgerald was the second coach to speak at Big Ten Football Media Days from McCormick Place in Chicago.

  • Pat Fitzgerald opened his speech by welcoming Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck and thanking the media for attending.
  • Fitzgerald emphasized how the final nine games of the season helped build momentum for the Pinstripe Bowl and this year’s team.
  • According to Fitz, Northwestern and its staff “are the unicorns of college football,” because of their continuity.
  • “We’ve had the same staff together going on 8 seasons...that continuity is what great organizations, great football teams have.”
  • Northwestern will practice at Hutcheson Field on Lake Michigan for training camp.
  • Fitz thanked the administration for his new contract extension and his student-athletes for another excellent year academically (leading the conference in APR, GPA...etc.)
  • Fitzgerald discussed the NCAA changing preseason practice rules. He said that Northwestern had only done about 8 two-a-days in his time thus far so that wouldn’t affect his program.
  • Northwestern will not be using the one-week early practice waiver from the NCAA and will be starting training camp a full week after summer school ends. This is apparently later than most teams.
  • Fitzgerald talked about a lunch he had with P.J. Fleck about 10 years ago. It happened. That’s all you need to know.
  • “When you got men’s basketball and men’s football in a really good place, it makes things exciting.”
  • Unsurprisingly, Fitz said it was better to win bowl games than to lose bowl games.
  • On replacing Anthony Walker Jr. — “You’re never going to replace a player like that.”
  • As expected, Nathan Fox and Paddy Fisher will be the leaders in the contest for middle linebacker. However, Fitz also mentioned that senior Brett Walsh has grown into a locker room leader in the position group and complimented Nate Hall, Warren Long, Jango Glackin and others.
  • Fitz talked about the marketing campaign surrounding the #homegrown slogan and his pride for Orland Park. However, he also clarified that his job was to coach football and that he didn’t really care about the marketing.
  • Fitzgerald said the Big Ten or NCAA should consider investigating repeat offenders - or repeat team offenders - of the targeting rule.
  • “You can look it up on blog sites, I’m not allowed to talk about it, but you can see that our recruitment is at an all-time high. They want to see commitment from the university and fans.”
  • “I think the word "culture" gets overused. I think that's in every leadership book now in the world. I think if you bring the right people in you've got the right type of environment and you've got the right guys, they're going to own your program. And that's got to come from the locker room out.”
  • Until I think I'm done coaching, that's the model I want to have. I want to have our program player-run and player-owned. And when we get recruits around our young men, that's really our number one selling point. Now to have the facilities on top of that, to be able to compete, it gives us an opportunity to get a young man maybe we never had the chance to get. So it's a game-changer.
  • He thinks the new lakeside facilities are “one of the last pieces of the puzzle,” and “gives us the chance to get a young man we might’ve never had the chance to get.”
  • Here’s a full transcript of the session.