-Fitz opened by noting a lack of energy from the press, before congratulating Jim Delany and welcoming Kevin Warren to the conference. He emphasized how proud he is to be reigning Big Ten West champs, but he noted that the team needs to take the next step and win the conference title.
-Asked about the impact of the new facilities thus far, Fitz thinks they’ve had a tangible impact on the success of the team in terms of performance and recruiting. “It’s amazing to think that we’re going into year two now. I think people want to go to school and get a great education, play for the staff that recruited them and they want to be supported, and to have the support that we have right now from a facilities standpoint, as you know, is something that we’ve never had in our program.”
-Fitzgerald talked about how thrilled he is to have Kurt Anderson as the new offensive line coach, saying he’s, “Excited to have Kurt as our offensive line coach and equally as excited for Adam Cushing to be the new head coach at Eastern Illinois. Kurt brings a new style. One guy is a University of Chicago grad in Cush, and Kurt is kind of more of a Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan, the Rock, you go on and on, Triple H. But he’s an awesome personality. The guys gravitated to him right away, and I just look forward to watching him continue to build that group with his stamp. Kush did an amazing job and now it’s Kurt’s turn.”
-Asked about Clayton Thorson and what he’s looking for in the next quarterback, Fitz was quick to praise the four-year starter. “Thorson was really underappreciated outside of our program, to be a four-year starter, overcome injuries, what I expect our next starter to be is the best person he can be. You can’t compare yourself to the last guy, just be the best [you] can be, lead the squad, take care of the football, and when the quarterback steps on the field, everybody that touches our program has to believe that we’re going to win because of him.”
-Fitz said there aren’t exact changes to be made in terms of preparations after winning the Big Ten West, but “If you get caught looking back you’re going to be on a collision course with failure.” He added that the team has to start faster.
-On the Big Ten’s lack of an appearance in the Playoff over the last two years, Fitz said, “We have to have some serious discussions. Until we get to a point where everybody that plays Power Five football and our Division I football plays the same amount of conference games and we put the strength of schedule and then obviously the value back on being a conference champion, as the two components that are the most important, I think we’re going to continue to have that problem.”
-Asked about the team’s lack of respect NU gets from national media, Fitz joked that he’s going to have Matt Foley come in and talk to the team about it. He added, “It is what it is. We’ll just continue to do that and control what we can control, but yeah, it’s always fun to read this time of year how we stink. I should actually get better at golf because I don’t know why I coach.”
You can watch the full press conference here: