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The HashtagIDontCare mailbag

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This is the best of the Inside NU community.

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Northwestern Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

In Pat Fitzgerald’s weekly press conference, he snapped back at a question regarding the offensive gameplan by claiming that his email address (for those who have suggestions to send his way) is “hashtag I don’t care.” It isn’t out of the norm for Fitz to use a retort like this, but this one gave us a path for...content!

Our former EIC and now thriving real-world journalist Henry Bushnell gave us the idea to allow the Inside NU community to do exactly what Fitz offered, and create hashtagidntcare@gmail.com (unfortunately the full version was already taken, presumably by Fitz).

Thank you everyone for your submissions, gripes, InsideNU complaints and everything in between. We received over 40 emails, and that’s what makes this community and role so fun. Unfortunately, it would be too long if I put all 40 messages in here, but I tried to get a diverse set of submissions included. Initials are used for privacy. Without further ado, here is the hashtagidntcare@gmail.com mailbox.


I’m an incoming freshman and the performance of the football team put a serious damper on the spirit of the the entire class of 2023. The administration told us that we were gonna be great this year and that we were Big Ten West champs, so everyone was psyched for the game on Saturday. But as soon as NU failed to punch it in from the 1 on four straight attempts, the whole crowd was demoralized, with most of them leaving by halftime.

-JE

A common theme among the messages we received from newer fans was that the team was hyped up and was expected to play like Big Ten West champs. That’s not an easy feat, but it’s clear to see that there’s a real sense of disappointment for those who didn’t really know what to expect. That failure to meet expectations certainly could be an issue with regards to continuing to attract new fans. But the good news is, if previous years are any indication, the next two months will be much more fun.

Why should I, or anyone else in purple spend 200 dollars on a ticket to watch them lose to Ohio state, Fitz doesn’t care to fix the offense, why should any of us care to watch that game in particular?

-NL

On the fence about the 4 hour drive to Lincoln. Do I hashtag care about spending a day supporting a team that ranks close to dead last in offensive efficiency?

-SW

What’s the ROI of improving the fan experience at Ryan Field if the on-field performance is bad and boring? I’d rather be washing my car…or tailgate at my house and then stay home and watch any other game but NU.

-DW

This is something that Fitz brings up constantly, and there’s two sides to the argument. Yes, Northwestern fans don’t fill out Ryan Field, and a majority of students tend to tailgate and opt to not attend the game, but sometimes can you really blame them? The performance on Saturday was really hard to watch, and if that becomes a trend rather than an aberration, you can expect some very empty stadiums. Again, this is where a failure to meet expectations can actually have a significant impact on the program.

I want to preface this by saying how much I respect Pat Fitzgerald and the incredible job he has done to make Northwestern a relevant program in the Big Ten. The fact we are having this sort of conversation to begin with is due to the work Fitz has done over the past 14 years to make Northwestern into a team that can have the types of expectations we have every year.

However, there is no doubt that the Wildcats have grown stale on offense and that comes with the lack of turnover in the staff. It is troubling to me that three of the five offensive coaches on this year’s staff were in the same positions they were in when I was in school five years ago given the struggles of the offense in recent years. If Fitz were truly self-reflective after this season, he would see that it is time for a change in offensive scheme moving forward and make some changes to those position groups.

-JW

I don’t exactly relish the opportunity to criticize a coach who has done so much for NU but I’m also getting really tired of his “old man yells at clouds” shtick.

Fitz is the oldest 40 something coach I’ve ever seen and his willful ignorance at introspection continues to hold this offense back year after year. He has now taken to mocking anyone who disagrees with him over offensive tactics and his I Know Best routine is getting really old.

-DK

In times like these, it’s always important to note just how good of a job Pat Fitzgerald has done with this program. JW does a great job of noting that our expectations are raised because of the success he and his staff have had, but this increased scrutiny is what naturally companies that, which I’m sure he would agree with.

It’s also fair to say that failing to acknowledge consistent struggles in a particular area is frustrating to fans. While most of us would love to see a change to some of the assistant coaching positions, especially at offensive coordinator, I just can’t see it happening in the near future. Loyalty is important to Fitz, and Mick McCall has incredible job security because of it. On that note:

FIRE MCCALL

-THR

What is left to say about Mick McCall at this point? Those 40,000 twitter experts may not know anything about calling plays, but neither does Mick McCall.

-RB

Mick McCall is clearly incompetent, and it’s time for his reign of terror to end.

-BS

There’s a fundamental dishonesty in continuing on with McCall after making clear you’re an NU lifer in San Diego. If you’re a lifer, you aren’t in the business of playing-it-safe job preservation staffing decisions. You are treating the program as you would your own child. It’s bigger than you, and it sure as hell is bigger than one assistant coach.

-BW

Now that we have that out of the way:

A good play caller puts his players in position to succeed, and adapts when things aren’t working. McCall has shown over ELEVEN YEARS that he is incapable of both. In his twelfth, he’s at risk of squandering the best QB recruit the school has ever had. Whether or not Johnson is that guy remains to be seen, but in order to figure out whether or not he is, he’s got to go. He’s got to go he’s got to go he’s got to go.

-JL, Twitter expert

Okay, due to the fact that over 75 percent of the emails pertained to McCall, I wanted to add this one too. This was a really weird offseason for the NU quarterback room, and it’s carried over into the season. JL is right that on paper Hunter Johnson is the best quarterback recruit (though attained via transfer) this university has seen.

But the coaching staff hasn’t figured out how to integrate the playbook to his strengths and create success. It’s going to be VERY interesting to see how the play calling and complexity surrounding it progresses as the season goes on.

Finally, last, but far from least:

Thank you again to everyone for participating in this fun experiment. Go ‘Cats!