After one of the best seasons in his tenure, Pat Fitzgerald earned another prestigious honor as he was announced the 2020 recipient of the Dodd Trophy, presented by the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
The award is college football’s most coveted coaching award and honors the head coach whose program best embodies the three pillars of scholarship, leadership and integrity while also showing success on the field. Created in 1976 in honor of legendary Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd, the award is selected by a panel of previous winners, national media, a member of the Dodd family and a College Football Hall of Fame member.
Fitzgerald led Northwestern to its second Big Ten West title and Big Ten Championship game appearance in three years this season. He also earned his 100th career win earlier in the year and helped his team secure its best bowl berth since he was a player over 20 years ago, earning a trip to Orlando to play in the Citrus Bowl on New Year’s Day.
In addition to his team’s on-field success, Fitz captained a team that showed the ultimate discipline this season and completed its entire Big Ten schedule without recording a single positive COVID-19 case. He has also led a group that excels academically, as Northwestern achieved a program-record of 69 players earning Academic All-Big Ten honors in 2020. For the fourth consecutive year, the Wildcats posted the highest Graduation Success Rate among FBS programs at 97 percent.
“Coach Fitzgerald truly embodies everything that The Dodd Trophy stands for,” said Jim Terry, chairman of the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Foundation. “He’s built the Northwestern program into a perennial contender in the Big Ten, while also achieving new milestones in the classroom and making a positive impact in his community. Coach Dodd would be honored to have someone win the award who carries on his legacy in the modern era of the sport.”
Fitzgerald was chosen over a group of highly respected finalists including Iowa State’s Matt Campbell, Cincinnati's Luke Fickell and Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly and Indiana’s Tom Allen, who won Big Ten Coach of the Year.
He joins a prestigious list of coaches to win the award including Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Bo Schembechler, Mack Brown, Barry Alvarez and his own college coach Gary Barnett, who was the last Northwestern coach to win in 1995.