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Pat Fitzgerald Videoconference Notes

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Northwestern’s coaches and players will address the media throughout the week. Fitz took to Zoom first.

Pat Fitzgerald addressed the media in press conference form for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began. Here’s what he had to say.

Opening Statement: “Really great to see everybody. Hope everyone is healthy and safe. Obviously, it is a very fluid situation not only at Northwestern but across the college football landscape. I unfortunately don’t have any concrete updates about our return to campus. Today, we announced two great additions into our football family with Peyton and Derek. Both guys were able to join our Zoom meeting last week as they matriculated into the program. Both guys will fill competitive needs. Excited to have them both. We’re wrapping up the spring quarter right now for our undergrads. A lot of working parts right now, but our number one priority is our guys’ health and safety, and we’ve communicated with them pretty much daily.”

On learning from guest speakers: “What’s their mindset? What are they doing now? How are they doing it? Just trying to give different resources to our guys.”

On mental training: “Trying to get as much mental training as we can so when we get back, we can really shift to the physical side. Number one, check in our their mental health and safety. Be there for them emotionally for them. Work through any nutritional needs they have, strength needs they have. Then getting into offense, defense and all that. I think it’s been well-organized. We’ve had really open lines of communication.”

On players hesitating to come back: “Our priority is on the health and safety of our guys. We will work through all decisions we make locally with the direction of our medical team. Especially in this first month of June, it’s on a voluntary basis. Having hypothetical conversations are a hypothetical waste of time. I will support our guys 100 percent no matter what happens.”

On Peyton Ramsey as a starter: “Whether it’s a grad transfer or a guy we’re recruiting, we’re bringing him here to compete to start.”

On convincing Peyton Ramsey: “We made the decision collectively that we were going to pursue taking a grad transfer. We talked to a handful of guys behind the scenes and decided that was what we were going to do. We put the ball into his court, and he made a decision really quickly.”

On using Zoom: “We’ve always used technology from a recruiting standpoint, but now I think some of the things we’ve learned at this time will continue on. You can get a lot done this way on Zoom.”

On his haircut: “I got my first one by Stacy. She did a good job. Then, I was in a region of the country for a couple weeks where I was able to get one.”

On the Bajakian transition: “I think it’s been a great asset for us. If not more than anything else, starting to build that relationship with the quarterbacks first and the offense as a whole. We’ve been able to take those parts and move it onto Zoom. I think that’s progressed since day one. Our coaches would’ve been all over the country recruiting.”

On the NCAA start date and injuries: If we’re not opening up the first of July, I think six weeks would really be beneficial. Based on the NCAA guidelines of avoiding catastrophic injuries, you need two weeks to transition to full workouts.”

On salary cuts: “We all have been asked to be great stewards of our resources. That obviously impacts the football program also. Just trying to work hard to be as nimble and forthright as we can.”

On TJ Green and Hunter Johnson’s injuries: “So far so good with Hunter, and I’d say the same with TJ. We haven’t worked out, but based on the reports from our medical team, a lot of positives.”

On the quarterbacks: “Last year is not going to be acceptable again. We need competition in that room.”

On the NCAA making a decision for the conferences: “Nationally, what you’re gonna see is what just happened. The NCAA is going to come out and say ‘We’re not going to tell you what to do locally.’ It’s voluntary in nature. I don’t see that changing. At a certain point, you’re going to have to raise your hand and say ‘I’m in.’”

On fairness: “The worst phrase ever invented: it is what it is. As long as recruiting stays what it is, I think there will be some fairness that comes out of this.”

On Kenosha: “I don’t know. Tell me when I’m coming back.”

On Big Ten-wide meetings: “The first week that this started, we were on spring break. We asked the Big Ten as coaches if we could start to meet weekly. We typically met monthly. That started off with the coaches and the ADs. That’s been going on now for seven-ish weeks. I think we’ve had really good open dialogue.”

On coronavirus impacting recruiting: “We can Zoom now with the family, and I can virtually be in their living room. There’s a lot of opportunity for growth from a relationship standpoint and knowledge standpoint. There’s no question that schools are putting more pressure on student athletes. You are going to see a large number of decommitments when this ends, no doubt. Kids and families are concerned that scholarships are being filled up.”

Tomorrow, offensive coordinator Mike Bajakian and defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz will address the media over Zoom.