You ability apperceive Pat Fitzgerald absent the 1996 Rose Basin with a burst larboard leg, already got admired career admonition from Mike Ditka and ends interviews with “Hashtag Go Cats!”
But he has a lot added beneath the hood, including a atoning personality. For example, aftermost division Fitzgerald said about closing in on 100 victories at Northwestern: “Should accept done it a continued time ago. I bankrupt up a lot of games.”
Fitzgerald is 99-79 entering the Wildcats’ division opener Saturday night adjoin Maryland.
With the advice of ancestors members, accompany and apprenticeship colleagues, we complete a account of 100 “Fitz facts” that will let advice you annihilate opponents on trivia night in Evanston.
1. He collection a azure blooming Camaro at Carl Sandburg Aerial Academy in Orland Park.
2. Gary Barnett came in backward and talked him out of committing to Georgia Tech.
3. Fitzgerald became the Academy Football Hall of Fame’s youngest inductee at 33.
4. Illinois did not action him a scholarship.
5. Fitzgerald and his South Ancillary Irish parents visited Notre Dame on a recruiting trip. Quarterbacks drillmaster Tom Clements greeted him warmly, but Fitzgerald sensed the academy wasn’t all that absorbed — “you get a vibe” — and with several contest remaining, he told his parents: “Let’s go home.”
6. Northwestern exhausted Notre Dame to accessible the 1995 season, afterwards which Fitzgerald won the Nagurski and Bednarik awards as the best arresting amateur in academy football.
7. He throws (and fist-pumps) lefty and has done the first-pitch ceremoniousness at Wrigley Acreage at atomic 10 times.
8. He loves a acceptable key adhesive pie.
9. His aboriginal full-time apprenticeship job came at the University of Idaho.
10. Afterwards Fitzgerald was alleged Big Ten Drillmaster of the Year in 2018, the NFL’s Blooming Bay Packers pursued him.
11. CBS Sports NFL biographer Jason La Canfora wrote Fitzgerald would be “perfect” for the job. Packers President Mark Murphy already animated him to arch drillmaster at Northwestern in 2006. MyBookie.ag listed Fitzgerald and Josh McDaniels as co-favorites for the job at 6-1.
12. Fitzgerald brought up the anticipation at a ancestors dinner. He asked his three sons what they thought. The reply: No, we’re Bears fans. “OK,” Fitzgerald responded, “I assumption the altercation is over.”
13. The Sweet Sioux Tomahawk from 1949-59, the bays Illinois and Northwestern played for annually, is on affectation central a coffee table in Fitzgerald’s office. It was believed to be absent until 2015, aback Northwestern accessories admiral begin it in the basement of a fraternity that would be burst to assemble a dorm. The schools now comedy for the Land of Lincoln bays (aka The Hat).
14. His aboriginal basin bold achievement came adjoin Mississippi Accompaniment in the 2013 Gator. The Wildcats won 34-20 but at one point, Fitzgerald threw bottomward his headset, breaking it.
15. Sports business anchorman and memorabilia beneficiary Darren Rovell owns the bankrupt headset.
16. Afterwards victories, Fitzgerald hugs his father, Pat Sr., and says: “Love you, Pops.”
17. Pat Sr. is a retired operations administrator for the southern commune of Illinois for AT&T. He abstruse wireless telecommunications so he could advance on bold days, alive on the amusement to ensure bland communications amid Wildcats coaches.
18. Fitzgerald already joked that his dad was on a “week-to-week” contract. Note: Senior is demography this division off because of COVID-19 concerns.
19. Wife Stacy is the quintessential adolescence football mom, accepting operated the bold alarm and complete the covering for weigh-ins. Pat calls her a “rock star.”
20. Stacy grew up six blocks from Pat. She abstruse football by analysis him as he able for amateur at Sandburg.
21. Stacy is 24 canicule earlier than Pat, so she was able to drive first. On her 16th birthday, she best up him for a accumulation date to Dairy Queen.
22. Their aboriginal official date was to a Blackhawks bold at Chicago Stadium. Afterwards she complained she didn’t accept icing, a fan asked Pat: “Can you shut her up?”
23. Afterwards a action bankrupt out on the ice and Stacy cheered, the fan told Pat: “You can accumulate her.”
24. As a kid, Fitzgerald was bedeviled with Superman.
25. At age 3, he leaped headfirst off a accelerate and burst his skull. One doctor recommended conduct bowling-ball holes in his skull to abate pressure. The Fitzgeralds resisted.
26. He had to abrasion a hockey helmet for about two years.
27. Earlier sister Jacki assertive their mother, Florence, to let him comedy acquaintance sports. He bare to bake off energy.
28. Fitzgerald’s football idols growing up: Walter Payton, Mike Singletary and Dick Butkus.
29. His peewee football number: 72, in account of Carlton Fisk.
30. At Sandburg he wore No. 81 for Tim Brown.
31. At Northwestern, he chose No. 51 over 56: “I anticipation my bold was added like Butkus’ than LT’s (Lawrence Taylor).”
32. In 2013, Yahoo Sports listed Fitzgerald No. 5 amid “greatest academy players with quietest NFL careers.” The backstab first-team All-American linebacker never played a bottomward in the NFL, cut during training affected by the Cowboys.
33. Florence threw a activity aback Fitzgerald alternate from Dallas. She was never agog on his arena such a asperous sport. “I wasn’t invited,” Fitzgerald said of the affair.
34. Fitzgerald formed out for Ditka, again the drillmaster of the New Orleans Saints. Ditka put his arm about Fitzgerald and said: “It ability be time for you to put that Northwestern amount to use.”
35. Fitzgerald, with a 4.8 40 time, didn’t action him. “I couldn’t outrun an alligator,” he joked.
36. Afore accession at Idaho, Fitzgerald formed as a alum abettor at Colorado beneath Gary Barnett. The year: 1999.
37. One Buffaloes arresting aback was Ryan Chiaverini, co-host of “Windy City Live.”
38. Chiaverini said he and his teammates at aboriginal did not apprehend they were actuality accomplished by the backstab civic arresting amateur of the year. Fitzgerald had afford his arena weight and wasn’t mentoring linebackers. “He was aloof ‘Coach Fitz,’ ” Chiaverini said.
39. Chiaverini: “He was beloved, a 50-year-old man trapped in the anatomy of a twentysomething. He already had the drillmaster allege down.”
40. Afore entering coaching, Fitzgerald awash announcement for One-on-One Sports radio. Selling air did not absolutely blemish his itch.
41. Aback above Northwestern arresting coordinator Ron Vanderlinden became arch drillmaster at Maryland, he offered Fitzgerald a alum abettor job.
42. Pat asked Stacy for her opinion. She said: “Do what will accomplish you happy. I don’t appetite you to accept a midlife crisis.”
43. While at Maryland, he answered a bi-weekly ad for a fraternity “house dad.” The job paid $550 a ages and included chargeless housing.
44. He will about-face 46 on Dec. 2. He is a Sagittarius, declared as “optimistic, restless, accelerating and adventurous.”
45. He wakes up at 5 a.m., takes a quick battery and listens to music on his way to the office. His tastes ambit from Old Dominion to Bob Marley to Kane Brown to Darius Rucker.
46. He takes his coffee black.
47. Aftermost concert he attended: Luke Bryan at Wrigley Field.
48. Best concert he attended: Bon Jovi at Soldier Field.
49. He has 86 Metallica songs on his conditioning mix. Amid his favorites: “Wherever I May Roam.”
50. In academy he collection a Buick Regal dubbed “The Regal Beagle,” a advertence to the bar from the brawl “Three’s Company.”
51. Fitzgerald generally references TV shows and movies during account conferences. Borrowing from “Top Gun,” he calls players on the border of entering the calendar “flight-deck” guys.
52. He’s additionally fractional to “Tommy Boy” — “That’s gonna leave a mark” — and “Sandlot” — “You’re killin’ me, Smalls.”
53. He already joked about his bookish achievement at Northwestern: “I was a beanery in a drawer abounding of knives.”
54. In 2019, Northwestern became the aboriginal Power Bristles aggregation to column a absolute graduation success amount score. Aftermost abatement 57 of Fitzgerald’s players fabricated the Big Ten’s All-Academic team, acme in the conference.
55. His grandmother already hid his boots to anticipate him from arena in the snow. So he went out in slippers.
56. He accomplished his nieces and nephews to eat aerated chrism appropriate out of the aerosol can.
57. Although he loves dogs, he has no pets. Growing up, he said, “I anticipate we had a goldfish.”
58. In grammar school, his admired things to apprehend were Sports Illustrated and Dr. Seuss.
59. Fitzgerald additionally has a adolescent sister alleged Tricia.
60. Canicule afore Northwestern took on boss Ohio Accompaniment in the 2018 Big Ten championship game, Fitzgerald said: “My mom and dad anticipate we can get it done. My sisters apparently don’t.”
61. His sisters afterwards texted him: Yes, we do.
62. His aboriginal academy scholarship action came from Eastern Illinois.
63. He has had his advanced teeth agape out twice. During a ancestors barbecue, he advised a artificial bike as if it were a scooter and “ate concrete.”
64. Decades afterwards he was alive with acknowledgment man/running back/cornerback Jeravin Matthews. Standing a few anxiety from a Jugs machine, he formed a triangle with his hands. The brawl attempt through and hit him in the face.
65. And that’s why Fitzgerald’s advanced four teeth are implants.
66. Fitzgerald was in the stands at Welsh-Ryan Arena on a recruiting appointment aback Barnett apprenticed to “take the amethyst to Pasadena” at halftime of a basketball game. As he recalled it: “He had 7,000 bodies beam at him, but I didn’t. I was like: All right, assurance me up.”
67. He is the winningest drillmaster in Northwestern history — by a lot. Lynn “Pappy” Waldorf won 49 games, Walker 37, Ara Parseghian 36, Barnett 35.
68. Fitzgerald’s aboriginal achievement as Northwestern drillmaster was both aerial and sad. The 21-3 achievement came at Miami-Ohio on Aug. 31, 2006. Miami is area Randy Walker accomplished afore demography over at Northwestern and acceptable Fitzgerald’s mentor.
69. Two months afore the 2006 division opener, Walker died aback of an credible affection advance at 52. Fitzgerald was advance into the top role admitting not accepting been a coordinator. At 31, he was the youngest Division I drillmaster by bristles years.
70. Fitzgerald said at the time about the claiming of apprenticeship afflicted players: “As a competitor, you accept a bluff as a boxy guy. A amateur is never activity to aboveboard accept a weakness. As a communicator, you absolutely charge to pay absorption to that. They’re activity to beachcomber a flag; you aloof accept to accomplish abiding your eyes and aerial are accessible … Aback they charge a hug, you charge to accessible up your arms. And aback they charge a kick, you charge to bang them in the britches. At the end of the day, they still appetite you to be their coach. And you still charge to be demanding.”
71. Fitzgerald fabricated abiding Walker’s convenance plan would endure. A grease lath from the 2001 division with Walker’s autograph has never been erased. The lath resides in a agents affair allowance at the Walter Athletics Center.
72. Fitzgerald said the aboriginal division was chaotic. “I was aloof aggravating to get through lunch,” he said. “I told the university: You won’t accept to blaze me. I’ll footfall away. The affairs agency that abundant to me that I don’t anytime appetite to become the acumen why we’re not accepting success.”
73. He said of his aboriginal contract: “It was like a three-year accord alike admitting it was appear as a five-year deal. It’s like starting a restaurant — you get 36 months.”
74. Michigan pursued Fitzgerald in 2011 afore hiring Brady Hoke. Able-bodied administrator Dave Brandon offered $3 actor a year, which would accept about tripled Fitzgerald’s salary.
75. Fitzgerald met contiguous with Northwestern able-bodied administrator Jim Phillips, President Morton Schapiro and donor/trustee Pat Ryan. He pitched a beach ability that would “integrate” the football aggregation with the apprentice anatomy and actualize a first-rate on-campus training ability rather than the characterless one a mile away. Ryan afterwards alleged it a “visionary request.”
76. The $270 actor Ryan Fieldhouse/Walter Athletics Centermost opened in 2018. Above Tribune sportswriter Skip Myslenski dubbed it the “Fitz Carlton.” Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel alleged it “the nicest able-bodied ability in academy football.”
77. Afterwards Northwestern rallied from 20-3 bottomward to exhausted Utah 31-20 in the 2019 Holiday Bowl, Fitzgerald appear that Northwestern will be “home forever.” So abundant for leverage.
78. Best anyone can tell, Fitzgerald has been advisedly artful with the media alone once. He said he “fully expected” Dan Persa to alpha the 2011 opener at Boston College. Persa didn’t dress while convalescent from a broken Achilles tendon.
79. Kain Colter led Northwestern to a 24-17 victory, afterwards which Fitzgerald said: “There’s no grand-master scheme.”
80. Fitzgerald hates talking about injuries. And the character of his starting quarterback. Afore the 2018 opener at Purdue, he said the abstruse would be safe until 8:06 p.m. ET, anon afterwards kickoff. At 8:12, Clayton Thorson trotted out in a knee brace.
81. Afterwards the 2013 season, Colter alleged the NCAA a “dictatorship” and attempted to unionize the football team. Fitzgerald was admiring … to an extent. During a Civic Labor Relations Lath hearing, Colter, who was 3-for-3 in authoritative the All-Big Ten Bookish team, alleged: “We’re basically not accustomed to agenda things that battle with football practice.”
82. In testimony, Fitzgerald accustomed accepting alleged academy football “a full-time job” for players but said they are acceptable to leave convenance aboriginal to appear class.
83. In bounce 2011, Fitzgerald became one of the aboriginal academy coaches to move convenance to the morning — 7 a.m., about — to allay chic conflicts. Many of his players had afternoon labs, and his alum acceptance had black class.
84. Fitzgerald rarely has to conduct players. An exception: All-America acknowledgment specialist/back Venric Mark, who was abeyant and again removed from the aggregation in 2014 afterwards actionable aggregation rules. Fitzgerald, though, accustomed him to acknowledgment as a recruiting abettor in 2016. Mark now works in that role for the University of Texas in his home state. “Life is about how you respond,” Fitzgerald said. “I’m appreciative of him.”
85. Fitzgerald loves adage “stats are for losers” but was an aboriginal adopter of the analytics now broadly accustomed in academy and the pros. Northwestern went for it on fourth bottomward 32 times in 2016. The abutting division it was 39 — angry for the aerial amid FBS teams.
86. He already had a astringent acknowledgment afterwards bistro shrimp on a flight.
87. Ancestors associates say he “has never had a acceptable tan in his life.”
88. Fitzgerald started 23 career amateur and totaled 299 tackles, 20 for loss. He affected bristles fumbles and intercepted three passes. The 1995 Wildcats led the nation in scoring defense.
89. He diagnosed his season-ending abrasion in 1995.
90. Afterwards an Iowa amateur cut-blocked Fitzgerald, a trainer marched assimilate the acreage and said: “You’ll be OK.” “No,” Fitzgerald replied, “I bankrupt my (expletive) leg.” He burst his abate too.
91. He appeared in uniform, on crutches, on Bob Hope’s All-American TV appropriate in 1995 and said: “Merry Christmas, Bob.”
92. Jay Leno arrive the aggregation to “The Tonight Show” during their Rose Basin trip. During a skit, teammates affected to backpack Fitzgerald beyond the departing of the red sea. Alum Charlton Heston, who played Moses in “The Ten Commandments,” chipped in.
93. Fitzgerald loves the TV appearance “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and enjoys bistro at bounded spots on the road. One example: Melt, in Cleveland. Said Adam Cushing, now the drillmaster at Eastern Illinois: “He ate an astronomic sandwich followed by a huge banquet at a recruit’s home.”
94. He already abandoned Luke Donald, the Northwestern alum and above apple No. 1 golfer from England. “He already came to my abode and me, not alive American football, I questioned why the blame teams aren’t better,” Donald said. “In rugby we bang from the ancillary and accomplish it like 95% of the time. I said: ‘Maybe you charge to appoint a blame coach?’ He blew me off.” Fitzgerald recalled his acknowledgment as: “OK, thanks.”
95. During a midweek account appointment in 2013, Fitzgerald answered the buzz of a anchorman who had larboard his corpuscle on the belvedere as a recording device. The drillmaster said: “Hey, Graham, we’re in a columnist conference, buddy. You’re activity to accept to alarm him back. OK, go Cats. Bye-bye.”
96. He was beneath affable aftermost division afterwards actuality asked about the abhorrent bold plan. “Well we aloof booty 90 hours and comedy Wii in golf all week,” he said. “I accept there are 40,000 experts on Twitter that can alarm plays for me. My email abode is ‘hashtag I don’t care,’ so shoot that out. Anybody that is negative, I account it and I don’t care.”
97. He created nap time for his players, a 9:30 a.m. catnap so they would be beginning for their 2:30 p.m. bold adjoin Nebraska in 2012. “Unbelievable,” he said. “This is what I get paid to do. Seriously. Actualize nap time. It’s pathetic.” The underdog Wildcats played able-bodied afterwards their cat nap but absent 29-28.
98. He created date night for his abettor coaches, acute them to absorb time with their wives or ancestors associates on Thursdays. Fitzgerald all but bliss his administration out of the appointment to ensure they’re not working.
99. Chiaverini’s career took him to Chicago in 2006, Fitzgerald’s aboriginal year as Northwestern’s coach. “I’m activity to hit you up,” Chiaverini told him afterwards the two hugged. “You know, Chev,” Fitzgerald replied, “I can’t be arena favorites.”
100. Chiaverini said Fitzgerald mentioned accepting him over for dinner. Fourteen years afterwards … “I’m still cat-and-mouse for my invitation,” Chiaverini joked.
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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