“We have nothing to hide. We have a great group of young men that practice the right way and love improving fundamentally,” Northwestern Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald told the media at Big Ten Media Days.
That's in reference to the fact that he keeps his practices open to the media, one of the very few programs in college football that maintains this policy. Fitzgerald was very glib and entertaining today when discussing his relationship with reporters too.
Not only is Northwestern accessible to the media; Pat Fitzgerald said his program is open to playing anybody in college football, anywhere.
“Our schedule, there’s no question we’re not afraid to play anyone,” Fitz said.
“We went into the season last year playing three BCS teams in the nonconference and had great success.”
"Great success" as Borat would say.
So why keep practices open to reporters when other schools are paranoid about secrecy?
“If you want to see the back of my hair stand up, it has all to do with effort. I get pretty demonstrative on the practice field when I don’t see guys giving 100% effort. It’s funny, we bring our students out sometimes, and they’ll say ‘om my gosh Kain Colter threw three interceptions at practice today,’ I think that’s pretty good.
Because we probably put a new concept in at practice that day and obviously he didn’t get it, we didn’t coach it very well, or we need to throw that dang play out. That’s what practice is about,” Pat Fitzgerald continued.
Pat Fitzgerald also brought up his infamous “Irish temper” that can flare up when his players act like lollygaggers, jackanapes or loafers.
“If a guy doesn’t give a great effort and I take a piece of his hind-parts, I don’t really care: I’m Irish-Catholic. I’ll go to mass on Sunday and I’ll repent for my sins, but I’ll have no problem taking a piece of a guy’s heiny, if that’s a corrective action that has to happen and the guys know that’s the way I am,” Pat Fitzgerald summated.
“It’s a lot of fun, it’s very competitive and it’s a great teaching environment.”
Northwestern is one of just two schools in the Big Ten to hold preseason practices off-campus. NU is in Camp Kenosha. Illinois is in Camp Rantoul.
Fitzgerald was interesting and entertaining when holding court with the group of reporters that followed him out after his time on dais. Every Big Ten Coach takes the podium here in Chicago; then reporters follow him for more Q&A in the adjacent room afterward. Fitz was more colorful with the cadre than in the ballroom. What I found most interesting is that the group of journalists following Pat Fitzgerald out was about three or four times the number following Tim Beckman.
And of course whenever you have the Northwestern media contingent at work, you wonder who the Sun-Times beat reporter will be; since they change their NU beat writer once every two weeks.
Fitz talked about working with the student media.
“We are a college. This is a classroom opportunity for our students to grow. We have the #1 journalism school in the country. No offense guys, you better bump it up! We got some students coming! I think it’s great for me to learn with them, and see those students when they shut off the camera and be like ‘you’ve asked me the same question three weeks in a row, and you may have noticed I haven’t answered it at all. You may want to come through a different window, try a different direction,” Fitzgerald said.
“And it’s fun for me, and we have a great story to tell.”
And since I finished typing this story up, the Sun-Times has probably once again changed Northwestern beat reporters.
And yes, those Northwestern journalism students are INDEED COMING! ALL CAPS!
With Rovell and Doyle, there's nowhere to go but up in both situations.
Note: I would have typed some of that sentence about the Medill Journalists being #1 in ALL CAPS!!! But Beckman has kind of stolen Fitzgerald's ALL CAPS thunder lately. Go here for the Northwestern football season preview
Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)
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