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Off-Season Trial: Is Northwestern trending down?

[Northwestern fans everywhere reach for the bottle just reading that question.]


How are you? Enjoying Northwestern Week? I'm not. But that's not your fault, nor is it Northwestern's (for a change). I'm in Europe, so I have other things I'm enjoying waaaaaaaay more. As a disclaimer, I wrote this on Monday, so whatever has been discussed since Tuesday morning, I (1) don't care about, and (2) didn't take into consideration when penning this "article."

Anywho, we Northwestern fans have been "enjoying" a, oh, weekly debate or so on the trajectory of the program under one Pat Fitzgerald. Some point to his Big Ten record and say he's a failure. Others note the general trend of making a bowl game. You can look some of those debates up if you really want to see me losing my mind at stupid people. Or don't. That's probably a better decision, for a number of reasons.

So, my proposal? Let you, the commentariat, decide. Yes, I know how stupid an idea this is, because I'm sure we have Midwestern geography or tailgating dishes or something better to debate.

Below I've attached a number of graphs based on lazy Excel work I did. Since I am tired (when I wrote this) and can't change the graphs, gray refers to Northwestern's overall winning percentage, while purple refers to Big Ten (or Western Conference) winning percentage. I'll be back with thoughts in a moment:

Summary of Findings:

Northwestern football winning percentage, overall and B1G, 1948-present

Northwestern football winning percentage, overall and B1G, 1948-present

Northwestern football winning percentage, overall and B1G, 1992-present

Northwestern football winning percentage, overall and B1G, 1992-present

Sorry about the poor quality, but I feel as if those things convey the relevant information necessary to make the current decision.

So: Is Northwestern trending down under Pat Fitzgerald?


Under Pat Fitzgerald, Northwestern has seen generally declining win totals. Never better than a 5-win Big Ten season. No championships. No championship appearances. The 2012 season was little more than a blip on the radar, and now Fitz's inflexible recruiting and coaching standards have come back to highlight the consistent institutional flaws in the Northwestern model. Only until Northwestern accepts the greatness that is doing things like Stanford will the 'Cats actually achieve at a consistently high level.


Injuries and bad luck have determined the highs and lows under Northwestern, with 7-5 being the average under Fitz. In a year where about everything goes right, the 'Cats go 10-3. In a year where about everything goes wrong, the 'Cats go 5-7. Pat Fitzgerald has removed the bottom-out from Northwestern football, something which both Gary Barnett and Randy Walker failed to do. Having shored that up and brought Northwestern's recruiting onto a nationally-competitive scale, Fitz has earned a couple bad years and will have Northwestern bowling again in no time.


That's all I've got. My self-loathing is through the roof at this point, and my doctor has advised me to stop writing any further for my health's sake. Vote below, and give your thoughts in the comments.