clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Northwestern, Pat Fitzgerald, and Recruiting.

Northwestern’s got coaching stability for days, but do the ends justify their means on the recruiting trail?

Northwestern v Illinois Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Tuesday (Fish course): Shrimp DeJonghe

I don’t think we’ve ever talked about this dish on here before, and it’s a damn shame, because it’s delicious. I’m just going to c/p Wikipedia for your background on the dish and its Chicago origins:

Shrimp DeJonghe, a specialty of Chicago, is a hotdish of whole peeled shrimp blanketed in soft, garlicky, sherry-laced bread crumbs. It can be served as an appetizer or a main course.

It has the oldest pedigree of Chicagoan cuisine, having originated in the late 19th or early 20th century at DeJonghe's Hotel and Restaurant, 12 E. Monroe St. (1899–1923).[1][2] The recipe has been attributed to the owners, brothers Henri, Pierre and Charles DeJonghe, Belgian immigrants who came to Chicago to run a restaurant at the World's Columbian Exposition, or their chef, Emil Zehr.[3]

As there’s seemingly never a “New Coaches” piece to write on Tuesdays for Northwestern, let’s talk about the products delivered by those same old guys in charge:

In April 2017 24/7 penned this little number about Pat Fitzgerald’s “old fashioned” approach to recruiting. It included this gem:

Never mentioned alongside the likes of Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Jimbo Fisher because he typically recruits from a different pool of prospects, Pat Fitzgerald is one of the best head coach recruiters in the country not talked about.

“I’m not playing Xbox with the guys at night,” he said to 247Sports when asked about his recruiting methods.

The 42-year old Fitzgerald can’t imagine a situation where he’s creating a new personality for himself and a bells and whistles view of his football team on the front end only have to de-recruit a kid on the back end as true freshmen trying to climb the depth chart.

“You’re giving kids a false picture of what life is like when you get to college,” he said. “You’re not going to be playing Xbox with your position coach in college.”

Now that’s all well and good, but here’s how Northwestern has stacked up in the Big Ten since Fitzgerald has taken the helm:

.png because i dont get sbn table functions
Rankings courtesy of

Because it’s not a Northwestern off-season if we don’t wring our hands about the status quo at least once, tell us: Do those results justify Fitzgerald’s stick-in-the-mud recruiting ways, or is it time ol’ Fitz loosened up? We’re not asking for Full Harbaugh here, but does he need to embrace modern recruiting?

Finally, in honor of the DeJonghe Brothers and Northwestern’s sibling chains like the Vitales, Queiros, Dickersons, and historical ones like the Burtons: Tell us the First Football Family at your school.

WSR: As the owner of a shiny new coach that seems to enjoy recruiting more than nearly everything else in the world, I don’t think that Fitzy needs to change his ways at all! You keep doing you, Pat.

The first family of Minnesota Football? We’ve got quite a few to choose from as well. Najarians, Barbers, Leidners, and more. But I think the answer has to be the McNamaras. The impact that Bob and Pinky had on Gopher Football and the U community as a whole casts a huge shadow. Unique buildings aside, Bob was multi-year All-B1G, an All-American in 1954, and the two became successful enough in real life after football to throw enough money at the Football program to help get us out of the Metrodome. Can’t beat that, right?

GF: First of all, NW is very fortunate to not be Rutgers-terrible. Think how many odds are stacked against the Wildcats having a successful program? 20k fans at a game, higher academic standards, recruiting at a natural disadvantage...7 wins every year is an amazing, and usually surpassed, benchmark for NW.


MSU has a first family, of course I am referring to 300303 generations of the Bullough family.

The Wolverines have a nice Glasgow family squad.

JWS: There is more to recruiting than just stars by a 16 year old high school kid’s name. I think Fitzgerald does a very good job of getting kids that fit what he is trying to do.

His old school mentality is great for producing what I would call a very successful run at Northwestern. I highly doubt he is going to win any national championships, but a Big Ten West championship isn’t completely out of the question. What that mentality isn’t going to do is pull in a bunch of top 10 recruiting classes.

As for the first family at Ohio State, that’s a good question. I know there have been at least 4 father/son team captain combinations, and then the Griffin family produced several big names. I am going with Pepper Johnson and his son Dionte Johnson, simply because Pepper was one of my favorites when I was a kid.

Creighton M: This one is easy. Iowa has had its share of father/son combos to come up through the ranks (John and AJ/Zach Derby, Marv and Drew Cook, Eppy and AJ Epenesa to name a few), but at this point the name most synonymous with Iowa Football is Ferentz.

Kirk spent the entirety of the Reagan years as Hayden Fry’s offensive line coach before leaving for a brief stint at the helm of the Maine Black Bears followed by a few more years as Bill Belichick’s offensive line coach. In addition to spending all of this millennium as the head Hawkeye, Kirk has put 3 sons through the program.

The youngest, Steve, just wrapped up his senior year at Iowa. James was a 2nd team All-B1G center who went on to win a Super Bowl with Denver. Brian, the oldest, was Iowa’s offensive line coach from 2012 until January when he was named Greg Davis’ successor as offensive coordinator (Brian also spent 3 years on Belichick’s staff).

Truly, the Puntiff has created a family dynasty in Iowa City.

ZuzuRU: I don’t know about first, but definitely known among many RU fans and that had numerous family members would be the Simms brothers at Rutgers who started in the late 1950’s through 1960. Four brothers, Bob, Steve, Gene and Dick Simms. The former two were particularly great athletes for the Scarlet Knights. Bob Simms was a tight end, Steve was a fullback. In 1960, Steve led the team in scoring (Rutgers went 8-1 that year), which Bob did as captain in 1959, as well as led the team in receiving yards. This was the first time in RU history that siblings would achieve these feats back to back. Bob Simms had a short time in the NFL with the Giants and Steelers.

In the recent term, 2017 recruit, Bo Melton, a wide receiver, continues a family legacy. His father, Gary, played football for the Scarlet Knights and his mother played basketball. Additionally, Mohamed Jabbie (WR), nephew of Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers all-time leading receiver) enters his second year at Rutgers ready to make his own name known.

Stew: Fat Pitzgerald is a less successful, more annoying version of Kirk Ferentz. There’s no way he’s getting fired without some giant scandal. So the contract is a bit moot. Could be 10 years, could be 4, could be 100, I don’t think it would matter one bit. At the end of the day, outside of Happy Valley and Tallahassee, results on the field matter quite a bit more than recruiting rankings. And Fitz’s results do seem to merit the contract.

Kirk, Brian, James, Steve, and there’s even a son-in-law on staff. Truly, a punt of Ferentzii.

Townie: Northwestern isn’t in a position to be a recruiting juggernaut and maintain its elite, butler-served lifestyle. Lets face it, you are competing for the few really talented kids that could also attend Stanford.


Yep, you run a distant...distant second in that recruiting battle. So, mining the smart, elitist kids that can play ball is a tough nut. I think Fitzy does a decent job of finding kids that fit what he wants to do and can get the grades to stay eligable.

In all seriousness, Pat Fitzgerald graduates around 95%+ of his kids (Stanford graduated 99% in 2016). Let’s face it, most of the B1G doesn’t care about getting kids through school...just about keeping them eligable.

That Northwestern can field a decent football team and maintain a high level of academic success tells me that Fitzgerald is doing fine.

Besides, you aren’t going to beat Stanford, anyway.