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Will Northwestern football EVER get over the Rose Bowl hump?

Or is too much stability under Pat Fitzgerald breeding contentment?

Northwestern V Southern California

Wednesday (Entree): Chicken Vesuvio

Yeah, we could serve you up some iconic Chicago pizza hotdish, but that just seems a little patterned at this point, and Northwestern over the last 5 years has been anything but, going 10-3, 5-7, 5-7, 10-3, and 7-6.

Instead, we’re going to mix it up with some more Chicago innovation, the Chicken Vesuvio (that’s a recipe you’re going to want to try. The fiance was very happy with me). Invented by Italian immigrants to the Windy City and perfected by Vesuvio Restaurant on E Wacker Drive, it’s a delicious way to mix up a standard traditional chicken-and-peas dinner.

With that said, and with Pat Fitzgerald secure in his coaching gig at Northwestern through 2025, we want to ask you if you think this s a sign of complacency, a sign of Doing What Works, or something in between. Can Pat Fitzgerald ever get Northwestern over the hump and win a Big Ten Championship? Why or why not? And tell us if you think your program is too complacent, too rash, or somewhere in between.

[ed. note: we’ve also got talk on the NU defense coming tomorrow. Our profuse apologies for leaving out the reason the 2015 team did not finish 1-11.]

Townie: I like Fitz, because I have a soft spot for linebacker play...he was a pretty good one. I think he is a good fit at Northwestern, in terms of his vision for the program. Does that come down to competing for the B1G Championship every year? No, it doesn’t.

As we touched on earlier in the week, Northwestern isn’t recruiting the same kids as Ohio State and Michigan. Northwestern needs kids who can read and write...who come to play school as much as football.

That said, the smart kids should be competitive in the West, periodically. They have to be able to win the games against Nebraska and Wisconsin. And for the most part, they have been.

Two years ago, Northwestern was second in the West. Their two losses were blowouts by Michigan and Iowa.

Last year’s team under-performed. There’s no way last year’s squad should’ve lost those two non-con games. There was too much talent to excuse a 7-6 record. That’s on Fitz.

To make a long-story nauseating - yes, Fitz can win the West. He was close in 2015. But he’s going to have a tougher time going forward. Nebraska, Iowa, and Wisconsin are always going to push him...or whoever coaches the nerds.

ZuzuRU: I actually have no major opinion on Pat Fitzgerald or his football coaching abilities. When I think about him I actually think about THAT hysterical article posted by Black Heart Gold Pants back in 2015. But I’ll answer the question. Sure, yeah. He could get Northwestern over the hump. He’s young. I say yes only because he “has time” and as Townie said, he has had a close moment in the past.

Candystripes: Can Fitzy ever win the Big Ten? Yeah, I think with the right schedule it could happen. Do I expect it to happen any time soon? No, but that’s more on the fact that to win the conference, the Cats will have to beat whoever the best team* from the East is in any given year, which is a tall task. (*Note that “best” in this case is used to represent “first place finisher”, which as we’ve seen is not always “actually the best team in the division.”)

And lol at you if you think I should even seriously consider Indiana’s chances of winning the Big Ten in football this millennium.

WSR: Giving a coach that’s never won the West a Ferentzian contract is an interesting approach. I’m sure this means that he’ll beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl, but a division title might be asking too much. It’s entirely possible, but I’m going to have to dismiss it based on the grounds that Minnesota fans and Northwestern fans are required by law to look at each other on the schedule and assume that it’s a win. If you can’t beat us, how will you win the West?

Aaron: Fitzgerald has won 10 games at Northwestern twice during this decade, so a Big Ten title isn’t out of the question, especially when coming out of the West Division. I mean, we’ve seen Fitzgerald teams beat Wisconsin and Nebraska before, and once the division is secured, he just needs a fluke win over one of the East heavyweights to earn that Rose Bowl bid and become a coaching legend. It wouldn’t even be that surprising if all that happened this season.


Do you like Pat Fitzgerald?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    I love Fitz. Go ‘Cats!
    (76 votes)
  • 16%
    He’s aight, but he needs to win a title soon.
    (27 votes)
  • 8%
    I have no opinion.
    (14 votes)
  • 18%
    He’s a mediocre-at-best football coach buoyed by low expectations.
    (30 votes)
  • 8%
    I hate him with the intensity of a thousand broken Stanzi legs.
    (14 votes)
161 votes total Vote Now


What’s Northwestern’s ceiling through 2025 with Pat Fitzgerald?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A national championship playoff.
    (11 votes)
  • 40%
    A Rose Bowl appearance.
    (70 votes)
  • 31%
    A Big Ten title game appearance.
    (54 votes)
  • 20%
    Enjoy the Outback Bowl, suckers.
    (35 votes)
  • 1%
    I am a bitter Illinois fan and Northwestern will implode any day now.
    (3 votes)
173 votes total Vote Now