Northwestern Staff Changes

Pat Fitzgerald will be leaving Northwestern for a role in an off-Broadway production of The Music Man. - Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

After a long period (7 years, I believe) with the same staff, Northwestern has made some changes this offseason.

1. Longtime assistant Jerry Brown retired: Brown is a remarkable figure in the history of the program. He played for Alex Agase on the last teams to post winning records before the Dark Ages, then joined the coaching staff under Gary Barnett. As a coach, he stayed for 24 years under 3 coaches. He had a brief (and unsuccessful) stint as the defensive coordinator from 1999-2001, but for most of that time he has been the defensive backs coach. His recent units have been mixed (usually good safeties and questionable corners), but as a man who was present for every winning season since Ara Parseghian's departure he will be missed.

2. Green Bay Packer assistant Tim McGarigle hired: McGarigle was a four year starter at linebacker under Randy Walker, holding the official NCAA record for career tackles (though official numbers only go back to 2000), and started out as a coach as a GA under Fitzgerald. While no title has been announced as far as I know, based on his previous experience and the positions remaining to fill I think he will be the linebackers coach, with current LB coach Randy Bates moving to work with the safeties.

3. Iowa State assistant Lou Ayeni hired: Ayeni is another Walker-era player and Fitzgerald-era GA. As a coach, he has been the running backs coach at Toledo and ISU, also carrying running game coordinator and associate head coach titles at times. He will be the running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.

4. RB coach and recruiting coordinator Matt McPherson changing positions: McPherson will be the cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator. ST coordinator is a new title under Fitz, with the units previously being split out among the assistants.

This leaves the staff as:

Mick McCall: OC/QBs

Lou Ayeni: RBs/Recruiting Coordinator

Dennis Springer: WRs

Bob Heffner: Superbacks

Adam Cushing: OL

Mike Hankwitz: DC

Marty Long: DL

Randy Bates: LBs OR safeties

Tim McGarigle: LBs OR safeties

Matt McPherson: CBs/ST Coordinator

From this fan's perspective, both new hires seem like a good use of Fitzgerald's connections to bring in young, up-and-coming coaches to a staff that tends towards the older side. Ayeni's units have been successful throughout his career, and he has a good reputation as a recruiter. McGarigle's previous college stints (at Western Michigan and Illinois) were reasonably successful, and he was reportedly well enough thought of in Green Bay for the Packers to be interested in retaining him even with the departure of Dom Capers.

Update: The official announcement is out for McGarigle, and it looks like he will have the safeties.