Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald Talks New Practice Facility And How He Became Head Coach

George Ofman
August 27, 2018 - 7:37 am

Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- Go Cats!  It’s been his signature since he took over Northwestern’s football program over 12 years ago.

Pat Fitzgerald has not only established a winning program at the Evanston campus but a winning attitude, as well.

“We have great young men and they’re typically our best recruiters," said Northwestern University football coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald doesn’t completely shy away from taking credit for the rise of success at Northwestern.

In part one of a three part revealing portrait of the 43-year-old head coach with WBBM Newsradio, the engaging head coach discusses the brand new practice facility on the lakefront, how he evolved as a student at Sandberg High School to a fateful moment in 2006 when he replaced the late Randy Walker as head coach. He took a call from then assistant coach Jerry Brown.

RELATED: Part Two: Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald Shares Where “Go Cats” Came FromPart Three: Pat Fitzgerald Looks Forward To New Season, Ready To Put On A Show

“I selfishly thought it was a joke, because Jerry was a practical joker. Then our goal was to lift up the Walker family,”  he said.

But Fitzgerald had to notify players before they might see it on TV.

“It was a whirlwind of emotions.”

One week later Fitzgerald accepted the head coaching job.

“Obviously my dream role, but under the worst set of circumstances you can imagine.”

Fast forward to his 13th season and an opulent, partially glass enclosed practice facility facing Lake Michigan. 

“I don’t think words can describe the Ryan Field House…it’s almost an infinity indoor facility. At first it was a distraction. Now it’s the new norm," Fitzgerald said.