Fitzgerald staying at Northwestern; signing new ten-year deal, per report

Pat+Fitzgerald+watches+a+play+during+the+Big+Ten+Championship.+Fitzgerald+signed+a+new+deal+keeping+him+in+Evanston+until+2030.

Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman.

Pat Fitzgerald watches a play during the Big Ten Championship. Fitzgerald signed a new deal keeping him in Evanston until 2030.

Greg Svirnovskiy, Sports Editor


Football


Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has agreed to a ten year contract extension that will keep him in Evanston until 2030.

The news was first reported by Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports.

The extension will likely put a kibosh on rumors that Fitzgerald is flirting with making the switch to an NFL job any time soon. After the Wildcats’ stunning 7-2 2020 season that included a win in the Citrus Bowl over Auburn, Fitzgerald drew heavy interest from the professional ranks.

A departure from the coach would have been devastating for a program which is dealing with the retirement of defensive coordinator Mike Hankwitz and Athletic Director Jim Phillips’ departure to become commissioner of the ACC. Instead, Fitzgerald is staying, opting for stability.

Fitzgerald, who took over at NU following the death of coach Randy Walker in 2006, will enter his sixteenth season as head coach of the program in 2021, making him the sixth-longest tenured coach in the FBS. He’s compiled a 106-81 record, revitalizing a football team that had long been spinning in circles before his arrival.

Northwestern’s victory in the 2013 Gator Bowl over Mississippi State was the program’s first bowl game win in 64 years. It also marked Fitzgerald’s 50th career win coaching the Cats. He nabbed his 100th career victory in the 2020 season opener against Maryland. Since 2013, Fitzgerald has led NU to four more bowl game championships, including a storybook come-from-behind takedown of Utah in the 2018 Holiday Bowl, in which the Cats at one point trailed by 17 before winning by 11 on the back of a 28-point third quarter.

In another indication of NU’s ascent under Fitzgerald: the Cats have won the Big Ten West division over the likes of Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota two out of the past three years.

Fitzgerald’s unprecedented success is why NFL teams, including the Green Bay Packers in 2018, have tried to pluck Fitzgerald away from Evanston. In early January, it was reported by Adam Schefter that Fitz was “open to taking NFL HC interviews.”

But now, he’s back among the purple and white for another ten years, to help Northwestern reach new heights.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @gsvirnovsky

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