Who is Pat Fitzgerald?
|Born Name –
|Date of Birth –
|December 2, 1974
|48 years as of 2023
|Place of Birth –
|Midlothian, Illinois, U.S.
|American football coach and former player
|Years active –
|1993–1996 – Northwestern
Patrick William Fitzgerald Jr. (born December 2, 1974) is a former American football player and coach. From 2006 until 2023, he was the head coach of the Northwestern University Wildcats football team, and he had been a coach with the team since 2002. He was chosen following Randy Walker’s untimely death and revealed at a news conference on July 7, 2006.
He was 31 at the time, giving him the Big Ten Conference’s and NCAA Division I FBS’s youngest head football coach by five years. Fitzgerald would go on to become the longest-tenured head coach in Northwestern football history and the seventh longest-tenured head coach in Division I FBS beginning the 2022 season. He earned the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award as the greatest defensive player in college football twice as a linebacker for Northwestern from 1993 to 1996. In 1997, he received the Big Ten Medal of Honour, and in 2008, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Pat Fitzgerald’s Playing career –
Fitzgerald was a standout linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s, guiding the team achieve a 10-1 regular season record in 1995 and a spot in the 1996 Rose Bowl, the school’s second bowl game and the first since 1949. He was affectionately known as “Fitz” by Northwestern fans, and he embodied the Wildcats’ gritty, opportunistic defence.
He had eleven tackles in Northwestern’s win against then-No. 9 Notre Dame at South Bend, the Wildcats’ first win over the Irish since 1962. Fitzgerald led the defensive effort against #7 Michigan with 14 tackles (two for loss) in the Wildcats’ 19-13 triumph, Northwestern’s first at Ann Arbour since 1959. During the 1995 season, he averaged nearly 13 tackles per game on his route to consensus All-America honours. Fitzgerald, unfortunately, was unable to participate in the Rose Bowl after injuring his leg in the final game of the 1995 season against Iowa.
Fitzgerald returned for the 1996 season, guiding the Wildcats to a 9-3 overall record, a second straight Big Ten Championship, and the 1997 Citrus Bowl, their second consecutive New Year’s Day bowl.
He was twice voted Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and a two-time Consensus All-American throughout his playing career. Fitzgerald was the first person to win both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award twice, in 1995 and 1996.
In 1996, he also received the Jack Lambert Trophy as the nation’s finest linebacker. In 1997, he received the Big Ten Medal of Honour, which recognises one male and one female student from each Big Ten member school’s graduating class for displaying combined athletic and academic success during their collegiate experience.
After his senior year, he was not drafted, but he was signed as a free agent by the Dallas Cowboys, who dismissed him after only two preseason games.
Fitzgerald is the 15th player or coach from Northwestern to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. On December 9, 2008, he was honoured in New York City, and in July 2009, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana.
Pat Fitzgerald Coaching career –
Following graduation, he joined the coaching staff at the University of Maryland under head coach Ron Vanderlinden, who was Fitzgerald’s defensive coordinator at Northwestern. He subsequently transferred to the University of Colorado to play for Gary Barnett, his former Northwestern head coach. He worked at the University of Idaho before returning to Northwestern in 2001 as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator until his elevation to head coach following Randy Walker’s sudden death in June 2006.
Pat Fitzgerald Private life –
Fitzgerald was up in Orland Park, Illinois, and now lives in Northfield with his wife, Stacy, and three boys, Jack, Ryan, and Brendan. In January 2010, he acquired a $2.3 million freshly constructed house. Fitzgerald, a native Chicagoan, is a major admirer of the city’s professional sports teams, frequently tweeting his support for the Bears, Blackhawks, and White Sox. While Fitzgerald has led the Wrigley Field crowd in the legendary ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’ song during a Cubs game’s seventh inning stretch, he is a die-hard White Sox supporter as a South Sider.