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Report: Michigan Had Strong Interest In Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald

At Brady Hoke's introductory press conference on Wednesday, Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon refused to take the bait when asked to detail the search process for a new football coach. Though we will likely never know the entire story, details about the search may leak out from time to time.

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For instance, we already knew that Michigan had some interest in talking to Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald. But before Brandon could talk to him, Fitzgerald had committed to stay in Evanston. However, the process may have developed further than just a cursory request for an interview.

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From the Chicago Tribune:

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Until now, it has been reported that Michigan merely made a third-party inquiry to Fitzgerald.

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The reality is that Michigan's interest in Fitzgerald was so sincere, representatives of the school laid out salary parameters, according to sources.

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On Jan. 5, hours after Michigan fired Rich Rodriguez, Phillips called Fitzgerald and asked him to cut short his Texas trip and return to Evanston. The next morning he met with Phillips and NU President Morton Schapiro and re-affirmed his commitment to the Wildcats.

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Teddy Greenstein goes on to cite sources that told him Michigan was prepared to offer a salary of around $3 million, more than half of what Fitzgerald is believed to make at Northwestern. For now, that is.

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Between Michigan's interest, inquiries by Notre Dame last year, and rumors of eventual pursuit from Penn State, Northwestern wants to do all it can to keep Fitzgerald. Though Fitzgerald apparently has no desire to coach anywhere else, the school has begun discussions on a long contract extension and facility upgrades intended to compel Fitzgerald to stay in Evanston for the rest of his career.

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This, along with the news that Les Miles has agreed to a seven-year extension at LSU, makes Brandon something of a rainmaker for coaches. (Jim Harbaugh's five-year, $25 million deal with the San Francisco 49ers could be included in this, too.) At least for those he wanted to talk to about coming to Michigan.