Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald was one of the less touted names mentioned as a candidate in Michigan’s search for a new football coach. But before Michigan could talk to him, Fitzgerald has already pulled himself out of the pool.
ESPN’s Joe Schad reported on his Twitter feed that Fitzgerald plans to stay at Northwestern. Schad and Adam Rittenberg later reported that Michigan requested permission to speak with Fitzgerald, but the coach came back from a recruiting trip to meet with Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips to confirm his commitment to stay in Evanston.
Phillips confirmed Fitzgerald was staying at Northwestern when asked for comment during the Wildcats’ basketball game versus Illinois. (The story was also confirmed by the AP Thursday evening.)
Fitzgerald, 36, has been head coach at Northwestern for the past five seasons, leading the Wildcats to three consecutive bowl appearances. He took over the top job when Randy Walker died from a heart attack in June of 2006. His overall record at Northwestern is 34-29, with an 18-22 mark in Big Ten play.
It would've been interesting to see someone as young as Fitzgerald take the job at Michigan. What could he accomplish with greater resources in Ann Arbor? With his experience in running a spread offense, there may also have been an easier transition in working with the talent on hand. Had he been successful, who knows how long he may have stayed as head coach?
But from all accounts, Fitzgerald is happy coaching at Northwestern. He and his wife both grew up in the Chicago area.