A Brief History Of Pat Fitzgerald Getting His Soul Crushed Comment Count

Ace October 3rd, 2018 at 10:00 AM

[Bryan Fuller]

When you get a prompt this good, you use it.

As we've covered this week, Pat Fitzgerald has everything going for him to be difficult to dislike—local kid returns to alma mater in time of turmoil, runs a program that's historically bad, is funny and charming in press conferences when he's not saying batshit stuff about RPOs and communism, etc.—and yet, when you see him on the opposing sideline, it becomes pretty easy to find the guy obnoxious.

The feeling can be acute when Northwestern is unexpectedly winning and Fitzgerald goes full-blown cheerleader. Which is fine. It's fine. I'm not mad. This didn't bother me at all after one of the more miserable opening quarters in recent memory.

Definitely not mad, he said, while squeezing the remote until the battery case snaps.

Anyway, we never have to stay mad at Fitz for long, because his teams always find a way to gack it away to Michigan, usually in exceedingly comical/painful fashion.

[After THE JUMP, one man's emotional rollercoaster.]


For our purposes, at least, it started in 2012, when a personal foul on Michigan prompted Fitzgerald to display behavior normally reserved for contestants on The Price Is Right. 

His self-described "knucklehead" motivational tactic briefly paid off as the Wildcats took a late lead. To make Fitz sad, Devin Gardner—filling in for the injured Denard Robinson—would have to get a Borges/Hoke offense down a lot of field in not a lot of time to have a chance at a game-tying field goal. He accomplished that with the help of Roy Roundtree and the Hand of (Angry Northwestern-Hating) God, then secured the victory himself with a gallop to the pylon in overtime before Kenny Demens put a thunderous end to the proceedings. Let's check in on contestant's row.

Must've overbid.


Fitz got demonstrative encouraging this punt before doing the Charlie Brown walk when it turned out to be miserable shank.

For a man willing to exhibit such public lack of dignity, especially in a game to that point comprised entirely of field goals, he maintained his Jaw of Grating Confidence.

Just when it looked like the Cats would finally scratch one out, Drew Dileo powerslid into our hearts, and the game-tying fire drill field goal resulted in this brutal scene.

Yes, going 0-4 against Brady Hoke as a head coach will haunt you forever, and Fitzgerald knew that before he'd officially gone 0-3.


The infamous M00N Game. What depraved soul could get any joy out of the first half?

But of course.

To Fitz's credit(?), even he couldn't maintain a facade of positivity as this game proceeded into the second half.

It eventually ended in regulation with some points on the board. This was merciful for most. Not Fitz.

There is no mercy for a man who willfully employs Mick McCall.


A shutout buttwhoopin' so anomalous in this recent stretch that the wrong Northwestern staff member—Some Guy—ended up featured in the game's most memorable GIF, when Jourdan Lewis' ganktastic pick-six blew a random staffer's mind.

This unnamed man is clearly right for Fitzgerald's staff, and I presume is still on it, since I don't think they've abandoned anyone related to the program other than burgeoning union leaders since the mid-aughts.

Northwestern fandom: still better than it used to be!


Off the schedule. Fitzgerald compensates with a number of other brutal losses outside the GIF coverage of this blog.


Once again, it started well. One might argue too well, if they'd perhaps been through the experience of being repeatedly bashed in the soul-dong. Theoretically, you know. Someone who'd maybe been an All-American linebacker before becoming the coach of A Few Private School Kids' Big Ten Team. Hypothetically. He may look like this man.

You know, if he hasn't learned. Hypothetically.

You're on this blog this week. You've also been on Earth for the last several years, presumably, and still have some belief despite the bloodymindedness of a certain beloved local football program that past results are often predictive of future results. You know where this is going.

I should stop to explain, for those who haven't noticed, that gfycat assigns a random string of words as the URL for each GIF. The words appended to the above GIF's URL: ComposedFlawlessCats.

I'm worried gfycat has become sentient.

Anyway, other than losing to Actual Brady Hoke, this is pretty much the saddest way to end a football game.

All he wants to do is politely shake the hand of the opposing coach and leave the crowded field with cameras all over for a more private setting in which to unleash his frustration. Instead he's walled off by the team celebrating his squad's defeat.

Pat Fitzgerald, this is your life.



October 3rd, 2018 at 10:13 AM ^

That punt is amazing to behold. I don't know I've ever seen a punt net less than 10 yards other than that

I sort of want to feel bad for Pat, but then at the same time I know if he ever pulls one out against us he's going to whoop it up and probably take off his shirt to run around the field yelling. So I will continue enjoying the soul crushings he is receiving


October 3rd, 2018 at 10:14 AM ^

This marks a Decade without a loss to Northwestern. Especially with the East/West divide, that could really turn in to quite a streak.


Thank you for this, Ace. Made my day 


October 3rd, 2018 at 10:17 AM ^

He is a likable goofball and seems to get a lot out of his talent.  The GIF after the personal foul is epic. He wears his emotions on his sleeve.  

 I would have no problem sending a son to play for him.  


October 3rd, 2018 at 1:03 PM ^

As is the message, only get frustrated with him during the game, and that is even overblown.  He's cheering on his team, not sitting there yelling at the refs for an hour or doing other things.  I liked the composure of Lloyd Carr during a game, with very little reaction to a good or bad play.  This suits Michigan well, with the expectation to win, and act like you've been there.  NW is not Michigan, and doesn't need to act like Michigan.  I like the play of NW and Pat as their coach.  I also like Scott Frost at Nebraska.  He's going to say stuff I don't like, and make me dislike him, but that is what I love about college football.  I need to both hate and like you as the coach at both times.  It's weird.  

4th and Go For It

October 3rd, 2018 at 10:37 AM ^

Fitzgerald's Wildcat teams seem better in my memory than the record shows - perhaps its all these wacky games they play against us. I was surprised to see he's only 88-68 as a coach. While he usually coaches them to a 10 win season every couple years, they've had some real clunkers recently. SInce 2011 he's had three 10-win seasons and 3 seasons with 6 wins or less (along with a 7 win season and this year's 1-3 start). That's some real variance. Sort of like being really excited and then super disappointed.

4th and Go For It

October 3rd, 2018 at 12:19 PM ^

Yep  I thought it would be even better than that, just based on memory, as he's done such a good job in a tough scenario (small private school, tough academics, clean program) that it seems like they win even more than they have. Not a knock on Fitz or his achievements. My mental impression was just even better than they've actually performed as I dont really pay attention to NU football outside of the week we play them.


October 3rd, 2018 at 10:44 AM ^

fitz is an ethical stud in college football's sea of SEC/MSU/OSU/PSU fecal matter.  its okay to make fun of him, but in the end the guy is very good coach and he does it at a relatively tiny school (1/3 to 1/5th the size of the rest of the B10) which has real academic standards.   love the guy and when JH retires he's my pick to be the next coach at our school. 


October 3rd, 2018 at 10:58 AM ^

One could do a lot worse than have Pat Fitzgerald as the face of your football program.  Twenty games above .500 is immense success at a place like Northwestern.  Thanks for the perfect tone and entertaining take on his goofiness. 


October 3rd, 2018 at 11:06 AM ^

 And yet, when we were casting about to replace Hoke, we wanted to interview him for what I consider pretty good reasons.  It is a joy that the B1G does have a few non-cookie cutter platitude spewing coaches like Fitz and Jim.  It makes football more interesting and fun!👍


October 3rd, 2018 at 11:09 AM ^

No mention of the 2011 game at Ryan Field?  That's where Pat's soul got it's first crush. 

Northwestern led us 24-14 at halftime.  Denard had trouble connecting on some erratic throws and had some bad interceptions.  In the second half, we outscored them 28-0 to win the game 42-24.  It was the second straight week Northwestern had blown a double digit lead. 

Fitzgerald went ballistic in the 4th quarter after Jordan Kovacs went for the sack on Dan Persa, knocking his helmet off.  The play was called dead and Pat screamed for a facemask penalty, which he didn't get. 

19:56 in...



October 3rd, 2018 at 12:07 PM ^

I remember this. And I have no clue how that was not called a facemask, given that he grabbed the back of his helmet: 

ARTICLE 8. a. No player shall continuously contact an opponent’s face, helmet (including the face mask) or neck with hand(s) or arm(s) (Exception: By or against the runner). [S26}

b. No player shall grasp and then twist, turn or pull the face mask, chin strap or any helmet opening of an opponent. It is not a foul if the face mask, chin strap or helmet opening is not grasped and then twisted, turned or pulled. When in question, it is a foul.

Oh well.


October 3rd, 2018 at 12:01 PM ^

If this was happening to Fitz against any other program, I would feel bad for him. Alas, it's against Michigan, therefore I will do what I can to not enjoy his suffering too much.


October 3rd, 2018 at 12:12 PM ^

Thank you for doing this. I have had to explain my (probably irrational) hatred of Fitzgerald to other people. I know he's not a bad guy, and I'm not aware of any program issues he's helped sweep under the rug, so I guess I should appreciate him more.

But every single time I think of him I cannot but help think of that gif of him jumping up and down after the personal foul penalty in 2012. It's as if someone inceptioned that gif into my brain and I have this uncontrollable disgust with him due to it.


October 3rd, 2018 at 12:13 PM ^

Pat Fitzgerald literally has a square head.  I like the guy and I think he does a phenomenal job considering what he has to work with, but the guy’s head drives me nuts.  He needs a square headset. 


October 3rd, 2018 at 12:29 PM ^

I still have more respect for Pat Fitzgerald than most other FBS coaches, and more than most other Big Ten coaches - despite his ability to give us comical sideline GIFs (or maybe because of it?).


Also, if there were ever a compilation of "Great Moments in Otherwise Ugly Games: CFB Edition", the Dileo powerslide should definitely be included.


October 3rd, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

I have never felt any emotion towards Pat Fitzgerald. He was just another coach who didn't affect me either positively or negatively. After reading and seeing this, I am now a big Pat Fitzgerald fan. It's hard to explain..