Pat Fitzgerald responds to criticism of sideline antics

Submitted by unWavering on November 12th, 2012 at 5:02 PM

This ESPN article details what Pat Fitzgerald was thinking when he displayed that embarrassing behavior on the sidelines on Saturday.

"Our tone and our attitude on the boundary wasn't very good," Fitzgerald explained Monday. "It got pretty negative, we had some stuff go against us. So as a motivator, you've got a couple options. Sometimes, you've got to be a disciplinarian. Sometimes, you've got to be a guy who's going to give somebody a hug and be there. And sometimes you've got to be a clown and a knucklehead."

Personally, I think his explanation is a pretty weak one.  Being a motivator doesn't mean you have to be a knucklehead, especially since they were losing at the time and were benefitting from a personal foul call.

Bonus:  The article features this gif of Danny Hope, which is pretty hilarious.



November 12th, 2012 at 5:07 PM ^

I was annoyed when I saw him celebrating what I thought was a crap call, but being annoying is not the worst thing...If anything, it made Northwester look small - "we celebrate bad calls that help us win games against Michigan, because hey, we don't win games against Michigan very often." 


November 12th, 2012 at 5:51 PM ^

After Devin scored the go-ahead TD in OT, he danced toward the sidelines and Hoke gave him a chest bump, then they really started to whoop and holler. I was completely okay with it, including when Hoke did the breakdancing twirl-on-your-head move. Totally cool.*

*(Actually, Hoke grabbed his arm and had a word with him. I don't read lips well, but it was pretty clear he was reminding his QB that the game wasn't over and to cool it.)


November 12th, 2012 at 5:09 PM ^

He was in a big game. He was frustrated over not getting calls he thought they should have gotten. Did he act kind of dumb? Yes. Should this be that big of a deal? No. It's football. People take it seriously.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:12 PM ^

Maybe I'm reading it wrong, but that quote seems to me like he's basically calling himself a clown and a knucklehead - in other words, he's admitting that it was an inappropriate way to act.

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November 12th, 2012 at 7:44 PM ^

Had that same play happened on the opposite sideline, the tv cameras aren't trained on Fitzgerald, and nobody even thinks about it.

It is really interesting, how the television broadcasts affect post-game discussions.  There's a lot of power in the decisions of a director, and the suggestions of broadcast announcers.  Did the announcers say anything?  Because honestly, the people sitting on the east sideline didn't get excited at all about anything Pat Fitzgerald was doing.  If he was really being a dick, you just know that the crowd would be yelling; he's right in front of everybody including all of the folks around the tunnel entrance.  It didn't happen.


November 13th, 2012 at 8:30 AM ^

Look, I'm not saying it's a big deal. I thought iwas weird, nothing more. The director didn't "make a choice", Fitzgerald was standing right where the hit occurred, and the camera caught him jumping up and down with his hands in the air, immediately, when the flag went in the air. The announcers didn't say much, just sort of had a chuckle. The TV did nit exaggerate or enlarge his reaction - his reaction was what it was. Ifmyou didn't see it, it's likely because there were 30 players between you and him, or you simply weren't concentrating on him.

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November 13th, 2012 at 9:47 AM ^

I wasn't concentrating on Fitzgerald the way that the camera lens did.  And yes as I suggested, the camera lense was there because the play ended right at Fitzgerald's feet.  And, there is no doubt about what Fitzgerald did.  He jumped up and down; either four or five times by my count, with his arms extended.  I think the fairest explanation is that he was getting into the grill of the Referee, who was right in front of him and who appears to have gotten the message; "You guys have screwed us so many times in games with Michigan; you don't mind if I now celebrate this call going our way like it was a freaking touchdown, do you?"

In this case, I had thought that the penalty was marginal at best (Heitkamp only touched the Northwestern player when they were both in bounds, by my observation of the replay), but is the kind of thing that does get called in front of the 'innocent' team's bench, and especially when there is a splashy out of bounds collision on the part of the guy getting shoved out.

Of course, Fitzgerald was working the refs.  And as always, home-stadium fans are sensitive to truly bad antics of opposing coaches.  But on the east sideline, I at first thought it was an inevitable call as I watched it myself in real-time.  And there wasn't any chorus of boos that Fitzgerald was being a nut or that he had influenced the call.  Indeed, Fitzgerald only reacted to the call.  Only the replay showed it to be a more marginal penalty, and so I don't think anybody was surprised or ruffled by Fitzgerald.  The call was the call.   And the big thing was that it kept Northwestern moving the ball.


November 13th, 2012 at 10:34 AM ^

I agree with your point about TV affecting things from a high level, but I was at the game and when I saw the college football coach act like that (like a bitch, best way to describe), I was immediately happy we had not hired him and said so in my area.  People were asking what he was doing.  We were not watching TV.  We were loudly discussing what an idiot he was.  The call was marginal, but I cannot complain it was made.  I just expected more from him.  I did get texts immediately from friends watching on television commenting on the antics (again, he was acting like a bitch).  Not a big deal in the scope of the game.  A big deal to me if he was my coach (I have some high standards maybe).  It was weird and made the announcers laugh.  It was unbecoming of a coach, a coach I used to like and respect.  If this is his largest transgression, then he will be ok in my book I bet eventually.  But right now, he is a bitch.  Plain and simple.  Especially since he lost.

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November 13th, 2012 at 1:36 PM ^

So the tv announcers laughed?  I didn't know that.  I wonder if that is part of the perception.  Law profs in evidence classes love to do stuff like that.  Have a guy run into the class and grab something and run out, and then say to the class, "What did that guy with the curly hair just take?"  And then debate what was taken, and at the end have the guy return to the lecture hall and discover the guy had straight hair.  One of the older demonstrations of witness perception. 

So by the way, were you on the west side of the Stadium?

I once had the privilege of talking to Gary Moeller, before the the Stadium renovations were finished.  And I asked him about his possibly sitting on the east side, if he were asked to entertain University donors, in the Jack Roth Stadium Club to watch a game.  I asked him how weird would it be for him, sitting on the opposite side from where he coached and where he had watched all of the games from the old press box.  At first, he hadn't considered it.  Then he thought how odd it might feel.  I said to Gary that one of the things I like about the east sideline was getting the unfettered view of Michigan coaches along the sideline.  But the other thing with that is that they are so far away by comparison.  Being close to the visitor sideline, you can just about lip-read everybody on the opposing team.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:19 PM ^

from the article,

"I'm a really good knucklehead. I pride myself in that."

"Like I tell [my wife] Stacy all the time, you'll have to excuse my passion. Get over it."

Personally, I don't think it's that big of a deal.  Did it make him look dumb?  Sure, but it's not like he went over to Beyer and was all like "yaaaaahhhh booooooiiiiiiiii"!!!!!!



November 12th, 2012 at 5:13 PM ^

My problem is basically there's only two ways of interpretating it

  1. He's excited because he knows it was a bad call and the refs are possibly handing hime the game unjustifiably, or
  2. He's excited for the free first down, even if it comes from a player safety penalty that could potentially mean one of his players was seriously hurt

Either way it seems sorta D-bagish. I guess the takeway is I'm glad we have Brady Hoke.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:14 PM ^

because Pat Fitzgerald celebrates a penalty that goes against Michigan. On the other hand they want to call MSU big brother until everyone BUT us sees we're idiots. There's a certain level of. . . opacity here that, Bisby is right, never quite goes away. 


November 12th, 2012 at 5:15 PM ^

I question why he thought a personal foul for a late hit on the most important player on his offense was a good time to celebrate. He could have at least faked like he was concerned for his quarterback. Or he could act like all he cared about was the 15 yards and winning the game. He chose the latter and looked like a dickbag doing so. Face the consequences Fitzgerald.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:18 PM ^

He could have just said it was an intense moment in an important game and his emotions got the best of him. If he actually wants US to believe that his celebration was tactical he be crazy.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

Eh... I actually like Fitzgerald's sideline demeanor. He expresses every emotion that passes through his head. There's something strangely refreshing about that (especially coming from a dude who looks like a drill sergeant). And at least he doesn't publicly humiliate his players like Bo Pelini or Brian Kelly. 


November 12th, 2012 at 5:27 PM ^

It was a chump move and he should know better. You don't celebrate personal fouls on your QB like you just won the game. You shouldn't celebrate that stuff at all.

I have so much more respect for a guy like Tuberville who owned up to his sideline incident and said it was the result of getting heated and that it was unacceptable behaviour.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:48 PM ^

It was a personal foul in that it was a late hit, but it's not like the hit could have injured Colter or knocked him out of the game. If it had been a dirty play or if Colter had been hurt, I don't think Fitzgerald would have reacted the way he did. 

Blue in Yarmouth

November 13th, 2012 at 9:43 AM ^

Colter could have easily been hurt on the play. I am with the majority here in that I think it was a silly reaction, but couldn't really care less about it now. I do think however, that Colter could have easily been hurt on the play. He fell awkwardly into the players on the sidelines and injuries often happen as a result of such an occurrence.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

Its a little odd the way that he celebrated about it. I don't personally care, nor does it even bother me. The way in which he did it did make him seem like a little kid though.


November 12th, 2012 at 5:32 PM ^

What he wanted to say but couldn't without getting fined/reprimanded: "I was kind of upset at this point by the fact that we'd been called for a lot more penalties and been penalized for a lot more yards than Michigan.  This was my sarcastic reaction to this state of affairs."

Don't agree with his assessment or his reaction, but that's what's probably going on here.