Pat Fitzgerald has accomplished quite a bit as the head coach at Northwestern. No, the Wildcats haven't won any Big Ten titles or made any BCS bowls under Fitzgerald, but given the school's football history, the fact that he consistently puts together winning seasons is nothing to take for granted. Plenty of other programs have noticed what the 36-year old head coach has done, and his name pops up quite a bit when it comes to coaching searches.
In fact, the word is that Fitzgerald was on Michigan's short-list to replace Rich Rodriguez, but he turned down an interview request. He's turned down a lot of interviews in recent years, showing a loyalty to the school he attended that Northwestern has noticed. Now it seems the school is looking to return the favor, as according to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern is working on a lifetime contract for Fitzgerald.
Toward the end of his Northwestern tenure, Ara Parseghian felt underappreciated — even though his final two teams spent time ranked among the nation's top 5.
Top NU officials are so determined not to let the same thing happen with coach Pat Fitzgerald, they are working on a lucrative and comprehensive contract extension that they hope will make him a Northwestern lifer.
It is expected to be formalized in the next few weeks.
Fitzgerald already has a deal through 2015, but athletic director Jim Phillips met with him in November and told him the school wanted to enhance it after the season — plus address any issues Fitzgerald had regarding NU's commitment to the program.Fitzgerald, who played linebacker for Northwestern during its last trip to the Rose Bowl in 1996, took over the program after the unexpected death of Randy Walker in 2006. Since then he's gone 34-29 in five seasons, leading the Wildcats to three bowl games.