Tag:Randy Walker
Posted on: May 10, 2011 12:21 pm
Edited on: May 10, 2011 1:20 pm
 

Northwestern signs Fitzgerald to 10-year contract

Posted by Adam Jacobi

As expected in a report from the AP yesterday, Northwestern announced today that head coach Pat Fitzgerald has just signed a new, 10-year contract that keeps him with the program through the 2020 season. The exact terms were not disclosed, and as a private university Northwestern is not obligated to disclose them, but Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Fitzgerald is signed for about $1.8 million per year.

"It is paramount for Northwestern football to have great leadership," said Director of Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips in a statement released today. "There is no better individual to lead Chicago's Big Ten Team than Pat. He is a tremendous teacher and truly values developing young men athletically, academically and socially. Our football program is having unprecedented success -- on the football field, in the classroom and in the community -- and that is due to Pat's outstanding leadership."

By inking Fitzgerald to this long-term deal -- one that looks like the first step of a "lifetime" contract -- Phillips and Northwestern reaffirmed their commitment to long-term stability in their revenue-generating sports. This is a two-prong strategy, both of which of are mandatory for this approach to work: patience and aggressively incentivizing success. The patience keeps coaches around even if their first few seasons aren't marked by meteoric rises in the polls, and the incentivizing (usually in the form of contract extensions) keeps them around when bigger-named schools start sniffing around at the first hint of success.

For example, in basketball, Bill Carmody is in his 11th year at the helm of the Wildcats' basketball program, and he's still never gotten them to the NCAA tournament. And yet, they've never gone at all, under Carmody or anybody else, so using tournament bids as a condition for employment would be wrong at a school like Northwestern. Phillips recognizes this fact, which explains why Carmody was given a contract extension this January, but most other schools without a history of success usually follow a pattern of firings or resignations every four years or so, and the cycle of futility usually continues unabated. You can't expect to build a successful program in four years. Sure, it can happen, but it usually doesn't -- there's far too much time spent on rebuilding. And now, as Carmody prepares for his twelfth season with Northwestern, that program is as strong as it's ever been. Think that'd be the case if there had been two or three firings between Carmody's hiring and now?

Similarly, Fitzgerald came to Northwestern as a 31-year-old with no previous head coaching experience, having been an assistant under Randy Walker until Walker's untimely death before the 2006 season. Since taking over for Walker, Fitzgerald is 34-29 in five seasons with no bowl victories. Ordinarily, a BCS coach who averages a 7-6 season and can't win a bowl game in three tries isn't going to get a 10-year deal made. But this isn't an ordinary BCS school, this is Northwestern. That may sound pejorative, but the fact remains that Northwestern hasn't won a bowl game in over 60 years, so just like with basketball, it would be wrong for Phillips to judge Fitzgerald on postseason successes at this point, and he knows that. Fitzgerald still needs time to keep improving the program and its track record of success, and giving Fitzgerald a 10-year contract sends the message to him, his players, and his recruits that Northwestern is granting him the freedom to do exactly that. That sounds intuitive and obvious, but how often does this type of commitment actually happen at the schools without strong athletic traditions? Think about that the next time you see one of those schools give up on a coach after 3-5 years.

Posted on: January 13, 2011 12:53 pm
 

Pat Fitzgerald to get 'lifetime' contract?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

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.  
Posted on: December 31, 2010 12:46 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 12:47 pm
 

Miami (OH) hires Michigan State's Don Treadwell

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Mike Haywood came to Miami (Ohio) and quickly turned the program around, leading the Redhawks to a MAC title this season.  Haywood then parlayed that success into a head coaching gig at Pitt, leaving Miami looking for a new head coach.

A new head coach it seems that its found.

The school announced on Friday through a press release that it had hired Michigan State offensive coordinator Don Treadwell to be its next head coach.  Treadwell has been serving under Mark Dantonio in East Lansing since 2007, and also took over the program for a few weeks earlier this season after Dantonio suffered a heart attack in September.

Of course, it's not just his coaching experience that likely helped Treadwell land the job.  Treadwell played football at Miami as a wide receiver from 1978-81, and also served as the school's wide receivers and running backs coach for two years under the late Randy Walker in 1992 and 1993.
Posted on: December 7, 2010 2:34 am
 

Indiana set to hire Oklahoma OC Kevin Wilson

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Reports out of Indianapolis and the AP are that by 3:00 p.m. Tuesday (or, unless you're on the west coast, today), Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson will be introduced as the next head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers following his interview earlier today in Bloomington. As mentioned before, Wilson was a protege of Randy Walker and Bob Stoops during 23 of his 25 years as an assistant coach. Thus, Wilson -- the 2008 Broyles Award winner for the nation's top assistant coach -- knows a thing or two about scoring a lot of points from the spread.

It's almost something of a wonder that Wilson chose Indiana for his first college head coaching gig; the Hoosiers have been to precisely one Rose Bowl (a 14-3 defeat at the hands of O.J. Simpson and USC in 1968), and no coach has ever surpassed the .500 mark in Big Ten play during his tenure at Bloomington in Indiana history. Even Nunavut seems less bleak this time of year.

The conventional wisdom, then, is to select a coach with a personal connection to Indiana's program so he'll be less likely to bolt at the first sign of success and an offer from a higher-profile team. To that end, Wilson's only connection to the Hoosiers is the time he spent with future IU coach Terry Hoeppner while both were assistants at Miami University in the mid-'90s.  But even that, the putative "nightmare scenario" of a coach bolting a team trying to build its way back to respectability, doesn't really happen at Indiana at all. The last coach to leave the school for greener pastures was Sam Wyche, who spent all of one 3-8 season with the Hoosiers in 1983 before taking the Cincinnati Bengals ' head coaching spot. Since then, it's been one firing after another with only Hoeppner's death before the 2007 season as the tragic exception to the rule.

Thus, if a coach comes to Indiana and achieves any level of success that would lead a better team to hire him away, that would necessarily be a step up in performance and results at IU. Really, Indiana's at the point where anything more than one eight-win season or two bowl bids before the coach leaves -- for whatever reason -- would be pure gravy. Thus, it makes sense to hire the coach who's most likely to succeed, period, and Kevin Wilson probably fits that bill.

From Wilson's perspective, meanwhile, this job probably looked a lot less attractive two years ago, and what changed in those two years has nothing to do with anything that happened at Indiana or even the Big Ten. The key event here was Gene Chizik going 5-19 during his first tenure as a head coach up at Iowa State (the Indiana of the Big XII, basically), and still not only landing the Auburn job but going 12-0 in his second year with the Tigers. Sure, Chizik had enough history with Auburn that if he'd stayed at Texas as the offensive coordinator for those two years, he might have gotten the job anywy, but he might not have. And really, the lesson here is that good teams aren't automatically considering a lousy record at a lousy program the poison pill that they used to. Nor should they, really.

So really, even if Wilson doesn't exactly get the Hoosiers back in the Rose Bowl hunt before he leaves, the odds are pretty good that this hire will be beneficial to both Indiana and Wilson. Thus, barring major transgressions on Wilson's part (which, considering his mentors through his career, seems awfully unlikely), this should turn out to be a good hire for all involved.

Posted on: December 4, 2010 4:22 am
 

Big Ten schools looking in-conference for coaches

Posted by Adam Jacobi

There are, as of now, two job openings in the Big Ten: Indiana and Minnesota. Those two programs are generally regarded as being among the three worst in the conference (Illinois being the third, but at least the Illini go to a Rose Bowl every now and then), so a head coaching spot at one of these places probably isn't going to be terribly attractive -- or a recipe for success -- unless the candidate in question is familiar with the Big Ten, its style of play, the recruiting grounds, etc., and wants to spend years and years in the conference.

It's no real surprise, then, that both Indiana and Minnesota are reportedly interviewing candidates from other Big Ten schools -- and really, both schools are looking at superb hires. Minnesota has reportedly interviewed Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst. You may remember Wisconsin's offense from such hits as 83-20 over Indiana, 70-21 over Northwestern , and 48-28 over Michigan. Sure, it's not like hiring Chryst is all it takes to get the Gophers dropping 50 on everybody that walks into TCF Bank Stadium, but at least they'd be getting a guy that knows how to do that at this level.

Meanwhile, over in Indiana, the Hoosiers apparently have their eyes on several coaches with Big Ten ties. Michigan State assistant head coach Don Treadwell is going to be the name that's most familiar to Big Ten fans, but watch out for Oklahoma OC Kevin Wilson -- previously Northwestern's offensive coordinator for three very productive years. Treadwell was the de facto head coach for Michigan State while Mark Dantonio recovered from his heart attack, and it's worth noting that the Spartans stayed undefeated while Dantonio was either out or operating in a limited capacity. If Treadwell was auditioning for a head coaching spot, it's hard to imagine he got anything but an A+.

Still, Wilson is considered the leader in this race, for whatever that's worth; if so, Indiana hiring away Bob Stoops' OC would be nothing short of a coup, especially considering Wilson was the winner of the Broyles Award for the top college assistant in 2008. He's got almost 30 years of tutelage under Randy Walker and Stoops, dating back to his college football playing days, and he's still only 49. Frankly, it's something of a surprise that Wilson hasn't been hired already. If he or even Treadwell is seriously considering a Hoosier offer, the future just might be bright in Bloomington. If, however, the interest isn't totally mutual and Indiana's forced to go the route of, say, Iowa OC Ken O'Keefe instead, well, that'd be just a little more depressing, if not exactly surprising.

 
 
 
 
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