Northwestern's Pat Fitzgerald: Lack Of Consistency In College Football 'Definitely An Issue'

Northwestern will be sidelined with the Big Ten canceling football this fall.

Mully & Haugh Show
August 20, 2020 - 11:49 am

(670 The Score) Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald has been in a football training camp every August since 1982. But he isn't now.

The Big Ten made the decision last week to call off fall sports, including football, during the coronavirus pandemic. The decision has drawn plenty of criticism, especially as conferences like the SEC, ACC and Big 12 prepare to play this fall.

Fitzgerald admits he's struggling to grasp the decision and the lack of transparency that came with it, he told the Mully & Haugh Show on Thursday morning.

"Well, it's a tough time, no question," Fitzgerald said. "There's a ton of uncertainty. (Players) have done everything that we've asked them to do here at Northwestern, from a social decision-making standpoint. We were here for almost 10 weeks. The guys just did a terrific job being disciplined and getting prepared for the season. And then to have that abruptly taken away, there are quite a few guys, especially our seniors, that are really looking for answers, really frustrated and hoping to continue to have an opportunity to play. It's been a really challenging time.

"Health and safety is the No. 1 priority. It always has been, and it always will be. I don't think you're going to hear one of the 14 coaches in our league ever have an issue with a decision being made based on health and safety. We'd just like to hear the why behind it and help understand so we can help educate our players and create some solutions going forward.

"The lack of consistency (in college football), yeah, it's definitely an issue. When you look at Power 5 football right now, it's very fractured and it's obviously fractured. I've seen a lot of things that have been said at other leagues and I'm not sure they don't have the same challenges that we have."

Purdue coach Jeff Brohm created a plan for college football to be played in the spring, which remains a possibility for the Big Ten. For his part, Fitzgerald favors the idea of starting training camp this winter and playing early in 2021, which would allow the resumption of a normal football calendar for a fall season as well.

"What our focus should be is to do everything we can to have fall of 2021, next training camp and beyond, try to get back to normal," Fitzgerald said. "And if we can move forward as far back as we can to be able to have a modified season in the winter, I think that's something we can definitely do if we work with our doctors and talk about being really intelligent and smart.

"If we can work with our medical staffs locally and then as a conference and move something up potentially to have something in the winter instead of spring practice, I think our guys would be pretty darned excited about that."

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