Big Ten: Chris Farley
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Pat Fitzgerald's mantra this season has been "Flush It," a phrase the Northwestern head coach borrowed from a book written by former Pacific Lutheran coach Frosty Westering.
Whether the Wildcats win or lose, make a big play or a critical mistake, Fitzgerald demands that they "flush it" and move on.
But after Saturday's error-ridden loss to Indiana, Northwestern needed more than a two-word pick-me-up. Not only did the Wildcats commit five turnovers in the game, but they lost starting running back Tyrell Sutton to a major wrist injury and starting quarterback C.J. Bacher to a hamstring injury that could keep him out this week.
When the players reconvened, Fitzgerald told them to "flush" the game. But he also found another way to recharge the team for this week's trip to No. 17 Minnesota (ESPN2, noon ET).
Fitzgerald called upon the man living in the van down by the river.
"I brought in a special motivational speaker this morning," Fitzgerald deadpanned at today's news conference. "They took to him pretty well. Matt Foley spoke to the team this morning. So I think we're doing fine."
Foley, of course, is the fictional character portrayed brilliantly by the late Chris Farley on Saturday Night Live in the early to mid-1990s. Farley died in 1997, but Fitzgerald brought Foley back to life by showing the team clips from the hysterical SNL sketches.
Northwestern's campus borders Lake Michigan, so perhaps Foley relocated his van down by the lake?
"I don't know," Fitzgerald said, smiling. "He says river."
Lightening the mood could be a good strategy after such a damaging loss, but Northwestern will need a sharper focus against Minnesota.