Big Ten: Kyle Petty
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Pat Fitzgerald wants you to believe he's an old guy.
|Tom Fluegge/US Presswire|
|Pat Fitzgerald said that being consistent is the next big step his program needs to take.|
"I'm going gray at 34," the Northwestern head coach often says.
The pressure of overseeing a Big Ten program might be taking a toll on Fitzgerald's follicles, but he's about as Gen-X as they come. While the Big Ten's oldest coach jokes about "Tweedle-dee" -- his term for Twitter -- the league's youngest head man has embraced technology, including the popular social networking Web sites.
Fitzgerald is active on both Twitter and Facebook, and finds both tools useful in communicating with recruits and fans. He finds Twitter a less-effective method to reach recruits, but it's a good way to keep fans informed. Facebook has been much more valuable in recruiting.
"E-mail is already a dinosaur," Fitzgerald said Wednesday. "That's the snail of technology. [Facebook is] where the young men are communicating, so you're able to communicate with them there. Our coaches are computer savvy and know how to do it."
In keeping with the communication theme, Fitzgerald took some time Wednesday to talk with me about the upcoming season and his expectations for Northwestern.
What are your top goals for training camp?
Pat Fitzgerald: First off, to solidify and identify our starters going into the opener. We do have this competitive depth, we do have the experience coming back. But as we get closer to game week, we'll start to finalize our approach. We're installing at a feverish pace. We're throwing a lot at the guys. They're handling it very well through the first two days, so identify the starters and then clean up our execution as you go into Year 2 with [coordinators Mick McCall and Mike Hankwitz], clean up the concepts.
Were you not able to do as much of that last year since there were so many new things?
PF: There was so much teaching going on with Mike and Mick and myself, teaching and coaching, the expectations we want on this play or we want on that concept. It was never-ending. We never felt like we had our heads above water through camp last year. But our players did a great job in being diligent and studying the playbook. That's why we improved each week.
Does it feel any differently because of who you are and what you played here that this program is becoming more known for defense?
PF: I don't know. We're not trying to emphasize one [part]. We're trying to win. It's a little cyclical. We want to be the best in everything that we do, and a year ago, we were very successful as a team. We improved in all three phases as the season went along. We went 3-1 in November, the road wins. We went down to Duke and there was a hurricane. A bunch of guys were getting IVs during that game. We found a way to get that done. The wins at Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, in as bad a weather as you're ever going to play in, those are some big wins.