Wildcats opt for pregame team nap

Updated: October 18, 2012, 10:56 AM ET
By Scott Powers | ESPNChicago.com

A 2:30 p.m. CT kickoff time Saturday has Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald turning to a morning nap to keep his players fresh against Nebraska.

After the Wildcats struggled against Boston College earlier in the season with a 2:30 p.m. CT start, Fitzgerald turned to the team's leadership council and asked why the players looked sluggish. He was surprised by the answer.

"They looked at me, and they're like, 'Well, Coach, it's nap time,' " Fitzgerald said with a smile. "I'm like, 'What?' They go, 'It's what time we take a nap.' I said, 'OK, fine.'

"I can show you a copy of our itinerary. ... We're going to get them up earlier on Saturday. We have a full team breakfast. Then on there, we have it in big and bold, it says, 'TEAM NAP.' And underneath it, it says, 'Mandatory.' "

Fitzgerald agreed to the plan, but he joked about it as well.

"So we'll be taking a nap at about 9:30 Saturday morning to make sure we're going to get our nap in, so we're in our comfort zone, and we'll feel good," Fitzgerald said. "Does ABC at 2:30 p.m. matter? No, our nap matters. I won't be napping, but 70 guys in the hotel will be.

"It's unbelievable. Seriously? This is what I get paid to do? You know what I mean? Great, nap time. Seriously? It's pathetic."

Northwestern junior quarterback Kain Colter helped devise the plan and doesn't expect to have any trouble falling asleep hours before a nationally televised game.

"Those hotel beds are really comfortable," Colter said. "Those pillows are soft. It won't be a problem for me. ... We'll come down fresh and get ready to kick some butt."

The Wildcats are hopeful to produce the same result against Nebraska as they did last season, when they upset Nebraska in Lincoln. Northwestern goes into Saturday's game with 6-1 overall record and a 2-1 mark in the Big Ten.

Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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