Fitz Files & Venric: Media Must Sees

Fitz talks to Quinn Evans at PSU '12

This one will be brief.  Yesterday, we went to great lengths to show our respect and admiration for Venric Mark. Well, tonight, you get that behind the scenes look at the fan favorite as he is one of the featured storylines in BTN’s The Journey.  The weekly show premieres tonight at 8pm et and you’re going to love the Venric piece.

Separately, I recently stumbled across a feature titled “NFL Films:Pat Fitzgerald” as I was camping out at Northwestern Highlights private page. It is a 10-minute feature, apparently done after the 2011 season, that goes in-depth in to Fitz with a ton of behind the scenes footage I have never, ever seen – both with the Dallas Cowboys tryout and at practice. I’m imploring you to take 10 minutes to go and watch this video. The frustration with the three blown losses this year and the several in 2011 are fair game and Fitz would tell you so to your face. However, I feel that this piece, this feature, does more to show you why I want the guy here forever and may remind you about what really matters.  NU should use this feature for every parent that sets foot on campus thinking of having their child play for Fitz. It will do in 10 minutes, what takes four years for some to figure out elsewhere. I have met dozens of players and parents over the past five years and I know you read this site regularly. I invite you to post a comment (even though many of you told me you never will) or email me at laketheposts@gmail.com so you can weigh in on whether or not this feature does Fitz justice.

Again, Fitz will be the first to tell you he deserves criticism for this season – we’ve got a lot to clean up – in-game coaching, end of game mentality, ya da ya da ya da. I’m not asking you to be a Pollyanna, I’m asking you to take 10 minutes and watch this piece so you can be reminded what makes NU different and why we should support the school, hold the program to a higher level, BUT, and this is key, do OUR part to help improve the program by bringing as many people to the purple party as we can.

Enjoy: PASSWORD: NFLFilms

  • bandcat

    If you live in the area or get a chance to go to the Spring practice game at Ryan Field do it…Fans get to meet the players on the field. Venric and Kain were great ambassadors that day for the program..all the Cats we met terrific kids…Crush Sparty!!!!!

  • cebpd

    Funny how the guy mentions Bill Bates in this video, and Hunter Bates, his son, plays for NU!

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Great catch!

  • CatInTheHat

    Wow–very difficult to be negative about Fitz after that video. That said, there are two things that seem to be holding this 2012 team, and probably the program as a whole, back from where it could and maybe should be: conditioning and killer instinct. Unfortunately, both are products of coaching.

    From a skill perspective, I think Fitz is getting all he possibly can out of the talent he has. However, the blown leads and the apparent relaxation late in the game on D are indicators that something is deeply flawed in the way that this coaching staff is managing game preparation.

    If you ever saw the movie “Miracle” or any other account of the Miracle on Ice 1980 U.S. hockey team, the point is stressed over and over again that Herb Brooks knew that he did not have the most talented team in the tournament, so to compensate, he also knew that he absolutely needed to have the best conditioned hockey team in the world. Similar principle applies to the ‘Cats. I don’t think Fitz should go anywhere, but unless he realizes that some of these games that should be W’s end up being lost before they start because of poor physical AND mental conditioning, we are going to be between 5-7 and 8-4 (with the occasional 9-3) every year with nary an opportunity at a conference title or a big-time bowl victory in sight.

    • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

      Agree with you on killer instinct, could not disagree with you more on conditioning. I’d put us in the top 4 programs in the B1G in terms of conditioning.

      • DT

        Cat In The Hat is right… How in the world can you say Northwestern is in the top 4 of Big Ten programs in terms of conditioning? The “D” was gassed last week and had nothing left in OT… Further, inexplicably the offense has not played up tempo to the extent they have the last 2-3 years, when it was obvious their conditioning was superior to Iowa for instance… The game of college football has spead up with the success of Oregon and NU was hip to that early on as well… We have slowed down tempo on “O” for some reason… Zone read and option are optimized at that increased tempo… I’m going to conclude, some of that is conditioning, particularly how the Wide Outs meander back to the huddle or line of scrimmage after a route..

        Finally– I think NU has killer instinct and will to win at levels more than sufficient to actually win! It is strategy and implementation that bog down, not heart or stones… I’d give Fitz credit on the latter as well… It’s his game prep and management that break down, not his
        heart or certainly will to win.. I’d never question that about the man, or any team he coaches… In the final analysis, “killer instinct” is a strong will to win at levels greater than the opponent… I don’t think that is the problem…

        CatInTheHat– In that you mention Brooks.. Not a current football player in America that could could endure the workouts of Herbie at The U or in The Olympics.. Got a bit softer in the NHL in that pros did not buy in or work as hard…Herb’s Minnesota teams were amazingly conditioned… As depicted in “Miracle” he took it to another level with that special group of kids…

        • http://twitter.com/LakeThePosts Lake The Posts

          The fatigue has come from our “D” being on the field the entire 4th quarters in the losses, b/c the offense can get a first down. When we are up on people and move the ball – see Vandy, Iowa – you can see us wear down other teams. The killer instinct that is missing isn’t the will, it is the conservative play-not-to-lose approach of clock watching and playcalling.

          • DT

            Fair enough… I think it all links together in some way… The way we try to milk the clock and go conservative, effects tempo, that effects TOP, that has the D Back out, blah,blah, blah… All in all, what we are both saying it is approach and game management. Probably cultural as well… Also, I just shake my head at special teams prep and implementation… Pardon my repetition, but watching that punt go up on Saturday sent me back into Jeremy Maclin mode… That stuff just should NEVER happen at this level in a competitive bowl setting ala The Alamo or in a huge conference game ahead with 20 some odd second left at The Big House… Implementation and game management… Where does the buck stop? Call it killer instinct if you wish I guess…

          • NUARANINETYFIVE

            Agreed!!

          • CatInTheHat

            I will buy that, since you are around the team and see them practice presumably a great deal more often than any of us do. However, the lack of ability to close is extremely disconcerting. I don’t follow other teams day-to-day, but I don’t know that there is another team in FBS whose fans can say with confidence when leading by double digits in the fourth quarter that the team is going to lose. Period. I’m losing count of how many times I’ve said to my seatmate or whomever I happen to be watching on TV with that “I’ve seen this movie before. We’re losing this game.” Friends who are new to the ‘Cats always look at me like I’m nuts, only to express how amazed they are when the prognostication ultimately comes to pass.

            If they are so well conditioned, then I don’t accept the notion that the D is too gassed to play the last 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. I just don’t. Something else is wrong. Yes, we know that our secondary is suspect and that our corners aren’t as explosive as most of the receivers that they cover, but if the corners were the issue, then opponents would be airing it out all day long and hanging Oregon-like numbers on us each week. That doesn’t happen, so we have to look at end-of-game strategy. Admittedly, I didn’t see the game on Saturday, because I was stuck working and only had the ESPN gamecast on my phone. However, from what I can piece together, we were once again done in by the prevent D, which doesn’t work–not in college, the NFL–nowhere. We’ve been burned three times this season by the prevent D, and yet the coaching staff continues to use it when carrying a lead deep into the fourth quarter. This destroys confidence and stifles…cliched though it may be..the killer instinct that almost any other team would be able to summon to put away their opponents in these situations.

            It just boggles the mind. This could have been such a special season for us, and instead, here we are, wondering once again in which also-ran bowl we might have a chance at ending The Streak. It’s just sad.

          • DT

            CatInTheHat- Agreed and I share your sentiment as well… I will buy into LTP’s explanation of the “D” being gassed last week as well per the scenario he explains in that case, but in no way accept his rather off the cuff proclamation that NU is among the Top 4 in the Ten in terms of conditioning… Based on what? His observation?

            In terms of Fitzgerald, I would never question his heart or will to win. That said, I will continue to question his ability to lead a BCS football program from 40-50 level performance into Top 25 level. Seven years is an eternity in the business of college football and based on the progress of 08-09, looked like he was getting the job done and truly moving the needle forward. Has certainly not progressed, and all the Bleeding Purple, graduation rates, a team that stays out of the police blotter, and saying the right thing to the press as benefits NU still does not negate the fact, the team cant’ close big games under Pat and he lost more than he has won in almost 7 full years in The Big Ten Conference… Of course, we have the post season record as well… Would say, a ten year contract at a couple million a year does not create much creative tension for Good Ole #51, and the personal comfort zone, supported by a small group of vocal but influential acolytes is rare among BCS Football Coaches… Ask Ron Zook for instance… More the reason that fans, boosters, alumni and non-alumni who follow this program, need to stay on Fitz’s ass in forums like this if folks really put a premium on winning football

          • CatInTheHat

            For what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure Fitz does not care one iota about what is said in forums like this. That may be a good thing or it may not–I’m really not sure–but I’ve heard him say in so many words that he doesn’t care about the blogs.

          • DT

            All football coaches have a big ego and a posse with big ears and eyes… The fact Fitz mentions blogs on a pretty regular basis these days says at the very least, he is aware.. He sure as hell would be listening if a few on LTP for instance, started talking about fans mobilizing for the purpose of not renewing season tickets or boycotting bowl games until he proves he can win one! Moreover, President Schapiro who reads this blog seemingly, would make his Athletic Director aware of it…

      • DT

        Cat In The Hat is right… How in the world can you say Northwestern is in the top 4 of Big Ten programs in terms of conditioning? The “D” was gassed last week and had nothing left in OT… Further, inexplicably the offense has not played up tempo to the extent they have the last 2-3 years, when it was obvious their conditioning was superior to Iowa for instance… The game of college football has spead up with the success of Oregon and NU was hip to that early on as well… We have slowed down tempo on “O” for some reason… Zone read and option are optimized at that increased tempo… I’m going to conclude, some of that is conditioning, particularly how the Wide Outs meander back to the huddle or line of scrimmage after a route..

        Finally– I think NU has killer instinct and will to win at levels more than sufficient to actually win! It is strategy and implementation that bog down, not heart or stones… I’d give Fitz credit on the latter as well… It’s his game prep and management that break down, not his
        heart or certainly will to win.. I’d never question that about the man, or any team he coaches… In the final analysis, “killer instinct” is a strong will to win at levels greater than the opponent… I don’t think that is the problem…

        CatInTheHat– In that you mention Brooks.. Not a current football player in America that could could endure the workouts of Herbie at The U or in The Olympics.. Got a bit softer in the NHL in that pros did not buy in or work as hard…Herb’s Minnesota teams were amazingly conditioned… As depicted in “Miracle” he took it to another level with that special group of kids…

    • Dave

      I wouldn’t say it’s a lack of “killer instinct” or mental toughness within the players but rather poor in-game strategic decisions by the coaches. Whether it’s not realizing who has the hot hand between Colter and Siemian or super conservative playcalling to protect a 10 point lead midway through the 3rd quarter, it is the coaches poor in-game decision making that leaves us feeling like we deserve to be 9-1 or 10-0.

      Give Fitz and Co a week to prepare and they always have a great gameplan that gives us a shot to succeed against anyone, regardless of the talent disparity. Fitz and staff are also great at developing players. Given both of these strengths, this is why we consistently compete with schools that recruit better than us (ala michigan and nebraska this year). I think this is why so many coachces respect Fitz despite his shortcomings.

      The question is, how has Fitz become so good at what is actually very difficult while having so many simple mental blunders that people playing on play station 3 wouldn’t make?

  • Henry in CT

    Conditioning is all important in most sports but especially so in basketball where good results can be achieved with average talent and programs can be turned around quickly. At the University of Connecticut there have been two great BB coaches – Jim Calhoun on the men’s side and Geno Auremma on the women’s side – that took dormant losing programs and turned them into perennial powerhouses and did it in a relatively short time and the common denominator was a superior level of conditioning. It looks from the poor fourth quarter performance like NU’s football conditioning may not be good enough but there is also a lack of depth. It seems like we wear down and are hanging on for dear life at the end of every game. If the answer is as simple as conditioning I would have to ask why it has not been addressed long before now.

    • Jpklock

      This is what it means to be in a rebuilding year…

  • NUARANINETYFIVE

    Last time I talked to Fitz one-on-one was over a couple of beers and a few games of pool at Hamilton’s (which btw just closed) after the Wisconsin game in ’95. What he was then and still is today…just a regular guy who is grounded and speaks to truth in the moment…very hard to find fault in someone after watching that video. Pat should follow in the footsteps of Alvarez at Wisconsin. This guy not only bleeds purple…but he represents the NU community better than anyone. Wow.
    Also, really moved by the Venric Mark video. Love the motivation by faith mantra.
    As far as the killer instinct, the team should embrace the scene in ‘Saving Private Ryan’ when the german soldier (who was spared earlier) returns to take out the platooon. NO MORE SPARING OUR OPPONENTS. PLAY LIKE WE ARE ALWAYS DOWN 2 SCORES.

    • Jbonz

      @NUARANINETYFIVE:disqus two of my friends met their wives at Hamiltons… The are bummed it closed! I didn’t make it to the last bears game there!

      • Nate

        Walked right by Hamilton’s today (Loyola student here)…many at LUC are sad to see it go, and although I’ve never been there, I understand it had quite the following…and quite the number of underage drinking and fake ID stings.

  • Jbonz

    Okay, that was a moving video. As fans we demand a coaching staff that will lead our team to victory. To that end, and as many others have mentioned, I really hope Fitz surrounds himself, in the off-season, or all year, with some mentors that can help him make better coaching decisions. He needs to be start accepting some advice some from some coaches who have “been there”.

    In exchange, we have to start filling the stands. We have to. After sitting in the north end zone during the Nebraska game with about 80% Nebraska fans, I still don’t know what disgusted me more: losing the game, or being a visitor in my own stadium. Even before we lost I was shell-shocked at how small the NU contingent looked in comparison to Nebraska.

    Look, we all want a top notch program. But we have to support it. And I appreciate what LTP does to try to increase season ticket purchases all year long.

    In the video they mentioned that only two big ten teams have fewer alumini in Chicago than Northwestern: Nebraska and Penn State. So we are outnumbered, we get it. But for all of us who bleed purple, let’s fill the stands!

    See you at the Illinois game! And support Carmody as well! We are going to have a surprising year in BB this year!

  • SocalScott

    Fitz gets it. More than any other major college football program, the school is bigger than football. Football will never define NU. He attracts kids that want to be a part of something better. Thrilled to have him as the coach.

  • Nate

    Great video, I’m gonna share it with some of my Facebook peeps, maybe attract some new fans…it’s a great reason why I’ve remained a fan, the growing and building up to a perennial powerhouse in its own special NU kind of way. Have your cake and eat it too – have a football program that consistently competes for B1G Championships while keeping the high academic standards? I’m all for it if it can be done, and NU’s getting closer.

    Killer instinct…Fitz played with it, now he’s gotta preach it to his staff and players. Now, he showed it Saturday on the 4th down draw with Kain that was successful by a centimeter, but a lot of the failures this year have been due to lack of execution both on the players and coaches late in games. This must change…whether it means some better in-game tacticians on the coaching staff or change in approach late in games, something must be tweaked in order to see NU close out the “big boys”. I will remain hopeful…hopeful that next time is THE time NU gets it done.

  • Catsfan’96

    Happily, this tells me nothing new about Fitz. it merely reaffirms everything I already thought and shows why we are lucky to have him as the face, as well as heart and soul, of the program.

  • gocatsteve

    Is it too late to write Fitz in for President?

West Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Nebraska3000
Minnesota2100
Iowa2100
Illinois2100
Wisconsin1100
Purdue1200
Northwestern 0200

East Division

TeamsW (Overall)L (Overall)W (B1G)L (B1G)
Penn State3010
Maryland2100
Ohio State2100
Michigan2100
Michigan State2100
Indiana1100
Rutgers2101