Pat Fitzgerald lays out the goal for 2013

Today is a football day with Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declaring it Northwestern Wildcat Football Day in the state of Illinois (pouring even more salt in the wounds the Wildcats have inflicted upon our neighbors downstate) and Northwestern celebrating its Gator Bowl victory one more time with the students and fans on campus at Norris this afternoon (actually right now, depending on when you read this).

It is a fitting way, perhaps, for the program to close the book and celebrate an amazing and surprising 2012 season. If you get the chance to go, be sure to share with those of us who cannot be there what it was like.

Pretty soon though, everyone in the football staff will finish the reminiscing and focus solely on 2013 and the future. We have done a little bit of that and will be doing more of that as we work our way through the Winter and prepare for Signing Day and Spring Practice.

Pat Fitzgerald though has probably already talked to the team about what needs to happen next season.

On the final episode of the Pat Fitzgerald Show this season, he said he told his underclassmen that they had achieved one of their goals on the goal board in the team’s meeting room. They had become bowl champions. But now the expectations would be raised and the next goal is to win the Big Ten. And that is very much the goal the Wildcats are setting for themselves. They have the team to do it in their opinion.

And these months waiting for the next season to start will be interminable as we wait for that opportunity.

h/t Dave for sharing the YouTube link to the show a few days ago with us.

  • Alaskawildcat

    Ditto on thanks for the video link. Enjoyed the recap of our Bowl win. Just curios, does anyone know if the contracts with Coach and the assistants include bonus bucks for a bowl win and if so how much? Would be another justifiable reason for the grin on Coach Fitzgrald’s face.

    • Those contracts typically do. But I do not know where you could find it. Northwestern is a private institution so FOIA requests would not help much either.

      • zeek

        Yeah, unless the university voluntarily gives out its financial numbers for athletics, there’s not much you can do to access them.

        No one really knows Fitz’s exact contract numbers, just some guesses thrown about; as for the incentives, we don’t really know those either.

  • skepticat

    I’d suggest cautious optimism for 2013. Dropping Indiana and Penn State for Wisconsin and Ohio State, it’s quite possible we could be a better team with a worse record. Plus I can’t help but think back to the 2001 “Big Ten favorites” hype, and even this past season’s “Rose Bowl run” for Michigan State. Perhaps I’m eternally skeptical, but just as people were ready to push the Arthurian pyre onto the lake before this season, I wouldn’t book my tickets to the Rose Bowl just yet. That said, looking forward to an exciting 2013 year. Go Cats!

    • James Klock

      I fundamentally agree with the cautious optimism approach… but one thing I keep seeing, which I’d like to challenge, is this thing about “dropping Indiana and Penn State for Wisconsin and Ohio State”. It reads, to me, as though we’re dropping two easy wins for two nearly-certain losses.

      I’ll definitely admit that Ohio State is going to be an exceptionally tough opponent (my personal prediction is that we’ll lose to them in our home opener, and then run the table and draw a re-match in Indianapolis). And I’ll grant that Wisconsin will be a tough opponent next year– harder than Indiana, anyway– but proved itself far from unbeatable in 2012.

      Against that, we drop Indiana– who graduate all of FOUR starters from a team that was 4-8 in 2012, and may become a viable threat in 2013, even against upper-tier B1G opponents. More importantly, we lose Penn State, a team that has been about as bad for us as Ohio State.

      On balance, I’d say our schedule is stronger next year than it was in 2012, but it’s not like it’s a huge world of difference: whatever they look like on paper or against other teams, Penn State is demonstrably as problematic an opponent for us as Ohio State…

      • skepticat

        I don’t mean to suggest we can automatically book 2 losses. I see Penn State and Wisconsin as about even trades, though we’ve played Wisconsin a lot more even (in fact, 11-11 going back to 1985!). Indiana may be better next year, but I don’t really see them as being comparable to Ohio State.

        I also expect Minnesota and Michigan to be better, and we didn’t exactly run Minnesota out of the stadium. The rest of our conference schedule, don’t really have a read on, though certainly Nebraska will always be tough, and Fitz has had problems beating Michigan State. In addition, all 3 of our non-conference FBS opponents will be under first-year coaches, so that’s throws in quite an element of the unknown. That aside, Marrone seemed to have Syracuse on an upward trajectory, though Nassib being gone would seem to be unquestionably good for us. And Cal doesn’t seem to have much room to go anywhere other than up.

        Some have also expressed concern that most of our significant losses are on the line, which could have a bigger impact than the loss of any one person at one of the “talent” positions. Hopefully Fitz has been stocking up on dominant lineman so we can reload without too much problem. If the recent dominance of the SEC has taught us anything, it’s that owning the line (both offensively and defensively) pretty much allows you to take control of the game.