Pat Fitzgerald took the stage right at noon today to address the print media, covering several topics. He talked at length about the team's cumulative GPA of 3.04 from last year and about Northwestern having the best APR score in Division I FBS football. Combined with four-consecutive bowl berths, NU's combination of academics and athletics currently are unmatched at any level in the nation.
Fitz commented on the fact that the Big Ten Leaders Division has only four teams eligible for the B1G Championship game this year while NU's Legends Division has six. He proposed in the coaches and ADs meeting with Jim Delany, then reiterated on the podium, that he believes the Legends winner should receive an automatic bid into the B1G title tilt while a committee comprised of one person from each school and Delany would then select the other participant - whether it be the winner of the Leaders Division or the second-place squad from the Legends side.
Asked about the Penn State situation, Fitz said he used it as a teachable moment for his young staff. They gathered to watch the NCAA's sanctions press conference Monday morning as a group, then met afterward to discuss it. The decision quickly was made not to pursue Penn State players for several reasons, chief among them that Northwestern is happy and excited to compete with the roster it has right now.
Fitz was asked about Illinois' new head coach, and NU's seventh-year mentor responded that he knows Tim Beckman quite well and that he has a lot of respect for the former head at Toledo. Fitz talked about the value of Northwestern's rivalry with Illinois.
The subject of Northwestern's bowl drought came up, and Fitz answered by saying there is a monkey in his office that is waiting to be shredded, but that the program has four main goals in this order: Consistently prepare for victory, win the Legends Division, win the Big Ten Championship and win a bowl game. After talking about all four of those with the team, those that are not at the forefront at the moment are covered up on NU's goal board in the team meeting room until the appropriate time.
Finally, Fitz talked about his love for Northwestern's new Under Armour jerseys, which were unveiled this morning. The team's Leadership Council provided a lot of input as did the staff and the school, and NU is very excited about the final product executed by the Under Armour design team. For more on the design process and the history of the "Northwestern Stripe," check out this great story from Complex Magazine.
Elsehwere Thursday at Big Ten Football Media Days, Northwestern made the rotation of the local television media room with a fresh Under Armour jersey in tow, posing with it for the cameras. Following that, all of the Wildcats spent time on "Radio Row," doing live and taped interviews with everyone from Sirius/XM radio to three different Nebraska affiliates and Northwestern student radio WNUR 89.3 FM, broadcasting live from Big Ten Media Days for the very first time.
One of the highlights of the day for NU's player representatives (Kain Colter, Brian Mulroe and David Nwabuisi) was an extended chat with former Ohio State running back and Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George. The trio also chatted with opposing Big Ten players, including Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson, whom Colter and Nwabuisi talked to at length while waiting at Radio Row.
Tonight the players will enjoy more of each other's company in the Player's Hospitality Suite at the Hyatt McCormick in Chicago before Media Days resume bright and early Friday morning with a two-hour print media sit down session and the 2012 Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon and fan-fest.