A rare occurance happened on ESPN radio this morning - Big Ten Football was mentioned. Now - while you are picking up yourself up off the floor from the chair you just fell out of, note that it was in regards to the Notre Dame football coaching job, tenuously held by 10-year contract beneficiary, Charlie Weis. Mr. Cowherd contended that there were several outstanding young coaches that Notre Dame could immediately replace Weis with that would be an upgrade. Among these were Boise State's Chris Petersen and Northwestern's own Pat Fitzgerald. And while I agree that either of these guys would be an upgrade to Weis's bumbling tenure, I don't agree with Cowherd's ridiculous follow up statement to the mention of Fitzgerald. His assertion that 'Pat Fiztgerald is the best coach in the Big Ten'.
Groan. Now I know that the luster hasn't yet worn off on the Wildcats big victory over Iowa last weekend, and to a national sporting media that seemed like a massive upset. Fitzgerald deserves credit for having his team get a very tough road win. But for those of us who actually follow the Big Ten on a week in, week out basis - we've seen Iowa dodge bullets all year. They needed two blocked kicks in the 4th quarter to overcome Northern Iowa for crying out loud. Their number was finally up, and with Stanzi knocked out of the game, it gave NU the edge to hang on and steal the win.
I quickly sorted thru NU's record under Fitzgerald since he took over for the late Randy Walker. Short of the fact that he recently took down the highly ranked Squawk-eyes, there isn't much to hang your hat on. Since 2006, he's managed to lose to teams like New Hampshire, Nevada, Duke, and Syracuse. Yes, he's young. Yes, he's made NU competitive again. He's a nice story, given that he's an Wildcat alum from their Rose Bowl team and a suburban Chicago native. He's passionate and fiery. A great interview too. But best coach in the Big Ten? C'mon. 25 and 22, and 4 games under 0.500 in the Big Ten just don't qualify you to be in that discussion.