Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald has been sought after by NFL teams the last few offseasons. But each time, he has opted to stay at his alma mater instead of making the jump to the next level.
And on Wednesday, Northwestern made sure its head coach would stay in Evanston even longer. Fitzgerald and Northwestern agreed to a new 10-year contract through 2030. His previous deal lasted through 2026.
“Stacy, Jack, Ryan, Brendan and I have always been grateful to call Northwestern our home, and be part of the Wildcats family,” Fitzgerald said in a news release. “We all have a lot to be proud of, but our best is yet to come.”
“We have one of the best coaches in college football and, more importantly, a leader uncommonly suited to this University,” outgoing Northwestern athletic director Jim Phillips said. “Over the course of his tenure, Coach Fitzgerald has built a culture of unwavering belief in excellence both on and off the field, and led our Wildcats to unprecedented sustained success. They boast incredible achievement in the classroom, in the community and in competition, and will for years to come.”
This offseason, more professional teams came calling. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported earlier this month that multiple NFL teams inquired about Fitzgerald, but he had not agreed to any interviews. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora reported the Atlanta Falcons, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans all had him on their radar. Two years ago, he declined an interview with the Green Bay Packers — Mark Murphy, Green Bay’s president and CEO, hired Fitzgerald when he was Northwestern’s athletic director in 2006.
Fitzgerald has been highly-coveted because of his ability to build a successful program in Evanston. The 2020 Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year led the Wildcats to their second Big Ten Championship appearance in three years this season. The Wildcats finished the season 7-2 with a 35-19 victory in the Citrus Bowl.
Fitzgerald is the sixth-longest tenured coach in the FBS and the winningest coach in Northwestern history with 106 wins. He also took home Big Ten Coach of the year in 2018.
During his time as a player at Northwestern, he was also extremely accomplished — two-time All-American, Bronko Nagurski Award winner, Chuck Bednarik Award winner and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.