Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald has long been mentioned in NFL circles. But despite interest from the pros, the Wildcats leading man has remained adamant that he will not be leaving Evanston, Illinois and that he wants to retire at the university. But could that all change in 2019?
While Fitzgerald has shown no indication of a change of heart, the latest rumblings indicate there could be some interest on his part regarding a specific NFL job.
Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network reported on Sunday morning that the Green Bay Packers have interest in the Wildcats coach. Not only does Green Bay have interest, but Rapoport indicates it could be mutual.
“The Packers have interest in interviewing Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, sources say, and the connections are clear. This could be the one time Fitzgerald takes the interview,” he wrote on Twitter while sharing a lengthier article on the NFC coaching outlook.
The article states:
One coach they are expected to target is Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, sources say. Packers CEO Mark Murphy actually hired Fitzgerald when Murphy was AD at Northwestern. While Fitzgerald has shut down countless interview requests from the NFL in the past, with a good sales pitch, this one may work.
Along with Fitzgerald, Rapoport points out New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels as a potential candidate because of his relationship with general manager Brian Guteknust, while the Packers have already interviewed former Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and former Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano.
Before turning to coaching, Fitzgerald, who was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008, was a standout linebacker for the Wildcats. He was a two-time Bronko Nagurski Trophy, two-time Chuck Bednarik Award, and two-time Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year winner. He was also a two-time consensus All-American.
As a coach, Fitzgerald has compiled an overall record of 95-70, won the Big Ten West Division in 2018, and earned Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
It will be interesting to see if the NFL interest finally lures him to the pros.