When the days get shorter, darkness comes quicker, and temperatures get colder, I tend to lose track of dates and times. But then rumors connecting Pat Fitzgerald to the Bears as a potential head-coaching candidate snap me back to reality and remind me that we’re deep into fall and on the cusp of winter.
However, I’m not so certain that annual reminder will be there for me in 2021:
— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) January 27, 2021
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) January 27, 2021
Northwestern’s football coach remains in Evanston, signing a 10-year contract extension that keeps him in town through 2030. Good for him. Fitzgerald has done wonders in building a Big Ten also-ran into a team that’s been in the Big Ten title game in two of the last three seasons. And it’s not as is there wasn’t interest elsewhere. Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel reports multiple NFL teams inquired about Fitzgerald’s interest in going pro. Moreover, two made “a heavy push” to pull him from the college ranks. This marks the second time in three years in which there was significant interest from NFL franchises. Remember, the Packers pushed hard to grab him before landing on Matt LaFleur.
My gut reaction to Fitzgerald’s new deal was that it should take him off Chicago’s radar in thee near-term. If you’ll recall, rumors of Fitzgerald’s interest in coaching in the NFL conveniently lined up with buzz that the Bears would be the only team he’d leave NU to coach. And when a report surfaced that the Bears would likely make a head-coaching change with Fitzgerald being the target, Bears fans were put on high alert. So maybe it’s just a coincidence that Fitzgerald’s new deal comes weeks after Chicago decided to stand pat. Or maybe he built some outs in his new contract that allow him to pursue that one dream job.
In any case, we’re off the obsessive Fitzgerald watch for now. At least, until next fall/winter when his name inevitably pops up on the rumor mill again. After all, that’s what happens with perennials. You plant ’em once and they come back every year when you expect them.