Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Before heading out to play what he guaranteed would be bad golf on Tuesday afternoon, Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald checked in to discuss his new seven-year contract extension with the school. Athletic director Jim Phillips first approached Fitzgerald about a long-term deal following the 2008 season, and the details were finalized Tuesday.
Here's some of what Fitzgerald had to say in our conversation:
ON THE EXTENSION: "I'm humbled and I'm very appreciative. Today is really a commitment to the success on the field that we've been able to accomplish, the great success our young men are having in the classroom and in the community. The same things that have appealed to us, now hopefully recruits will see that there's the same commitment from the university that there's always been since I've been here. Jim approached me after the season and we both spoke about making a long-term contract a priority. We've definitely been on the same page from the start and just needed to work through some things."
ON THE SCHOOL'S COMMITMENT TO THE PROGRAM: "The priorities are our players and our coaches. There's a wealth of support here that's been added to our coaching staff and our support staff, also to help us continue to recruit. After nine wins last year, it was important for us to build upon that. Our goal is to win a Big Ten championship and compete for the championship every year. Hopefully, this is a statement to the country that we're all on the same page and united in that quest."
ON THE IMPACT FOR HIS ASSISTANT COACHES: "Across the board, from a coaching staff standpoint, we're excited to be here. There's great support, and this contract takes it to a whole other level that will allow me to keep a great coaching staff together. It will allow us to support our players and then also the recruiting side of it. I know how it was when [former head coach Randy Walker received a contract extension], it's a great vote of confidence that you're about the right things, you're developing players the proper way and the program's being run the right way. The head coach gets a lot of attention, good, bad or indifferent, but really it's because you're surrounded by great people when you have success. I think I'm about a 4, and my staff is all about 9's, so I can't take a whole lot of credit."
ON HIS LONG-TERM FUTURE WITH THE PROGRAM: "At the end of the day, when you're at your alma mater and you're coaching the young men that we get an opportunity to work with, the families, our alumni, our fans, the opportunity to be an hour from home for Stacy and I and to raise our boys in this kind of environment, a lot of times I have to pinch myself with how blessed and how fortunate we are to have that opportunity. It's an exciting time. We've had success, and with nine wins last year, it's important for us to build upon that and for our program to take the next step and challenge for championships. I'm excited that myself and our program and the administration are on the same page to do that."