Pat Fitzgerald: 'Discipline begins in recruiting'

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Wednesday July 24, 2013

Posted by: Chris Vannini on July 24, 2013

Player discipline is a popular topic at conference media days this year, and there have been a range of answers.

For Pat Fitzgerald, it's about finding disciplined players to join the program, rather than making them adjust when they get to campus.

"I think discipline begins in recruiting," Fitzgerald said. "The identification of a student-athlete that fits your program. I've been saying it starts with that character evaluation. We've got a set of questions that are married with the values of our program. You hear it in our team room a lot. That's a roadmap for assistant coaches as they go out to really evaluate prospective student athletes.

"If you look at our history in recruiting, we're typically a day late, a week late, a month late at offering a young person. I know sometimes that frustrates our fans, but we're going to make sure, when we offer a young man, that's someone we truly want to become a part of our football family. That character evaluation takes a little bit longer."

Northwestern has made some headlines on the recruiting trail this offseason, beating some blueblood programs for prospects. The Wildcats have the No. 27-ranked class of 2014 in the 247 Sports rankings. In order to complete that player evaluation, Fitzgerald explained why that takes a bit longer.

"We're going to try to use every means necessary: the coach, the AD, the principal, the guidance counselor, whatever champion in that person's life we can find and discover that's going to answer the tough questions to give us the right answers and make sure that person's the right fit," he said.

"I'm also respectful of other programs in the country that everyone is unique and different in how they go about that. But that is a very serious discussion that we have. I'm very proud of the job our young men do in our community, giving back and being a part of our community in a very positive way on the Northwestern campus and greater Chicagoland and Evanston community and being a role model for student-athletes across the country. I think that goes back to identification in recruiting."






Chris Vannini is the lead writer for and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to

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