Pat Fitzgerald thinks he's overrated, but compared to whom?
Since 2006, the 38-year-old coach has compiled a 50-39 (56.2 percent) record and has led Northwestern to five straight bowl appearances, taking home the team's first postseason victory since 1948 with a win over Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl.
Fitzgerald is the all-time winningest coach in school history and is one of only three coaches to guide the Wildcats to three consecutive winning seasons, being the first to do so since Ara Parseghian from 1958-1960.
He's not done yet, either. Northwestern has a lot of offensive firepower returning to the roster and is without doubt a dark horse candidate to win the Big Ten Legends Division.
But Fitzgerald isn't a believer in personal accolades. In fact, he thinks he hasn't done nearly enough.
"I'd say, compared to my brothers in our profession, I'm overrated," he said during an interview with SirusXM College Sports Nation. "I was a zero-star recruit and I think I've gone into the negatives as a coach."
Maybe Fitzgerald is overrated, but it depends on what you're comparing him to. If you look at his resume vs. other Big Ten coaches like Urban Meyer, Brady Hoke and Bo Pelini—then yes, it's safe to say that he's not quite there yet.
However, he's definitely on his way. And quickly. In the four years prior to Fitzgerald's arrival, Northwestern had a 22-27 record, which is a 44.9 winning percentage—meaning he has given the Wildcats an 11.3 percent increase in the win category.
For example: Pelini has a 49-20 record since taking over at Nebraska in 2008 (71.0 winning percentage). During the four years before his tenure, the Cornhuskers went 27-22 (55.1). That's a 15.9 percent difference for a program with great history and a lot of talent—two things that Fitzgerald has had to work very hard for.
Even Bret Bielema, who led Wisconsin to three straight Rose Bowl appearances before departing to Arkansas this offseason, had similar statistics as a coaching member of the Big Ten. He won 73.9 percent of his games with the Badgers, who had went 34-18 (65.4) in the four years beforehand.
I'm not saying that Fitzgerald is the next Bear Bryant and that Northwestern will be competing for future national championships, but he definitely has his program on the right track to potentially win its first outright Big Ten title since 1995.
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