The NUmbers Guy: Northwestern’s ideal coach
WNUR Sports Director Jim Sannes (@JimSannes) constructs the ideal head coach for Northwestern Wildcats athletics.
During the process that led to the hiring of Chris Collins, there was a lot of talk about “the basketball Fitz.” Everyone was looking to hire a charismatic leader that would inspire the fan-base and be a great face for the program. Judging purely on Collin’s first press conference and interview with WNUR’s Seth Bernstein, they certainly found the former. But what’s required to build a top-notch program? Here at Northwestern, we seem to be blessed with plenty of great coaches to look to. So, I put my Photoshop, uh, “skills” to work to construct the best that Northwestern has to offer. The picture’s not good. It’s not inspirational. But I’ll be darned if Fitz wouldn’t make a pretty girl. Let’s go through the parts of our very own Frankenstein.
Brain – Kelly Amonte Hiller
The woman has only won seven of the last eight freaking women’s college lacrosse national championships. The team is now 10-1 on the season after beating No. 8 Penn State and No. 11 Virginia by a combined 22-9 in games on Friday and Sunday respectively. Since the start of the 2005 season, the ‘Cats are now 87-2 at Lakeside Field. That is a winning percentage of 97.8, or the equivalent of winning 80 of 82 home games in a season of Major League Baseball. Based on the picture above, I think it’s fair to assume that her intelligence has blown the mind of Tavaras Hardy. Don’t worry, T-Baby, I’m right there with you.
Face – Pat Fitzgerald
Just ignore the fact that I have a borderline creepy man-crush on Fitz for a second. Whenever you hear national pundits (fun word) talk about Northwestern football, you always hear them talk about Fitz’s enthusiasm. Whether he’s celebrating a personal foul or asking why Bella loves Edward instead of Jacob, the man exudes an aura that draws people in. At 38-years-old, he is already the winningest head coach in Northwestern history. Add in the fact that he is in the College Football Hall of Fame as a two-time All American linebacker, you’ve got yourself the face of a program.
Heart – Joe McKeown
There aren’t many numbers that can quantify whether or not you’re a good human being. Joe McKeown of Northwestern women’s basketball is. Most coaches will avoid media after tough losses. Coach McKeown, after a nail-biting loss at No. 9 Penn State, went out of his way to ask how my broadcast partner and I were doing and if we needed anything. He then performed CPR on a labradoodle, drafted a new Egyptian constitution and helped the Angels win the pennant. Okay, the Egypt part is a lie. If I were the father of a recruit, he’s the type of person from whom I would want my son or daughter to learn.
Right Arm – Claire Pollard
We’re going to say that the right arm is used to elevate a program and keep it consistent over a long period of time. Stretch? Oh, heck yeah. But I needed a way to get Pollard, the head coach of the women’s tennis team in here, so deal with it, homie. Pollard is in her 15th year with the team, and she has already won 12 Big Ten regular season titles (11 consecutive from 1999-2009 and again in 2012). They also casually won the Big Ten tournament every year from 1999-2011. If Collins can also nail Pollard’s sweet British accent, he may have a future in this coaching gig.
Lower Body – Kate Drohan
The legs are the portion of the body that provide stability, and that is what Northwestern softball has found under Drohan. Drohan is one of only two coaches to ever take a Big Ten team to the finals of the Women’s College World Series. Although she is in her 12th season at the helm, Drohan is still in her 30’s. This season, the ‘Cats seem to be riding the momentum that put them in the NCAA tournament on the final weekend of the regular season last year. They were able to improve to 19-14 (5-3) with a dominant sweep of Illinois this weekend. Marisa Bast had as many RBI’s (5) as Illinois had hits. Amy Letourneau threw her second no-hitter in a week on Friday and Meghan Lamberth threw a one-hitter on Saturday. The portal to my heart is domination of Illinois, so well done, team.
Hopefully that helps clear the muddle of my little creation. If you can’t tell, there’s a reason I do radio and not graphic design. So if you see Coach Collins at Great Clips getting hair extensions or working on his vertical, don’t question it. He’s just trying to emulate those who have found success at Northwestern before him. Now, if he can grow a Laurie Schiller mustache, he will just win at life.