Pat Fitzgerald (born December 2, 1974(1974-12-02) in Orland Park, Illinois) is the current head coach of the Northwestern University Wildcats football team. He was selected after the unexpected death of Randy Walker and announced at a press conference on July 7, 2006. He was 31 at the time of his appointment, making him the youngest coach in the Big Ten Conference and in NCAA Division I-A football by five years. With Lane Kiffin's hiring at the University of Tennessee on December 1, 2008, Fitzgerald lost his status as the youngest coach by about six months.
Fitzgerald starred at linebacker for the Wildcats in the mid-1990s, helping to lead the team to a 101 regular season record in 1995 and a berth in the 1996 Rose Bowl, the school's first appearance there since 1949. Fitzgerald was unable to play in the game, however, after breaking his leg in the next-to-last game of the 1995 season. Fitzgerald returned for the 1996 season, leading the Wildcats to the 1997 Citrus Bowl.
In his playing career, he twice was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and won both the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and the Chuck Bednarik Award in 1995 and again in 1996, becoming the first two-time winner of both honors.
Fitzgerald is the 15th Northwestern player or coach to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. He was honored at a ceremony on December 9, 2008 in New York City and enshrined in the Hall of Fame in South Bend, Indiana in July 2009.
After graduation, Fitzgerald briefly played with the Dallas Cowboys, but decided that coaching was his calling. He joined the coaching staff at the University of Maryland in 1998, then moved on to Colorado under his former Northwestern coach, Gary Barnett. He took a job at the University of Idaho before returning to Northwestern, where he served as linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator until his promotion to head coach.