By Adam Hoge
(CBS) One day after Vanderbilt backed out of two games against Northwestern via snail mail, Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald voiced his displeasure.
“I’m disappointed,” he said on The Mully And Hanley Show on 670 The Score Friday morning. “We thought that we were peer institutions, and obviously we were mistaken. I think it just shows where our program is heading in comparison to theirs.”
It’s true. In a year when both academically strong programs were expected to take big steps forward, the ‘Cats sit at 6-1 (2-1 Big Ten), while Vanderbilt is a lowly 2-4 (1-3 SEC). That of course includes the 23-13 loss NU handed the Commodores at Ryan Field Sept. 8.
LISTEN: Pat Fitzgerald On The Mully And Hanley Show
Vanderbilt’s decision to back out of the final two games of a four-game deal — a 2013 date in Nashville and a 2014 date in Evanston — is ultimately a compliment to Northwestern. The ‘Cats also beat Vanderbilt in Nashville in 2010 and it’s worth noting the Commodores also backed out of a scheduled 2013 game against Ohio State. Due to SEC scheduling changes, Vanderbilt ended up with multiple games scheduled for Aug. 31 when it was supposed to play Ohio State and Sept. 14 when it was supposed to play Northwestern.
But it’s also the way in which the Commodores backed out that has Northwesten irked. Vanderbilt sent a letter in the mail. No phone calls, no e-mails. Just a letter.
“I’ve had a lot of respect for their coach and what they’re trying to get done there, but obviously we are in totally two different places as a program and to have them do it the way that they did, which I’ll let Jim Phillips handle all that, he’s the boss. I’m just disappointed,” Fitzgerald said.
Northwestern didn’t wait long to fill the vacancy, adding Western Michigan to the 2013 slate Friday. The Broncos aren’t quite an SEC program, but at the very least, the move gives Northwestern a seventh home game.
“We’ll turn another team’s decision into a great positive for our program,” Fitzgerald said.
NU’s 2013 non-conference now includes the season-opener at California and three consecutive home games against Syracuse (Sept. 7), Western Michigan (Sept. 14) and Maine (Sept. 21).
For more college football coverage, follow Adam on Twitter at @AdamHogeCBS.