(WSCR) Under head football coach Pat Fitzgerald, the culture at Northwestern has changed.

What was once a forgotten program has evolved into a legitimate contender, earning four consecutive bowl game bids.

“We’ve got a good football team coming back,” Fitzgerald told The Mully and Hanley Show. “We’ve got young men who are focused. We’ve now been to four straight bowl games. They’re very motivated to get back. Our seniors know bowl games – we expect to go to bowl games. (Former Northwestern coach) Gary Barnett recruited me on ‘expect victories.’ Now, we’ve come a long way and we expect bowl games. Now, it’s going to be to expect championships to take that next step.”

LISTEN: Pat Fitzgerald on The Mully and Hanley Show

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Fitzgerald also discussed the status of transfer wide receiver Kyle Prater, who transferred from USC to Northwestern because of “family reasons.” Prater is waiting to hear back from the NCAA to see if he’ll be able to play in 2012, or if he’ll have to red shirt this season.

“We worked through that whole process with him and his family,” Fitzgerald said. “Now, it’s in the NCAA’s hands. We should hear something sooner rather than later. We’ll hear something before the start of the season. … If we can find out before we start camp, that would really help us. Then, we could know that he’s going to be a piece of the puzzle and we can start to put him into a position where we can see if he can compete to play.”

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