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Dr. Saturday

Pat Fitzgerald says making a verbal commitment is like getting engaged

Frank Schwab
Dr. Saturday

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(USA Today Sports Images)

The most difficult part of recruiting for coaches has to be verbal commitments. They aren't binding. If they were, Robert Nkemdiche would be going to Clemson instead of Ole Miss. All verbal commitments do is get a coach's hopes up, when there's a good chance that commitment won't stick.

Northwestern apparently has a different way of handling players who reopen the recruiting process after giving the Wildcats a verbal commitment. They just won't deal with that prospect anymore.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, in an interview with the Chicago Tribune before national signing day, compared a verbal commitment to getting engaged to be married.

"We believe a commitment is like getting engaged,'' Pat Fitzgerald told the Chicago Tribune. "We tell our young men, while you're dating, if you decide to date other people, that's great. But the minute you get engaged and set a wedding date, this dating is all off. If you decide to go back to dating after you've been engaged, no longer is there going to be a wedding.''

Sounds nice, but that can't be an easy strategy to stick to if a top recruit backs out before signing day. Still, it might be a way to get recruits from waffling before the national letter of intent comes in. It's an interesting philosophy if nothing else.

Whatever Northwestern is doing, it's working pretty well. The Wildcats landed Matt Altivi, rated as a four-star dual threat quarterback and the 11th ranked dual-threat quarterback recruit in the nation by Rivals.com, on signing day. That's a major coup for a program coming off its first bowl win since 1949.

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