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way we go about our business, the process we goabout developing our young men and developingour team, those expectations far outweigh anyexternal expectations that we're going to see.So I'm happy to see that everyone's takingnotice that we're doing okay, that we'reprogressing, that we're building in my opinion aprogram that our fans, our alumni, our studentsand everyone that's associated with Northwesternfootball can be proud of.But we're far from where we're going to be.And to me that's the driving force in our program, isto take the necessary steps to be competitive for achampionship. And hopefully we'll do that as wemove forward in training camp.
Q. They're making an emphasis on thetargeting rule this year with the ejections beingled. As a former All-Conference defender, howdifficult is it going to be for these guys to beable to change the culture of the hits? Andyour thoughts on how you're going to be ableto coach these guys up and what do youexpect to see moving forward?
COACH FITZGERALD: We're lookingforward to working with Bill Carollo (Big TenCoordinator of Football Officials) and the Big Tenofficials as they come through our training camps,especially at Northwestern, to look at the teachtape that I know Bill will have for us as far aseducating what hits from a year ago or maybe theprevious few seasons it would be labeled targetingfrom a standpoint of what would be an ejectableoffense as we move forward.I like the fact that that's a play that'scoming into our game to make sure we have thenumber one most important thing handled, andthat's the health, safety, well-being of thestudent-athletes as they play the game of football.It's well documented I'm a rather largehockey fan, and to see the way the rules havechanged in the game of hockey to where it's moreof an athletic game and guys aren't getting pressedup and boarded -- it's the same for football. If you're defenseless, you should be protected.But there will be some hits that I'm lookingforward to learning from and seeing exactly howthat's going to be officiated.But there's no question the health, safety,well-being of the student-athletes is the numberone priority.
Q. I guess just kind of talk about howthe game has evolved in the past few years asfar as players' safety. And do you think there'senough being done to protect the athletes?
COACH FITZGERALD: I definitely believethat the coaches, the administrators, theconference commissioners, the NCAA, andobviously our student-athletes and our medicalteams, there's great dialogue about how can wecontinue to improve our game from a health andsafety standpoint.And I think everyone that's a shareholderin that experience, it's critically important that wehave great dialogue, we have great discussions,and we come up with positive solutions to keep ouryoung men safe.And that's not only on game day. It's 365days a year. If it's nutrition, sleep, the way that wepractice, the way that we play, those are allpositives.Back -- I kind of feel like that onecommercial, back in my day, we wore neck rollsand the game was played from the breadth of thistable. And there were certain days of the weekthat I couldn't practice because of the physicalpounding you went through on game day, onSaturday. But the way you had to practice toprepare.So I think we're trending in a very positivedirection. Are we at the destination? I'm not surewe ever will be. I think that will be an ongoingprogression of making the kids and the game saferand safer. And I think we're in a positive place.But as I said, I think we're going to continue tomove forward to get to a great place for ourstudent-athletes.
Q. You obviously have several gamesbefore you start Big Ten play, but with whereyour program is right now for a primetimegame for homecoming like you have coming upagainst Ohio State, that type of game, what doyou hope and expect your stadium will be likefrom an atmosphere standpoint and what agame like that is like for your program at thispoint?
COACH FITZGERALD: The pageantry of Big Ten football is special. We're anationally-based conference. Obviously thebreadth of our conference is special and you take itdown to individual games and just the opportunityto compete and play Big Ten football is amazing.Obviously on paper as you sit here the endof July and you look at the conference slate, you