Over the weekend, Northwestern football approached former Bears head coach and NBC Sports Chicago analyst, Dave Wannstedt, about a special assistant position with the program.
Wannstedt joined NBC Sports Chicago’s Football Night in Chicago to talk about the position and the reasons he declined to join the Wildcats.
He received a call over the weekend from Northwestern and engaged in two conversations with the program. At first, he was curious to know their intentions.
“I was trying to get some clarity for exactly what they were looking for,” Wannstedt said.
Recently, Northwestern fired longtime head coach, Pat Fitzgerald, in part of a detrimental hazing scandal that involved sexual abuse and disruptive behavior.
They recently promoted defensive coordinator, David Braun, to become the team’s interim head coach. They retained the entirety of Fitzgerald’s coaching staff, too.
Last Saturday, Wannstedt spoke to Derrick Gragg, the athletic director for Northwestern, about the position.
“The one thing he did say was he wanted somebody there who is as much of a coach as a mentor,” Wannstedt said. “I just told him I’m really not into calling plays and being involved in that end. If they want me to give some support to the coaches and the players and get ready prep-wise, I can do that.”
Wannstedt emphasized the position at Northwestern would have to be part-time. His commitments to NBC, 670 The Score and the Big Ten Network consume his professional life, and he’s unwilling to compromise them to work with Northwestern.
The former NFL coach also expressed his dismay at the position. He contended the entry of a new coach would confuse the players, as well as allow the current coaches to “sit on their hands.”
“That’s a distraction,” Wannstedt said.
Braun, the interim head coach for this season, is left with the responsibility of preparing the Wildcats for the upcoming season, despite the recent controversy.
Wannstedt believes the coordinator has the capability of motivating and guiding the players this offseason.
“I would tell him to be his own person. Don’t be afraid to be the head coach. You got a good staff around you. Stay close to the players. They’re the guys that are gonna win for you.”