Continuity key for NU staff

Jamie Lovegrove discusses one of the most important factors in the recent upswing for Northwestern football.

With so much focus dedicated to the players returning on the field, it's worth noting that the returns to the sidelines in 2013 may be just as valuable.

Northwestern is one of two teams in the Big Ten that has returned its entire coaching staff for each of the past three seasons. Many of the coaches have been a part of the program for six or more years.

As if it wasn't enough already for the Wildcats that they have a head coach who sounds like he'll be sticking around in Evanston for the long haul, even his assistants have been able to make Evanston home.

Pat Fitzgerald has always made his assistants a priority. He knows that turning the program into a career destination for budding coaches and keeping the same faces around has benefits that affect the entire team.

It creates a family atmosphere around the program that makes everyone enjoy what he's doing just a little bit more.

It helps with recruiting for prospective players to be more certain regarding coaching stability. And as the Wildcats rack up arguably their best recruiting class ever in the class of 2014, it is not surprising to hear repeated comments from prospects about how valuable it is to feel confident in the coaches. Blake Hance, for example, was able to form relationship with a handful of coaches. Now, players who might round out the class have discussed just about each member of the staff.

Of course it helps with the X's and O's to know that everyone on the staff is on the same page. And there are no transition costs of having to find new employees each offseason in time that could be better spent getting ready for the fall.

Continuity is not everything – quality comes first. The Iowa Hawkeyes proudly state their beliefs on continuity on the "Staff" website. "Continuity is king, particularly in college football. Those who do their homework quickly realize that continuity is one of the keys to success."

Unfortunately for Iowa, they are only referring to the fact that they've had just two head coaches lead the program in the last 35 years. Over half of the rest of their staff has only been with the team for two years or less. Evidently, continuity has not been too kind to Iowa, as they are forced to rebound from a dismal 2012 season.

But it certainly helps. The more time these coaches can get to know the players they have at their disposal and the players they are competing against around the Big Ten, the better their chances for success.

Luckily, there's no senior graduation to worry about for coaches, and they are eligible for as long as they can go. So when Kain and Venric return to the field this fall, be equally grateful that Fitz and all his behind-the-scenes guys will be right there with them.

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