Random Thoughts: Walker's Real Legacy

They memorialized Randy Walker Thursday, and now, maybe there's a little more closure for the extended NU Family. In reaction, Coach Roy has a few more thoughts about NU's late Head Coach, and his ongoing impact on the NU program for the future....

OK, right up front, I was not able to get to Evanston yesterday...
I think Coach Walker would have understood - I had to try to get a baseball diamond ready for play last night - its a commitment I have to an American Legion Baseball team here at home. Walker was very big on commitments.

So what I do have is impressions of the memorial, gleaned from the reports of the media who did get into the church -

First off, I was not surprised at the quality of Jamie Walker's remarks - I talked to him on the sidelines a lot when I was out scouting practices. He took on one of the toughest jobs there is in sports or anywhere, working for your dad, still kept his sense of humor. However, I'd be surprised if he stays past this Fall, walking into Nicolet next week will be very hard.

Second, the team's organization kicked in. Recruits showed up, all the players, its what you'd expect from a Div I program, but getting everything organized in 6 days was impressive - a monument to a program that was always organized.

On that note, its obvious that Assistant Head Coach Jerry Brown and Justin Sheridan [Director of Football Operations] assisted by all of the other coaches have kept the program going this past week.

NU should have been knee deep in incoming recruits and player work-outs. Instead you had to add the Head Coaches, former players, and friends of Randy Walker coming in, which could have been a logistical nightmare. The backup team did the same job they've always done, the way Coach Walker would have wanted.
Now, I was probably one of the first guys who was publicly asked to speculate on who might be the next head coach.
A week ago, it was obvious to me that NU would have immediately passed the responsibility for the program to the Assistant Head Coach, Jerry Brown. I still think he's well suited to pick up the reigns for 2006, and maybe beyond.

The other possibility, and the current media favorite is Linebacker Coach Pat Fitzgerald. Coach Fitz is a Randy Walker clone - he was a year or two away from becoming the Defensive Coordinator [at least in my opinion] and already has the sideline demeanor to be an effective head guy.

NU under Mark Murphy has a reputation for moving fast when there's a coaching opening. You might have missed it, but this week, in the midst of all of the funeral preparations, NU appointed a new Women's Soccer coach.

In the past, Murphy has shown that he likes to either promote from within the program, or grab someone he knows well, usually from his days at Colgate.

If NU chooses to go outside the program, there could be a bit of a "that's not the way Walk did it." Tough for any new head man.

If they promote someone from inside, there's a danger of hurt feelings. I like to think that everyone on the present staff is bigger than all that, but you never know.

NU Sports now has a countdown clock running on the front page - the first game is 55 days away. That means less than 3 weeks to get the front office reorganized and get a new coach in place.

Whoever it is [and I suspect Murphy already knows who he wants] will have to hit the ground running - something one of the assistants would be able to do very quickly.

Unfortunately, the clock is running, but NU Football does have a history doing miraculous things in a short time.

And that just might wind up being Randy Walker's biggest legacy at Northwestern.
-- da Coach

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