One constant throughout the Northwestern unionization process has been the support Pat Fitzgerald has offered his players, players who are doing something to which the university is strongly opposed.
But Fitzgerald has a different relationship with the players than many on the other side of this issue, be they administrators at Northwestern or the upper management of the NCAA. And while the head coach has maintained his opposition to the route his players are taking, there's no hiding his pride for his players or his desire to see the system changed.
"I'm very proud of our guys stepping up, for raising national issues, but that's not what this is about," Fitzgerald said at Northwestern practice Saturday. "That's my continual education to the guys is there's mechanisms and just educating them on what those are. I'm incredibly proud of them, and I believe there's mechanisms for change. I think it's been well documented that I'm an advocate for change. I just don't believe that unionization is the way to go."
The thing is, Fitzgerald might not be the only high-profile man in purple and white to be opposed to this course of action. Trevor Siemian, who figures to be the starting quarterback when the Wildcats open the 2014 season this fall, plans to vote "no" on unionization when the vote comes. With the exception of running back Venric Mark, Siemian will likely be the most-visible Northwestern player next season. He'll be taking over for his former teammate and the man spearheading this unionization campaign: Kain Colter.
"It's new to all of us," Siemian said. "We don't have many guys coming in that have aspirations of joining a union at Northwestern. So it's new, and guys just have to gather the facts and you go from there."