Northwestern has had discussions with former NFL and college coach Dave Wannstedt and others about a special assistant role for the 2023 season.
Wannstedt told WSCR radio in Chicago on Thursday that he spoke with Northwestern athletic director Derrick Gragg over the weekend about possibly joining the coaching staff, but eventually removed himself from consideration. Northwestern last week named defensive coordinator David Braun as interim coach for the 2023 season, but the school is looking into adding a veteran coach to assist him, sources told ESPN.
Wannstedt, who coached Pitt from 2005 to 2010 and has led the Chicago Bears and Miami Dolphins, told WSCR that he viewed the position differently than Northwestern did and had concerns about what the role would be.
“What’s the role of this guy? You bring somebody else in that’s going to be there every day and be in the press box and involved in the playcalling, you’re going to lose the players,” Wannstedt said. “The players need to be playing for their head coach. The coaches need to know they’re coaching with the head coach, is their guy, or everybody’s going to sit on their hands.”
Wannstedt said Northwestern also reached out to Skip Holtz, a longtime college coach now leading the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions, but sources told ESPN’s Pete Thamel that Holtz will not be joining the school. Northwestern has yet to fill the vacancy on the staff following coach Pat Fitzgerald’s firing July 10. The school is facing multiple lawsuits over allegations of hazing, racial discrimination and other mistreatment within the program.
Northwestern is retaining all of its assistant coaches and support staff for the 2023 season, set to begin Sept. 3 at Rutgers.