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Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald pushes for bowl game in Chicago

Northwestern University Football Coach PFitzgerald moderated panel sailor-athletes Naval StatiGreLakes Thursday April 14 2011. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

Northwestern University Football Coach Pat Fitzgerald moderated a panel of sailor-athletes at Naval Station Great Lakes on Thursday, April 14, 2011. | Ryan Pagelow~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 29, 2011 12:37AM

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald believes if New York can host a bowl game, why can’t Chicago?

Fitzgerald appeared on “Waddle and Silvy” on Tuesday on ESPN Radio (1000-AM) as part of the Lunch With a Legend series. Fitzgerald reminisced about the Illinois-NU game at Wrigley Field last November that brought up talk about bringing a bowl to Chicago. New York hosts the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 30 at Yankee Stadium, pitting the Big 12 against the Big East.

Despite the quirky field setup that forced both offenses to move in the same direction because of safety issues, Fitzgerald said the game still had the feel of a bowl.

“It just added another element for Chicago to host a bowl game,” Fitzgerald said. “That’s the only thing missing [in college football]: a bowl game in Chicago. I think the Chicagoland market would embrace it.”

Two venues stood out to Fitzgerald: Soldier Field and U.S. Cellular Field.

“I have no insider information, but this is the home base of the Big Ten, and the city loves college football,” said Fitzgerald, who will throw out the first pitch before the White Sox game Friday.

College football season unofficially starts this week with Big Ten Media Days at McCormick Place. With all the hot topics set to be hashed out — the Jim Tressel resignation at Ohio State, pay-for-play and other off-the-field issues — Fitzgerald doesn’t believe the addition of Nebraska will be the topic it was last year.

“A year ago, expansion was a huge topic,” Fitzgerald said. “But now we’ve had a year to adjust to it, and I don’t think it will be discussed as much.”

The Wildcats open camp with freshmen reporting Aug. 6. The first practice is scheduled for Aug. 8.

Fitzgerald said senior quarterback Dan Persa is ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from a torn Achilles tendon. Fitzgerald said Persa is throwing every day and is 100 percent healed.

It has been eight months since Persa ruptured the tendon in a victory against Iowa at Ryan Field. Fitzgerald said the rehab from an injury such as Persa’s takes about 12 to 18 months.

“I’ve been asked about him at every function I’ve gone to this summer,” Fitzgerald said. “I never get tired of talking about Dan, but I’m tired of [talking] about it for him.”

With the NFL lockout finally over, Fitzgerald praised former Wildcats defensive tackle Corbin Bryant, who signed with the Bears on Monday as an undrafted free agent. Bryant joins another former Wildcat in Corey Wootton.

Another former Wildcat, linebacker Quentin Davie, signed with the Detroit Lions on Monday.

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