Interim NU head football coach David Braun earlier this summer. Credit:

Northwestern University has named its defensive coordinator as interim head football coach for the upcoming season, following the firing of coaching legend Pat Fitzgerald.

And there is apparently no way David Braun can be linked to the hazing scandal that led to Fitzgerald’s downfall, because Braun was just hired in January 2023, after all of the reported incidents took place.

Still, the reality of what Braun is stepping into cannot be overlooked.

In a quote on the NU sports website, Braun says, “The opportunity to coach this team at this crucial moment in its history is not something I take lightly, and I’m grateful for the trust placed in me by [Athletic Director Derrick] Gragg and Northwestern leadership.”

Braun was previously defensive coordinator at midsize football power North Dakota State, where he contributed to winning two Football Championship Subdivision national championships.

He is a 2008 graduate of Winona State University in Minnesota.

In some ways, Braun is in a “no-lose” situation.

Expectations for the Wildcats coming off a 1-11 season last year were already low, and Fitzgerald’s termination has caused several recruits to bail on NU. (Fitzgerald has denied knowledge of the hazing).

If the Wildcats do poorly this fall, no one will be surprised.

But if Northwestern can improve even slightly, it will be a plus for Braun, and for the players who remain.

Northwestern football players work out on Friday. Credit: Jennifer Fisher

The interim coach also said, “Our focus today and every day moving forward is on supporting these men, many of whom have been on campus for several weeks, in their preparation for the 2023 football season and the 2023-24 academic year.”

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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