Florida Gators lose Craig Fitzgerald to Boston College, Bill O’Brien

by | Feb 11, 2024 | 0 comments

Craig Fitzgerald Leaving

The Florida Gators recently completed the “Foundation” stage of their offseason schedule. However, they lost a crucial component of their transformation as the Director of Football Performance, Craig Fitzgerald, decided to leave Gainesville for a strength and conditioning position at Boston College. Boston College recently hired Bill O’Brien, who has a longstanding relationship with Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald shared in a statement:

“It is with a heavy heart that I announce my decision to leave the University of Florida Football program. After much thought, I have decided to join my decade-long coaching friend Bill O’Brien at Boston College. Bill and I have worked together for almost 10 years and although it excites me rejoin him, it pains me to leave a program with such bright future made up hard-working, committed and fine young men and staff. The culture of competitiveness, professionalism and dedication inside this building was evident in my short time here. I am grateful to Coach Napier for this opportunity and I wish the Gators the best moving forward.”

Bill O’Brien was hired at Boston College on February 9th, and unsurprisingly, he has targeted Craig Fitzgerald. Their collaboration began at Maryland. Later, when O’Brien became the head coach at Penn State, he appointed Fitzgerald as his Director of Strength and Conditioning. Fitzgerald worked with O’Brien for two years at Penn State. When O’Brien moved to the Houston Texans as the head coach, he once again brought Fitzgerald on board to oversee his strength and conditioning program.

This was a difficult decision for Fitzgerald. However, given that he is from Pennsylvania, his wife is from New York, and their children grew up in that area, his relationship with O’Brien seemed like a perfect fit from his perspective.

Florida head coach Billy Napier offers his thoughts on Fitzgerald leaving:

“I want to thank Fitz for doing a great job during the five weeks he’s been at Florida. He’s a very professional and well-respected individual and has been a great resource for our players and our organization. We understand that these decisions are part of the profession and we all have been put in these dynamics at one point or another. As I’ve said before, this game is about relationships and coach O’Brien and Coach Fitz’s relationship goes way back. We have a ton of respect for Fitz and are thankful for what he did for our team. We also have a great group of strength assistants and sports science staff that I have a lot confidence in. We’ll regroup and we’ll evaluate the situation and make another great decision for our team. We’re fortunate to be at the University of Florida and are able to attract the very best in the country.”

Just last week, Napier spoke for the first time publicly on why he hired Fitzgerald and his work so far:

“We’re fortunate to have the guy. He’s obviously very knowledgeable, he’s got great experience, he’s coached in the National Football League for eight of the last 10 years. He’s revived programs: South Carolina, Tennessee, Penn State. Well-regarded in the space. I think Coach Spurrier, obviously his experience with Fitz in the past, there’s a common connection there, not to mention his time with the New York Giants, Tennessee, where we had Bill O’Brien with Penn State. There’s a number of kind of common connections here. And his desire to be at the University of Florida. What I was intrigued with, was he was excited about being back at the collegiate level and the connection piece, the opportunity for him to actually be involved in the development of a college player and the gratification he gets from that. We got great reviews so far from the players. I think, ultimately, it’s about them having belief in what you’re doing. He’s exceptional.”

Just a couple of weeks ago on Gators Breakdown, Florida running back Treyaun Webb lauded Fitzgerald as well.

With the new strength staff, led by Fitzgerald, there was a heightened attention to detail and a reinforced standard of performance. Webb praised the new regime, saying, “Coach Fitz is a great dude, he knows what he’s doing.”

The primary objective for the 2024 season, under Fitzgerald’s guidance, was to grow bigger and stronger. Webb emphasized Fitzgerald’s focus on physical development, stating, “He’s focused on us getting bigger. I feel like the difference between last year and this year, I’m not as sore as far as my hamstrings and stuff. I feel refreshed. So, I feel like the whole staff is way different from last year. The whole program was way different and I feel like it’s better for us.”

In a short period, Fitzgerald garnered considerable praise. Now, the Gators are seeking a replacement at an unusual time.

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