At Northwestern, the term "ownership" normally refers to upperclassmen taking control of the team.
When NU coach Pat Fitzgerald used the word Monday, he meant it in a different way. His coaches and players have "owned" up to failing to come through late in games last season — specifically at Iowa (bad penalty), at Nebraska (Hail Mary) and against Michigan (dropped interceptions).
"I don't think it's luck," he said. "You get what you earn. What did (Bill) Parcells say: 'You are what your record says it is.' And we were not good enough. You can use it as a negative or you can use it as a motivator. We'll drive to get better."
Northwestern lost seven straight last season, sandwiched between a 4-0 start and a victory at Illinois.
"We want to get back to where we've been," Fitzgerald said, "competing for championships."
Remember him? Fitzgerald said tailback Venric Mark, who redshirted during a season of hamstring and ankle injuries, will be "ready to go" Monday at NU's first practice.
Mark rushed for 1,366 yards in 2012 and was named an All-America punt returner. But he didn't even make the 53-player Doak Walker Award Watch List. Among those who did: Penn State's Bill Belton, Minnesota's David Cobb and Illinois' Josh Ferguson.
"Preseason hype all goes back to what you did last year," Fitzgerald said. "He has been out of sight, out of mind. But every coach knows exactly who he is."
Little bit country: With union questions swirling in the spring, quarterback Trevor Siemian asserted himself as a team leader — or maybe the team leader.
"This is his football team," Fitzgerald said. "He stepped up and imposed who he is, what's important to him and his leadership style. … He has a Luke Bryan type of personality."
"Doesn't he look like Luke Bryan? Don't you know who Luke Bryan is? C'mon, man," Fitzgerald joked. "I'm not going to help you out. Do some research. He's one of the hottest country singers in the world."
Extra points: Fitzgerald clarified the comment he made last week to boosters after the NGN golf outing. Fitzgerald called Nebraska "a pretty boring state" in reference to how well Cornhuskers fans travel to road games. He added Monday: "It's just a great fan base. I have nothing but respect. … I was really challenging our fans (to fill Ryan Field when the teams meet Oct. 18)." … Fitzgerald reiterated he'd love to see a bowl game played at Wrigley Field. … NU players broke 176 weight-room records this summer. (Then again, other schools have weight rooms too.)