Wednesday, November 07, 2001

McCarney 'An Excellent Football Coach'

No one has a greater appreciation for what Dan McCarney has done as Iowa State’s football coach than Bill Snyder.

“I told Dan after the game that I think he does as fine a job as anyone in this conference, and I honestly believe that,’’ said Snyder, whose Kansas State team steamrolled the Cyclones, 42-3, last week in Ames.

“I’ve known Dan for an awfully long time, and he’s an excellent football coach. He has a nice staff of coaches who are good, quality people. I have great appreciation for his value system.

“I know how hard it is to get kids to play, and (it’s happening at Iowa State) because of Dan McCarney. He gets the most out of everybody in this program, and that’s all you can ask.’’

McCarney and Snyder worked together on Hayden Fry’s staff at Iowa. Snyder is in his 13th season at Kansas State, where has been a football miracle worker. Before he arrived, the K-State job was regarded as the worst in major-college football.

Snyder’s success has certainly not gone unnoticed. He was named National Coach of the Year in 1991, 1994 and 1998.

Then there’s Iowa State. Before McCarney arrived prior to the 1995 season, plenty of people were calling the school a football coaching graveyard. But since the start of the 2000 season, only 13 teams among 117 NCAA Division I-A schools have won more games than the Cyclones, who are 14-6 over that period.

McCarney has a 27-48 record and is 0-7 against Kansas State. Snyder is 11-2 against Iowa State.

McCarney’s team has records of 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the Big 12, and still needs one victory to be eligible for a bowl. He promised that the Cyclones would play better in a 6 p.m. game Saturday against Colorado at Jack Trice Stadium.

“We’ll come with a much better effort because our fans deserve better than what we gave them against Kansas State,’’ McCarney said.


If I ever come back in another life, I want it to be as a bowl scout.
Bowl scouts fly around the country to big collegiate football games at this time of the year every fall.

They wear blazers that might be orange, red, green, yellow or some other color, have fat expense accounts, get wined and dined a lot, talk to the coaches, like to be interviewed by sportswriters, then go back home and help decide which teams will be invited to their bowl.

Sounds like a lot of fun to me. By the way, make my blazer navy blue.
One of the guys who's been showing up in press boxes for a long time as a bowl scout is Tom Starr. He was representing the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., while attending the Iowa State-Kansas State game.

The Independence Bowl wanted Iowa State badly last year, but the Cyclones instead were tabbed by the Bowl in Phoenix, where they climaxed a 9-3 season with a 37-29 victory over Pittsburgh.

Starr is a former Iowa State sports information director, and has been with the Independence Bowl for 2 ½ years. He has also worked for the Sun and Freedom Bowls.

Starr recalled the inaugural Freedom Bowl in 1984, when Iowa’s Chuck Long passed for 461 yards and six touchdowns in a 55-17 rout of Texas.

“What was amazing about that game,’’ Starr said, “was that Dan McCarney, Bill Snyder, Barry Alvarez and Kirk Ferentz were on Hayden Fry’s Iowa coaching staff.

“Bob Stoops was the graduate assistant, and people like Long, Jonathan Hayes and Mike Stoops – who now are assistant coaches at Oklahoma under Bob Stoops – were playing for Iowa. What a cradle of coaches that was.’’

Both Iowa State and Kansas State are candidates to represent the Big 12 in the Independence Bowl. The bowl will get the No. 6 choice in the Big 12 against the No. 6 team from the Southeastern Conference.

Starr thinks highly of the Cyclones despite what happened last week.

“Iowa State has a very exciting offense,’’ he said. “Coach McCarney has done such a great job of getting the players to think they’re going to win every game they’re in. That’s a different feeling than maybe has been around here for a while.’’

A few years ago, the Independence Bowl was the subject of snickers among some fans when it was known as the Poulan Weedeater Bowl. But the snickering ceased when their team got an invitation to the game.

As any coach will tell you, there’s no such thing as a bad bowl game.

Starr said the Independence Bowl is making big strides these days.

“We’re getting our team payments up to $1.1 to $1.2 million, and we’re doing a $35 million renovation to the stadium that will be completed Dec. 1,’’ he said.


A transplanted Iowan now living in California came back for a visit, and just happened to work the Iowa-Michigan game into his schedule.

The guy is a big-time Hawkeye fan, so he’s been having a tough time of it in recent seasons.

I wanted to get his take on his favorite team. So, after he recovered from spending two days in the hospital with pneumonia, he offered some interesting opinions after the losses to Michigan and Wisconsin.

“Damn right Iowa fans can boo,’’ he writes. “What does Bowlsby think this is, the friggin’ opera? And McCann, in my humble opinion, should get out of the kitchen if he can’t take the heat.

“Same for Ferentz. If I spend $30-$40 for ‘entertainment’ and I don’t like it, I can boo. Last I checked, North America didn’t fall under Taliban control.

“McCann played like a wounded animal at Wisconsin. Once again, Banks sparked the Hawks. And once again, McCann was put back in by Ferentz and contributed a costly fumble to the Hawkeye rally. It will be interesting to see how Ferentz handles the QB situation this week.

“The Wisconsin loss wasn’t so much about QBs. How about that defense, or lack of? Lose a couple of players and floodgates open. Boy, do they need corners. Big ones. Fast ones. Iowa obviously has other problems, too, but I still think if Ferentz can solve this problem by next fall, they can have a decent team.

“They need to be able to play man-to-man on the receivers and get out of this zone crap. Then you can blitz like hell and cause problems. That Sanders kid is a gladiator, though. I enjoy watching him demolish his body.

“I’m still forming an opinion on Ferentz, who appears to be a work in progress. The problem is, if you run him, then who would take the job? They already chased Stoops to Oklahoma. Turns out it wasn’t the great gig that Bowlsby & Co. thought it would be after that Texan turned in his spurs.’’


I’m confident Terry Allen, the former Northern Iowa football coach who was fired at Kansas this week, will surface somewhere soon.

Allen, 44, is a good football man. He was not a good fit for Kansas, but he’ll win somewhere else.

Obviously, there’s a question about the commitment Kansas has to football. It’s a basketball school, and it’s going to take some hard work by the next coach (or coaches) to change the philosophy.

The success Bill Snyder has had at nearby Kansas State made it difficult for Allen at Kansas. Indeed, it was following a 40-6 loss at Kansas State that Allen learned he wouldn’t be retained. Even after that, he had to suffer through a 51-6 loss to Nebraska last Saturday.

“We did our best and didn’t fulfill what we needed to do,’’ Allen said. “Success in this league is very difficult. This is the toughest league in college football.’’


I hear that three members of the sports department – Tom Witosky, Bryce Miller and Jeff Olson – have been interviewed for the vacant columnist job at the paper.
This is the job that staffers were told would be filled by the start of the football season. Trouble was, no one bothered to ask which season – 2001, 2002, 2003 or later.
The paper has suffered big-time by not having a replacement for Marc Hansen, who left to take Rob Borsellino’s place as a newsside columnist. Nancy Clark has had to do all of the column-writing in addition to serving two nights a week on the sports copy desk.

My solution to the situation would have been to bring Hansen back to write sports columns for the Sunday paper during the collegiate football season.

Hansen could have been sent to, say, the Iowa State game and Clark could have been assigned to the Iowa game. The assignments could have been rotated the following week.

Oh, well. It probably makes too much sense.


Another thing I’d like to know is this: Whatever happened to the paper’s NFL coverage? When I worked there, we’d cover a pro game on Sunday if we were at a nearby collegiate game on Saturday.

The problem couldn’t be called m-o-n-e-y, could it?

I think I’m right.

Sad. Very sad.

Vol. 1, No. 5
Nov. 7, 2001