Comparing the Fans of Iowa State and Baylor, Pt. 1

Yeah, I know. No "BaylorFan" wants to see a comparison of Dan McCarney, the head football coach from Iowa State and Kevin Steele, the head football coach from Baylor. They've already discussed it briefly, very briefly on message boards and say the situations are totally different. But this isn't just about the two coaches - most of the article compares the fans of the two schools and how they almost mirror each other in their comments about the two coaches after year three, during year four.

One can only imagine the two ends of the spectrum college football coaches find themselves during football season. Coaches who have great recruiting classes and find themselves ranked among the top teams in the county find it a bit more relaxing among the fan base, although some fans, no matter what, unless the team is #1 in the country, are never going to be totally satisfied. Even then, some can and will always find something "wrong" with the program, I suppose because it's not them running it.

Then, you have coaches on the other end of the spectrum who are trying to rebuild a program, or having a down couple or few years. No matter what many of these coaches do, or try to do, it's never quick enough, it's never good enough, nor is it ever quite enough to suit those in the fan base who are never satisfied. For those coaches, among their own fans, it can be brutal, harsh, and assaulting.

This article, however isn't going to talk about the similarities between two coaches. Rather, it is going to speak of the almost "predictable" attitudes and feelings among the two coach's fans after the same approximate time into their present coaching jobs.

For those who don't know, Dan McCarney first stepped on the field as the head coach of Iowa State in the fall of 1995. This was the final year of the "Big 8" and the year before the "Big 12." McCarney's record that first season was 3-8. The next season it was "The Big 12" and the record dropped a win to 2-9. One of those losses was to Baylor, which got its first and only Big 12 win in what would be a 4-7 season for the Bears. Of course, one thing Dan McCarney had those first two years was Troy Davis, a supreme running back who was primarily it, for Iowa State. Had it not been for him, it could have been worse. In McCarney's third season, second for the Big 12, the won-loss record dipped again - this time to 1-10. That lone victory came against these same Baylor Bears, 24-17 in Iowa against first year head coach, Dave Roberts. Then, during the 1998 season, the Cyclones of Iowa State's record matched the 3-8 of McCarney's first season. Ironically, the fifth year was the year it all began to turn as the Cyclones improved to 4-7, and it was also Kevin Steele's first season with the Bears.

In 1999, Steele's first season, the Bears went 1-1-10, then each year the team was able to improve on its wins, consistently, one game at a time. In 2000 the record was 2-9, and in 2001 the record was 3-8. However, one key, missing ingredient was that none of the six wins in three years were against conference opponents. That seemed to be the single, biggest rub among the "discontented" fan base.

However, that information is only background. This article is about the "disgruntled fans" and how they mirror each other during the fist four years of these two coaches.

In preparation for this article, I went over to the Iowa State site in TheInsiders' Network, and asked them how they "really felt" about their present head coach during those first four years when his record was "not very good."

CYlent Bob:
Mac had 3 things going for him during his first years: 1) Dan McCarney has one hell of an intense presence. All you have to do is spend a few minutes listening to him talk about where he wants to take the program, and you'll be willing to drink the kool-aid. This HAD to help him keep his job during the first 3 years. 2) Mac had no previous head coaching experience when he came to ISU. Personally, I thought he'd have a learning curve to struggle up before he knew what he was doing, and I think a lot of the other fans felt the same way. If he had come to ISU from another program and started out the way he did, he might be coaching somewhere else right now. 3) The first 2 years at ISU were the "Troy Davis Show". ISU gained national attention from giving the ball to Troy, not from winning games. The fans got to come out & watch a true freak on the field, and winning was just a bonus. I think this hurt Mac's public perception for the next 2 or 3 years after Troy left for the NFL, but the near misses of '99 and the breakout of '00 helped seal his future here.

The ISU program had been down so long, I think a number of fans thought that only a truly big name could pull in enough recruits to make a difference. And most fans realized there was no way the athletic dept. could attract someone and afford his salary demands.

This article was so lengthy, due to mainly the long comments by the Iowa State fans, that it had to be made into two parts. I felt it was important not to edit the comments and have some feel that the editing changed the comments from what they were intended to reflect. Part two will pick up with the fans' comments and then compare the Iowa State situation back then, with the present situation at Baylor.

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