Cotton got the nod after interviewing well with McCarney last week in Orlando, Fla. It was also rumored that former Central Michigan coach Mike DeBord, a former offensive coordinator at Michigan, interviewed for the job.
He was hired as Nebraska's offensive coordinator last season, but never was really entrusted with total control of the Husker attack by Frank Solich, who had called the offensive plays as head coach prior to the 2003 season. However, the 47-year old Cotton proved to be one of the country's top offensive minds during his time at New Mexico State. Cotton's unit ranked in the top 25 in total offense three times in his six season, including a showing of 13th in 1998.
McCarney's determination to return ISU's run game to national prominence is reflected in the hire, as Cotton's rush offense ranked in the top 25 nationally in each of his six seasons. And with McCarney returning sophomore Stevie Hicks and signing as many as four freshmen tailbacks in the Class of 2004, getting a ground-oriented offensive coordinator was crucial for the Cyclones.
The hiring should prove beneficial in the world of recruiting as well. Cotton's background in Nebraska, West Texas and New Mexico could open up more doors for the ISU coaching staff.
Prior to beginning his career in coaching Cotton played under Tom Osbourne at Nebraska and was an All-Big Eight selection in 1978. He went on to play four years in the NFL for the Cincinnati Bengals and St. Louis Cardinals.
Cotton's hiring leaves the Cyclones with one more vacancy on the coaching staff – quarterbacks coach. Brickey had fulfilled the roles of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, while Marty Fine coached the offensive line. Fine and Brickey were fired on the same day in early December.