McCarney Media Day Presser

Iowa State head coach Dan McCarney met with the media Monday afternoon in Ames. Here is a complete transcription of his media day press conference.

Opening comments:

"Thanks for coming. It's an unbelievable day out there for Media Day. I know we're all used to going out there and sweating through two shirts, at least I know I do. We have a beautiful day so I really do appreciate everyone coming. It's great to have you here. It was really, really good to get out there on the field and get started this morning. We had an early morning conditioning check for the newcomers and some of them were in real good shape. Some of them weren't. We had practice for the first time and I thought it went real well overall. We got a lot done. It was just shorts so we were limited, but the tempo was good and the retention was good by the upperclassmen. Of course you're really coaching on the run with all the newcomers. They have trouble figuring out left from right when they have all of this new stuff thrown at them. I thought we got a lot done this morning."

"We got a lot done today already I think. It's an exciting time for all of us. Every time you get a chance to start a new season you get a chance each year to gather as a football team and define how you want to be remembered. That's the great thing about a new season. There are new faces, new coaches in some cases, new season and you really, really get to start from scratch as we have and try to define what kind of team we want to have this year. It's an exciting time."

"I'll give you an update on some things and then open it up for questions like we always do. We have 25 days until kick-off and we have a lot of work to do, obviously. We have a lot to get done. There were 32 newcomers that reported today. The only one that's not here is Matt Kimble. I announced that weeks ago that he didn't make his qualifying test score. We're only waiting on one other young man, from a clearinghouse standpoint, but we feel real good that 28 of the 29 we signed this year will be back and be here with us and be available. We hate to lose anyone but when the numbers are as high as that class was with 29, if we can finish with 28 or 29 that's a real, real good batting average and I'm pleased with that."

"We won't have any academic updates until Wednesday. That's the last day for academic qualification. I think that we're going to be, and I feel real good right now without being arrogant about it and until you see it in writing, but I think we have a real good chance to have all of our players that were with us in the spring back with us this fall. Donald Reed and Chad Grotegut and all of them do a tremendous job. We don't take any shortcuts. We try to support and motivate our kids as much as we can, but I think we have a chance to have this whole team academically eligible."

"Our leadership is strong. You might know that I didn't elect captains in the spring like I normally do. I appointed position leaders before summer workouts began. They were in charge of the leadership, the discipline, problems with the volunteer part of voluntary workouts. The players handle that, the coaches don't. They did a real good job of that. We'll elect captains here in a couple of weeks before we break camp and I know we're going to have some good, strong leaders on this football team."

"The only injury update is Josh Griebahn, our kicker that we red-shirted last year. Frankly, going through the problems he had this summer kicking and a little bit in the spring, it was really an injury from high school. It's something that's been bothering him off and on for awhile so he had surgery on his ankle to put a pin in it. He'll be gone for a few weeks. He was red-shirted last year so the clock is really going. If he can get back and challenge for a place this season, great, and we wish him well, but he's not with us right now and he won't be with us for a number of weeks."

"Bobby Chalk was suspended for a problem off the field. He's with the team. He won't play in the first game but he will practice. He's academically qualified for school and he is with us."

"I am really proud of the character and integrity and the leadership of this football team. A lot of that gets lost in the shuffle when one or two guys don't make good decisions and they get involved in something, guilty or not guilty, I'm not going to get into that. I've got a great group of young people and I've got a great staff that spends hours and days and weeks and months talking about being a good example, being a role model, making people proud."

"I talked to the team last night at the team meeting and I told them that they were going to hear something that I talk about all the time. One of the most important goals with me and this program is for you to, as an individual, make your family proud at home and for this football family to be proud of you with your actions on and off the field, with your behavior, your sportsmanship, your integrity, your character, your decisions. It's one of the most important things that I preach to my guys about."

"Todd Fitch, I'll give you an update there. Things have gone real well through the summer. He's just had a tremendous attitude and shown all kinds of mental toughness and perseverance. He's in surgery as we speak at Rochester Mayo. We think this will, hopefully, be the final phase because things went real well through all the treatments. There were a couple of things they wanted to go in and take a look at from a surgery standpoint. If it's scar tissue, if it's benign, there is a real good chance that Todd will be back coaching with us within the next 10 days. If there's something more serious, then he may be gone for awhile yet from the program."

"The temporary plan is that Terry Allen has the quarterbacks, and Shawn Coughlin and Barry Cotton have the offensive line and tight ends. If it turns into where Todd may be gone for a longer period of time, we have another plan in place for that. For the time being, Todd will not be here. He's a great example of, and we talk about this all the time, that no matter what the magnitude of an obstacle, you can really indeed overcome it and still go on and lead a real significant life. There's not a better example that we have and that I can talk about than the quarterback coach with this program. It has really drawn our football family closer together and it's really drawn the quarterbacks closer to Coach Fitch and his family. Our thoughts and prayers right now are with Todd and we're hoping to get some more good news from Rochester, Minn., as the day goes on."

"We have some great battles that are going on. We have two weeks of camp and then two weeks of school/practices to get ready for the first game. I mentioned this before last spring but we're facing three teams that won 10 games last year. All of them have many, many of their top players back. The challenge is going to be very, very high as the weeks and the months come ahead with our schedule, but there's nothing more important to me right now than Northern Iowa. Not one thing. I have great tunnel vision and I have to make sure my coaches and my football team has that same tunnel vision. We couldn't care less about anything but zeroing in on that game and trying to get better each day and each practice and be the best program and best football team we can be."

On moving Tyson Smith back to DE:

"I don't anticipate that. That will be a last resort for us. Right now, Shawn Moorehead is one of our most improved players on our team in the spring. We're going to take a look at Collins Eboh and Travis Ferguson, no doubt. They were two of the best players in the state of Iowa last year. I saw that this morning, even in shorts. We're also going to take a look at Korey Smith. Then, if we're not satisfied, we know we can always move Tyson down. He made so much progress as a linebacker and right now, we look better at the linebacker position than at any time I've been here and Tyson has a lot to do with that."

On newcomers contributing right away:

"It's just too early. We'll learn an awful lot more in the next couple of weeks. Until we can go out there live and get pads on, we just won't know. Terrance Highsmith came in from a junior college and he's a quarterback/wide receiver. We're going to take a look at him at both positions this week but this morning at wide receiver he looked to me like that was his home. Now, tomorrow at quarterback he may look like that's another home. For right now, it looks like wide receiver may be his future. I like his skill and ability. He's in phenomenal athletic shape, but who knows. I've had one morning to evaluate and that's it. We'll know a lot more in the next couple of weeks."

On the secondary newcomers:

"I think they look good but we're sure not going to turn our backs on the guys that were number one in the spring. It's going to take great camps by any of those newcomers to break into the starting position. I think it's realistic for them to break in and be back-ups. I have to see a lot more to see if those guys could beat out Ellis Hobbs, good luck. I think it's going to be hard to beat any of those number ones out."

On the quarterback position:

"It's going to be a real good competition. It's healthy. I feel better walking out there this morning than I did at any time last year. The presence of Austin Flynn, Bret Meyer and Cris Love with all of his experience, Van Winkle is a comforting thought. They've been around the program awhile. We'll see how they compete. Who moves the chains, who leads, who gets into the endzone, who elevates the play of the people around him, who brings a spark to the football team will determine who starts."

On pride in the program:

"We want to make progress. We've brought the program places it's never been and then you have a temporary setback like last year. That's no fun for any of us. The newcomers weren't here 10 years ago. They didn't step into what I stepped into. They have no idea about the ridiculous environment and atmosphere and lack of facilities, non-existent facilities. They have no idea how we turned a non-existent rivalry for 15 years into a healthy rivalry. They have no idea of the intensity, the toughness, the physicality of the Big 12. That's my job, to bring them along."

"We want to do a lot of things on and off the field to make our fans proud, starting Sept. 4. I haven't seen a mass exodus of our fans and I think that goes back to the program that we have. Even though we were all sick and disappointed and hated last season, I think the fans understand we have a good program. I really love the desire and hunger of this football team and the staff right now. Anybody that keeps writing or talking about how the program is in a downward spiral, please keep doing that. Do me a favor and please keep doing that."

On the effect of Jason Berryman's suspension on the team:

"This could be a classic example of there isn't any one player more important than the team. We all have to overcome obstacles, some things you can control, some things you can't control. How you handle that adversity is one of the great measures of a head coach, of a program, of a staff and of players that I've learned. I feel real good about the chemistry of the team. I feel that this team is going to rally no matter who is here or who isn't here.

On the running backs:

"We're just going to keep evaluating them. It's going to be hard to get into the mix with the two that we have right now. Stevie Hicks is in phenomenal shape. He looks real good. Jason Scales has been here for a semester and that has really helped him out. Stevie is definitely the number one guy. He's determined and he's got a great look in his eyes. He's talked publicly and openly about how he didn't work hard enough last year to be a Big 12 kind of running back. That's not easy to admit those kind of things. It shows his maturity. I think we have a chance to have a real solid position there for us. Let's get back to running the football again. We have good talent at that position this year."

On punter/place kicker Tony Yelk:

"I have a lot of faith in Tony. If he stays healthy and things go well, I think he go out there and have a really outstanding senior year."

On Barney Cotton:

"I love his personality and his persona. Most of the time I've seen a football team take on the personality of its coach and position coaches and coordinators. I ask and demand that of my coaches, so if they're not playing with a lot of toughness or focus or heart, I look right at the guy that's coaching them. As a head coach, if a team isn't performing as it should, then it's a direct reflection back on me. With Barney coaching those guys, he's tough, he believes in the team, he believes that you've got to win the battles in the trenches, he believes in teaching pride. He's a dark alley guy all the way, but he's got great compassion and he loves those kids and is building a real strong relationship with them."

On the team mentality:

"If you can get a football team, coaches and players alike, and nobody cares who gets the credit but you just find a way to get it done and win, you really have a chance to succeed. It's one of the great things about football because it's a true team sport. 'Forget yourself and others so that others will never forget you' is the epitome of being unselfish. If you don't care who got the tackle or who threw the touchdown pass, don't worry about who did but just get it done is a measure of a great team. That's what we have to try to do as a team. We're going to be young at many of our positions and we're going to be the underdog in many of our games but I think we have a lot of kids on our team that really understand that attitude."

On the 2003 football season:

"You don't get it all out of your mind. There are things that happened last year that I want to make sure never happen again. As far as my focus, my motivation, my inspiration and my drive, it's this team and these kids. I want to make sure we get the most out of them and I want to make people proud. I want people to come to these stands again really proud of this program."

On his 10th season at ISU:

"I've learned a lot. I'm a better coach and a better person since I've been here because of the experiences here and the good things and the bad things. I'm better prepared now. And even though we didn't have the season we wanted to last year, there were some things that I did as a head coach that I was proud of. Hopefully, those things will help us this season and in the seasons ahead. I'm real, real appreciative of this. There isn't much stabililty in college. I'm humble and I'm appreciative to be here longer than any previous coach but I'm also as driven as I've ever been."

On central Iowa recruits:

"It's important. Hopefully, I'm going to have good players and leaders in state and out of state, but the bottom line is that there were some real quality players in this state last year. I think they're about to leave a real mark on this program and have great careers here at Iowa State. If we're not doing a good job in the state of Iowa, then it just hurts me because I'm from Iowa and I know the kind of talent that the state can produce."


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