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CN's Brian Burt in Houston to meet with ISU Coach Dan McCarney. Here's what the coach had to say on the Iowa game, the differences between the Big 12 North and South and Todd Blythe's recovery.

Iowa State Head Coach Dan McCarney


Nice to see everybody. God bless it! I thought that I answered all the questions up there. I guess not!


On the statement of when you ask six people who's going to win the North, you get six different answers:


McCarney: That's what's exciting about it! One of the reasons I think clearly why the South was better than the North last year in all of the years that I've been here was because the North was so young. I mean, it really was.


Iowa State wasn't the only team with a bunch of young guys out there. We weren't the only team with freshmen and sophomores playing. The North was loaded with young guys, and you look at all six of those teams coming back right now and check the rosters like we have, check the returning starters, and there's a whole bunch of them coming back. I think that's why it's wide open. The race is real wide open, and it's gonna be a helluva race.


On the arms race and the difference in budgets and facilities between the North and South


McCarney: Oh, I check it out once in a while. One of the amazing things when I go out to these outings in the summertime, and I had 17 of them in the month of June, it's kinda amazing, there's only eight teams in America, eight of them, who had a bowl champion football team and men's and women's basketball teams that went to the NCAA, and one of those eight teams was Iowa State, and we're sitting there with one of the lowest budgets in college athletics, and either the lowest or next to lowest budget in the Big 12.


We still found a way to still do this. But in this lifetime, would I like to have Ohio State or Oklahoma or Texas' budget, hell yes that would be fun one time. That would be fun one time! That'd be fun!


On the national expectations of the Iowa game on September 10


McCarney: Well, you know, the first thing that I want to say is that the most important game is the first one because half of the teams in America will be 1-0 and the other half will be 0-1, and if you understand that, it's going to be real important.


If we say "let's get ready for Iowa" and not Illinois State, we'll get our butts handed to us. With that thought in mind, and hopefully our preparation will be strong, and the local games are important. The night games, our fans love ‘em, I hate ‘em, but my fans love ‘em because they can drink all day long and get ready for that game at night. But it will be a real important game because as I mentioned, half of the teams in America will be 1-0, and we hope to be one of them.


The next week we get to play an outstanding Iowa team. They've won the last two, but we've won five out of the last seven. America is starting to realize that it is a big rivalry. There were 28 bowl champions and two of them happen to be from the state of Iowa. I think there's going to be two real good football teams and two real good coaching staffs match wits and match intensity and preparation and emotions and everything else, and a lot of the country will get to see them with ABC doing that game, and it doesn't surprise me that they did that game since both teams are defending bowl champions.


On Todd Blythe starting at the beginning of the year:


McCarney: I wasn't sure, but this kid is real special. There's not many that come along like this. He has more touchdown receptions than any receiver in the Big 12 conference, and the kid's a freshman. When he went down, to do some of the things that he was doing physically even after he had the injury, like knee bends, before the surgery, he tried to tell the doctor, "you better check this thing again, go check that MRI again because I don't think it's an ACL because I can do knee bends."


Well, it was torn. It was clearly torn, but whether it's genes or a combination of genes and attitude, his work ethic, he's doing everything that everyone on our football is doing right now. Matt McGettigan, who is the one evaluator that we have this time of the year, our strength coach, said he's in better shape now, and he's faster and stronger, and he's better than he's ever been since he's been here while watching him work out.


He's catching the ball, working 7 on 7, they got their legs tangled up the other night. They were in a 7-on-7 drill, they told me the story where he went down and jumped right back up and started giggling and laughing like there was nothing wrong. I'm glad that I didn't see that. I'm glad that I missed that. He will start, unless something happens between now and when we open September 3. He's doing everything that all our guys are doing. He's in phenomenal shape right now, so he'll be a real inspiration to all our kids that go through injuries for years to come.


On how favorable it was to not have Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech on the schedule and for the chances of winning the Big 12 North:


McCarney: The Big 12 is loaded. There's all kinds of good players. To say that we're not playing those teams slights the ones that we are going to play. There's lots of good teams. There's all kinds of good coaches. I think our conference has great balance and lots of good teams, lots of good players, lots of good coaches. I think, we just hope that we're going to be in the hunt for this thing. We hope we're going to be in the battle and in the race, because how many last year asked about the possibility – ‘Mac what do you think about going into the last game of the year on ABC, and if you make a kick your butt is going to Kansas City.'


How many guys would have been sitting here saying that's a great idea? That's a nice thought, and we really think that you're the one going to do that next year, Mac. So, anything can happen in the season. We think with the nucleus of kids that we have coming back, the character and kind of kids that we have, when it's all said and done, we can have a team again, when the season is over, that everyone at Iowa State can be real proud of.


On the gap between North and South


McCarney: Last year, it was factual. It just really was. You look at scores, look at teams, you look at North and South playing each other. I don't think there was any doubt that it's been years since I've been in the league and Bill Snyder and I both been here since the inception, there have been years where the North would have dominated the South. There was no doubt last year that the South was better. They just were.


But I know that the two co-champions won their bowl games last year. Colorado and Iowa State, we were proud of that. That was good. That was good for us. It's good for the North. It's good for the conference. And we're going to everything we can to cut down on the disparity between the North and South and make it more competitive when we do play each other with better scores and more competitive scores. We weren't very competitive last year.


On the idea of North and South divisions:


McCarney: I think it's great. I've been here since its inception, and I'd also leave it at North and South just like it is now. We're going to play Iowa. We're going to play all the teams in the north. We're going to play three teams from the south and we're going to rotate every two years. I'm not smart enough to figure out any of that other stuff. Just leave it like it is. I like the way we do it now, and I hope we keep it this way.


On Jason Berryman:


McCarney: Up to this point, he's done everything we've asked of him. I've tried to have an impact on his life. I'm trying again to have a real positive impact on his life. He's done everything I've asked of him as a student, as a citizen, and in the workout stuff there's not anything that doesn't surprise me.


I didn't want to measure him to see if can run hard, conditioning and compete. I knew he could do those things. I want to see what type of young man that he'd be. I want to see what type of student he'd be, and so far, so good. But I'm going to evaluate him right up through the end of the summer semester until the time we start two-a-days.


On when Berryman will be back:


McCarney: If he does what I ask him to do in the remaining time between now and the start of camp, then it's very likely that he will be back on scholarship.


On the thought process of putting Berryman back on the roster:


McCarney: Yeah, this was something that I had a lot of time to think about. He was a long way from our football team, and we played out best defense since I've been at Iowa State without him. We defied the odds. We went on and did some great things that we can all be proud of at Iowa State, and he didn't play one snap.


So I sat down with Jason time after time after time after time after he was released, not before. I didn't go see him in jail, even though he was right over there, I didn't see him one time. I talked to his father one time, and that was right when he was arrested. But I did talk to Jason many, many, many, many times before I made the decision to say I will give you the opportunity to be evaluated this summer.


I believe in him, and time will tell whether it was the right decision or not. In my heart and my mind, it was the right decision. I think that I can have an impact on his life. The thing that stood out with me and his evaluation and my evaluation of him is that he is taking complete and total responsibility for his mistakes, as they were.


He has paid a price, and yet the easiest thing for Jason, by far, was to pack his bags and get along out of Ames. The easiest thing for me was by far to say that you're not coming back to Iowa State and go on to some place else. There were a lot of Division I teams that contacted him and a lot of junior college teams that contacted him. The hardest thing for Jason and me was to say, "Come on back and see if we can make this thing work. I'll give you an opportunity and evaluate you this summer." He's not back on the team, but I'm giving the opportunity to be evaluated. I just believe in my heart that there's a lot of good in this kid, and I'm going to try and help him.


On instant replay:


McCarney: I think it's a great idea. I'd love to have had it for the Florida State game, the Eddie Robinson Classic, loved to have it for the Alabama game in the Independence Bowl. I think that it's a great idea.


I talked to the Big 10 coaches, and they said that they'll leave it to the guys in the box. We'll leave to the officials and the observers, and we'll stay out of it. There will be a Big 12 observer who will make those decisions. The thing you don't want to do is lengthen this thing. We all want the same thing. Don't lengthen it, and with the television that we have and love in the Big 12, don't lengthen the games anymore than we have to.


Frankly, we don't have the financial situation to do the same thing with the technology that the NFL has. It takes a bunch of money to do what the NFL is doing for instant replay. So, let's leave to those guys on the sidelines and let them talk to the officials in the box and we'll go from there. Last year, I did not agree to it when we played Iowa because there had not been any experiments. There wasn't any precedents in college football, and there was going to be a Big 12 crew with a Big 10 observer who was up there making the decision. I wasn't comfortable with it because there was no precedent.


This year, they've organized it and agreed to it where there's a Big 10 crew and a Big 12 observer, and I feel better about it because it has already been working and up and running for a year. There will be a Big 12 observer in the box, which will probably be a retired Big 12 referee. This guy's going to be making these calls, and I feel very comfortable because of the track record and the professionalism of these observers.


On talking to Barry Alvarez or Kirk Ferentz about instant replay:


McCarney: I talked to four different Big 10 coaches, and Barry and Kirk were two of them, and I wanted to get an idea and the bottom line was they felt like for the first year and its inception that the Big 10 officials overall did a great job on it.


On the changes of the Bowl Championship Series:


McCarney: I've been doing this thing for 35 years now, and I've been around Kevin (Weiberg) for a long time, and I know that he heads up the BCS right now. I trust the guy. I trust Kevin with the job that he's doing. You know there's going to be adjustments made every year. There's going to be some things we've talked about where no one's going to be in 1000% agreement. It's either going to be right formula, but I trust the guy.


I know going to work every day at Iowa State, Kevin heading up our conference as our commissioner is as good as we can hire. If he's as good as we can hire in our conference that he should be good for the BCS and its evaluation and its formula for the future.


On voting in the polls:


McCarney: Absolutely, I'm going to vote. It's the last regular season vote. If they go to a weekly vote, I'm not going to do it anymore. I've been doing it since the day I took the job. This is my 11th season of voting. I've done my own voting, not Tom Kroeschell, not one of my assistants, not my wife. I've been handling all of that myself. But if they start going to a weekly release, I'm not going to do it.


On the players coming back this fall:


McCarney: We've got a good group of kids coming back. We coached, practiced and played with our backs against the wall last year, you know what, that's been our mentality since we came to Iowa State, and that will never change.





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