The fact of the matter is that a lot of young/new Cyclone fans don't realize how much of a dump ISU was in terms of facilities, coaching, athletes, wins, bowl games, etc.
1. BOWL GAMES/CONTENTION FOR CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
First on the list is bowl games/contention for a chance at conference championships. This is a big success of Coach McCarney's that sticks out to me. While ISU's all-time record against foes isn't appealing to the eyes since Mac has taken the helm at ISU, it is important that we look back at the early to mid 1990's when Coach Mac took over. The make-up of the team was so bad, that as a coach you try to run off all the people that aren't in it for one common goal. The teams in the early McCarney years were not competitive, they didn't know how to win, and the program was far from respectable. Look at the past four to five years. All you see is bowl game after bowl game, two seasons were the Big XII Conference Championship was within reach, and big time wins for the program. Sure, a lot of fans will say that ISU can't ever win the big game. You look back at those games, and you can say all you want about the coaching. Being a former player, those are the situations that players put themselves in. All the things that happen on the field are situations the players put themselves in. Coaches have to coach, and players have to perform. It is a simple formula for success. Wrapping up number one, the fact is that Coach McCarney dug ISU Football out of the sewer, and put ISU on the national map in terms of respect, winning, and post-season play. As fans, we always strive for bigger and better things. One idea is that of bowl games. Sure we would all like to go to the Orange Bowl, or the Holiday Bowl. In reality, this isn't going to happen over night, and this might not happen from one season to the next. Coach McCarney's program has been nothing but successful the past five years, and one rough season all you hear is, "Axe Mac." Come on now! Put things in perspective.
Number two on my top five this week is the facilities factor. This is a huge improvement since the early 1990's, and a lot of us do not realize this unless we have been a continuing fan or supporter of ISU Football over the past several years. When I first got to ISU, I always heard the seniors talking about where they used to practice, and how they didn't have a place to workout for football in terms of weight training. There is nothing like doing workouts outside or in some rat infested building. Ok, maybe it wasn't rat infested, but I think that you get the point. When Mac arrived at ISU, he knew he had a major task ahead of him. Since arriving, there have been a lot of changes to ISU. The Jacobson Athletic Building. This building currently houses most, if not close to all the athletic department, new seating in the end zone to promote support for the Cyclones, permanent lighting for the stadium, new practice fields that are one of the best in America due to ISU's turf management staff, the Indoor Facility, which is one of the best in college and pro football, and just recently the new student athlete academic center. I know a lot of people work on promoting these things together, but all my years at ISU, I know Coach Mac was a big reason for these. As a coach, you can have all the ideas you want for an improved program, but until you have an athletic director that will take chances and listen, those things are not happening. In the past, Coach Mac was ISU's athletic director. He did a lot of the promoting, he asked the fans for money, and he showed his sincere care for the Cyclone Fans. Presently, ISU has landed Jamie Pollard. Pollard and Mac share a lot of the same common goals, and I can't piece two better people to get the job done than these two. So keep in mind what Coach McCarney has done for ISU and ISU Football. Also keep in mind, ISU has the lowest budget in the Big XII, and Coach Mac still finds a way to get things done the right way.
3. Dump to Respectability
I briefly touched on this one earlier. ISU was an absolute dump when Coach McCarney took over in the early 1990's. It was a place that didn't have the resources to compete in the Big 8 or when it changed to the Big XII. McCarney didn't have the players to compete in the Big XII, he didn't have the facilities, and he didn't have the budget to work with. What has changed? Everything has changed, but the budget. In terms of a low budget, it is hard to accomplish great things, but Coach Mac has paved the way. He has brought integrity, respect, honor, and work ethic to not only ISU Football and athletics, but to the institution of ISU. No one ever talked about ISU being a bowl team, or being a team to contend for a conference championship. Those are all things that no one can take away from the man. He is a master motivator to his players and fans. You always hear fans saying, "Here Coach Mac goes on his spin." What the reality is Cyclone fans…is that he is a master motivator. Coach Mac will find the most negative thing and figure out a way to correct it and make it a positive success. All these things being said, Coach Mac has brought so much to ISU's program, and let's not forget what he started with at ISU, and where he has taken the program.
4. COACHING HOT SPOT/OPPORTUNITY
Fourth on the list is a coaching hot spot. ISU has been known for a place for very successful coaches to get their feet wet in coaching. You look back at all the big name coaches that have went through ISU. Steve Loney, Jimmy Johnson, DeMonte Cross, Bobby Elliot, to name a few. I know that there has been a ton of big time names go through ISU. I will keep this one short. ISU has had quality big time coaches, and they still have quality big time coaches. Coach Mac is a coach of opportunity. I guarantee you this, no single coach expects more out of his coaches than that of Coach McCarney. With all these ideas/facts, the only way you can keep quality coaches around is to up their salary. As an athletic director, you can only do so much within your budget, which makes it hard at ISU to keep big time coaches around.
Last on my weekly top five is loyalty. This is an attribute of individuals that will take you a long ways. Every since my memory can date back, Coach Mac and his staff is one of the most loyal group of coaches you can be around. They are loyal to their players, to the athletic department, to the fans, to their families, etc. These coaches won't tell you what you want to hear; rather they will tell you how it is. Coach Mac gives coaches chances, he brings back coaches, and he shows he cares for former players, he brings back former players, and he communicates constantly with people associated with ISU Football. In closing, you can't say enough about a man who is loyal as a father, coach, husband, and boss.