On Campus: McCarney Swinging till the End

Is it really going to end this way? It is obvious that a coaching change is inevitable. The controversial cloud around the Jacobson building is growing in volume. It is on the brink of explosion. Uneasiness rules the day. No smiles are to be found.

Is it really going to end this way? It is obvious that a coaching change is inevitable. The controversial cloud around the Jacobson building is growing in volume. It is on the brink of explosion. Uneasiness rules the day. No smiles are to be found.

 

And truth-be-told nobody should be smiling. Dan McCarney has been the face of Iowa State athletics for 12 years. He has been the one indestructible fortress when the walls were crumbling around him. He has fought through everything imaginable and remained standing strong after all was said and done. And now he appears to be on his last leg and even that is starting to give way.

 

It is truly a sad way for a great era of Cyclone football to end.

 

The last couple weeks for the players, coaches, and everyone else associated with Cyclone football have been complete misery.

 

Faces are long. Feelings are frayed. Frustration turned to desperation which turned to failure.

 

The players understood what was at stake in their last several games. They read the paper, they watch T.V, they listen to the radio and they even read message boards. Since the fourth game of the year, the questions surrounding Mac's future have been a constant presence. The murky future has always been there nipping at their heels. They knew their performance on the field would be the ultimate factor in deciding their coach's fate.

 

After losses to Iowa and Texas, the team's morale and spirit was still feisty. The guys were healthy, they just needed to start making some plays. The offense simply needed to find its mojo.

 

The plays never came and the injury bug bit like a rottweiler with Mark Mangino's appetite. Things started to unravel. And then the spiral culminated with Saturday's completely demoralizing 41-10 loss to a one-conference-win Kansas team, which had rotating freshman quarterbacks and the league's worst defense. It stands as the most one-sided home loss to KU since 1964. 

 

That is a tough task to recover from. The tank was leaking from all directions and McCarney could do nothing to stop it.

 

Mac has always let his players come before him and for that fact nobody will take this news harder than the multitude of seniors on this ball club. This is it for McCarney. This is it for them. Their great years of success together unfortunately sullied by unmet expectations.

 

After the Saturday loss Ryan Kock reportedly sat at his locker for several minutes after nearly everybody else had left the room. He crouched in his stall face down, completely drained of any remaining emotion. His blood and sweat soaked uniform still clinging to his body. He couldn't muster the energy to even remove his battered pads. This wasn't the way his career was supposed to wind down. He has worked too hard for this.

 

And sadly, he wasn't the only one. It was no longer frustration. Frustration can be corrected. This feeling had finality to it. It was more or less an ending. And a sad one at that. 

 

Despite this empty feeling, the guys have to continue to fight through the final two games. Battle for pride. Battle for each other. Battle for the coaching staff. Battle for Coach Mac. Battle for the Cyclone football family.

 

That is exactly what they will do. Go down swinging with everything you have left.

 

I was walking by the Jacobson building today when the players were entering the practice field. One-by-one they passed by just like they did back in August. Helmets strapped on, ankles taped, and eyes focused. You would have never known any controversy surrounded the program.

 

And leading the pack with his bellowing voice and high-pitched whistle was Dan McCarney; shouting words of encouragement just like it was 1995 all over again. Even in the midst of the chaos of the impending changes, it was just another practice. Another day to impact a young man. Another chance to improve.

 

Some things never change no matter the ending.

 

No doubt about it.   

 

 

 


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