An Open Farewell Letter to Dan McCarney

For those who know him or have spent any time with him, Dan McCarney is a figure larger than life. He's enthusiastic, honorable, and a leader of men. And it's those attributes, things that are far more significant in the grand scheme of things than winning football games, that our founder says thank you to Coach Mac for as his tenure at ISU comes to a close.

Dear Dan,

Although in my head I analytically believe it's time for Iowa State football to move on and that your trailblazing tenure here has run its course, my heart tells me something different.

My heart tells me that we are going to miss you greatly. My heart tells me that although I'm not in sports radio anymore, that I'm going to miss you greatly. My heart tells me that you're going to miss us (okay, most of us) greatly, too.

To be perfectly blunt, being away from sports radio on a daily basis moved me further away than I could have imagined from the intimacy I had enjoyed around your program the past several years. And it took watching my wife getting emotional as we watched you announce your resignation on Wednesday to remind me of just how much of a class act you and your program have been over the years. Being away on WHO now I think I had forgotten that and was just looking at the numbers. I was also reminded that sometimes numbers don't tell the whole story. That sometimes you need to follow your heart, not just think with your head.

After the emotion of the moment wears off, I know that I'll again understand that this is the right thing to do. I'll again understand that you had probably taken Iowa State football as far as you could, and that the unmet expectations of last season and the free fall of this one were going to make it very problematic for Jamie Pollard's ambitious and exciting new vision to proceed. Jamie needed hope to sell for next year, and there hasn't been much hope the last few weeks on the field. And I know you're loyal to your coaches, and how hesitant you are to make changes on your coaching staff, which was probably the only thing you could've done to save your job.

But cold, hard analysis can wait for at least 24 hours. This is a time to say goodbye and thank you because I have a lot of fond memories of the times I've been around you and your program.

There's the fact that since I brought my oldest daughter with me to your house after she was born and with all the other times she's met you she now feels like she knows you, and can identify you by name. Because of that she doesn't know squat about the Wolverines despite her daddy's best efforts. Her favorite team is the Cyclones.

There's the fact that I've witnessed first-hand you are the real deal in coaching. Someone that is the same behind closed doors when the microphone isn't on as you are in the public when it is. For a public figure that is an all too rare specimen nowadays.

There's the fact that every single time I contacted you over the years with a personal favor for a friend or a listener who had a sick child or family member that needed words of encouragement, you honored that request. Even if they were Hawkeye fans!

There's the fact that you allowed me to have access to a big-time college football program, the chance to go to bowl games, be on the field for rivalry games, and see what it takes to build a winner. The access to your program didn't make me another hardened media cynic, it actually only furthered my love and passion for the greatest sport on the planet.

There's the fact that I've seen with my own eyes how much of a positive impact you have as a leader and molder of young men. And as someone who grew up with a fractured relationship with his own father that is something I've always admired about you.

There's the fact that you always went out of your way to shield your players and assistant coaches from criticism whenever possible.

There's lots more I can say but I won't. I don't want to violate any confidences or reveal off-the-record moments. There's just one more anecdote I'd like to pass along, though, that I think best describes what you're all about.

In the summer of 2005 we had just concluded our "Reporter" contest on KXNO, an effort to find a new content team for Cyclone Nation while at the same shamelessly using my old radio program to promote it. Yeah, it was shameless, but at least I admit it!

After our team was hired, I brought them up to your office one summer afternoon to meet you. Several of these Cyclone fans had never met their football coach in person before, and they were stoked. You were cordial and courteous with them, even though you were getting ready for the players to report for fall camp and had a billion other things to do. At that time you had just decided to put Jason Berryman back on the team, a decision that I disagreed with vocally on my radio program at the time.

As we ended the meet-and-greet that day, you brought Berryman up yourself, and told our staff, "I know Steve doesn't agree with or appreciate what I'm trying to do with Berryman, but we don't have to agree on everything. I know Steve doesn't agree with me on this, and I don't agree with him on everything. But as long as you treat me as professionally and honestly as he has you'll never have any problems with me, whether we agree on everything or not."

Dan, that was unsolicited respect on your part and it's something I'll never forget the rest of my career. Especially now that I'm in the news-talk realm of WHO, where politicians and newsmakers cynically try to shape the discussion and the information-cycle by appealing to the egos of those of us in the media.

Respect is the greatest compliment one man can to pay to another. And, Dan, that respect is mutual.

Dan, you're not a saint, but you are a real man. For too many of our young people there's a shortage of those to look up to around here. Forget about football and won-loss records. That's what I and all of Cyclone Nation appreciate the most and will miss the most about you when you're gone.

Thank you, Dan, and may God bless you and your family.


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