A Tribute to Mac: Former Player Letters

Dan McCarney isn't only a football coach to his former players. He's more like a father figure. CN compiled around 20 letters from former Mac players, that they wrote to their former coach. Read them here in this tribute to Dan McCarney before he coaches his last game as a Cyclone on Saturday.

Thanks Coach Mac,

Dan Mcarney's contributions to Iowa State University have been amazing based around what he has done for the credibility of the program and his contributions to developing great football players at Iowa State.  He has excelled in graduation rates, winning percentage, bowl victories, preparing players for the NFL and fostering a real Iowa State football family.  He will be missed dearly and will be successful in whatever his next venture happens to be.

        Surprisingly enough, the most meaningful personal memory I have of Coach Mac is not the discipline and accountability that he demanded from me as a player, which has ultimately shaped me into the man that I am today.  Rather, Coach Mac was able to connect with me on a personal level after my ISU football career.  As a 1997 graduate of ISU and 5 years removed from the program, I was unfortunately diagnosed with Cancer in 2001.  In a genuine show of concern and support, Coach Mac took the time to track down my cell phone number and gave me a call when maybe a card would have been sufficient.  He found my number and while I was in the hospital and called with encouragement and support.  We kept in contact and when I finished chemotherapy and he opened his own office for me to come and watch a game.  This meant to me that I was more than just a four year player, but that I was part of the cyclone family.  It meant a lot to hear his voice on the other end of the line.  Coach Mac is a role model for doing things the right way and putting his heart and soul into whatever it is that he does.  The Cyclone Football family will miss him dearly in so many ways… not only as a coach but as a role model as well.


Doug Easley
Class of 97



Over six years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a football camp in Ames, IA.  I attended this camp not knowing much about Iowa State University or Iowa State Football.  Then I arrived and got my first chance to meet Coach Mac.  During the camp he was everywhere, coaching the athletes as if they were his own football team, watching players do drills, and encouraging players to give it their all.  After seeing his passion for the game of football, and the passion that he had for ISU, I knew I wanted to be a Cyclone. 

I got to spend five great years in Ames, going to school and playing football, and I owe Coach Mac for that opportunity.  The knowledge I have received from Coach Mac goes way beyond the football field.  I have learned from watching Coach Mac, his ability to motivate, coach, and believe in his players.  He demonstrates class and conducts himself as a professional at all times.


He shows he cared by inviting former players back to Ames to help coach the new wave of future Cyclones during his summer camps. Even after my playing career end in 2004, Coach Mac was willing to write a letter of recommendation for me, which helped me get to where I am at today.  He is truly a person of Character, Integrity, Class, Compassion, and the list can on and on.  Like so many other people, I respect and owe Coach Mac so much, I really don't know where to start or finish.  He is a great coach, teacher, leader, speaker, and motivator.  Thank you, Coach Mac for your time and commitment to Iowa State Football.

Tim TeBrink ‘04




Coach McCarney knows what he means to all of us, so for those people out there that aren't involved on a daily basis with the program, here is what he means to me:


Mac took a chance on me and brought me into the program. I was pretty wet behind the ears when I got to ISU and had a lot to learn about a lot of things. Mac and his coaches (particularly Matt McGettigan, Steve

Loney and Pete Hoener) pushed me to grow up, to be accountable, to learn the difference between pain and injury, to handle pressure. It wasn't always fun..in fact, a lot of the time it pretty much sucked. We didn't have much success on the field in those early years, and we had to continue to work without seeing any rewards. Guys that I looked up to and respected graduated and moved on without experiencing the success they had worked so hard for. Coach was a constant example that we could hold our heads up and be proud even if the wins didn't outnumber the losses because we were doing things the right way. When we finally got that first win over Iowa, that first Big XII road win, that first winning season in 11 years and that first bowl championship in school history they were tremendous accomplishments; but the bigger accomplishment was never losing hope, never giving in and always working like champions.


I'm convinced that the people that played football for Coach McCarney are going to be successful in life. There are a lot of different guys, with a lot of different stories, but the constant is ISU football under Dan McCarney. We built something great...not just on the scoreboard or at the end of the year, but with each other. I'm proud to be a Cyclone and I'm even more proud to have Mac's respect - it means more than most people could ever imagine to a small town kid from Denver, Iowa.


Ben Bruns '00


In the summer of 1995 when I stepped onto the ISU campus I was given the gift of a second family.  A brother to fight with in practice and fight along side with in games, a terrific education, and memories that will last a lifetime. But the greatest thing that I received at ISU was the opportunity to play for Dan  McCarney. Coach Mac's teachings have helped shape me into the man that I have become today. He taught me to fight through adversity, never quit, to work hard and great things will happen.

          I had the pleasure of being part of Coach Mac's first recruiting class in 1995 and being part his first game against Ohio U.  I will be there to as he steps on the field for the last time, to tell him thank you for always believing, and instilling in all your players hearts that no matter what, we can always find a way to win!


Thank You Coach Mac,



Coach Mac has more energy and passion than anyone I know. That is why I went to Iowa State. I decided to go to Iowa State based on Coach Mac and his staff. Coach Mac has always surrounded himself with a great staff. Some of the closest people in my life have come from his staff.

November 8th was a hard thing to swallow for me. I didn't agree with what happened, but it reminded me of memories that I had of Mac. I remember showing up to his 1st football camp when I was in 8th grade. I walked in wearing my Iowa Hawkeye shirt proudly. It didn't take long before I spent all of my money buying Iowa State shorts and shirts. I was no longer a Hawkeye after that camp, I became a proud Cyclone and that was because of the energy that Mac had. I remember the wins against Iowa, Nebraska, Texas ANM, and a bowl victory in Shreveport. Things that haven't happened at Iowa State, EVER. I am proud that I had the opportunity to experience it all. The Good and the Bad.

The Cyclones will never be the same without Dan McCarney and his coaching staff.


Mac I want to thank you for the 12 great years that you gave to Iowa State and the five years you gave me. You are Iowa State!


Nik Moser

ISU Safety 2001-05




It is tough for guys that played for Mac to simply put in words what he means to them.  The public sees a guy with nothing but class, character, integrity, loyalty, and passion.  We see and experience all of these traits and more.  What a lot of people don't understand is what an ass kicker Coach Mac truly is.  People often use the term "dark alley"…well Mac is a guy I know any of us would want in that dark alley with them.  Because of the fact that he always is so disciplined in staying politically correct with the media, not a lot of people have witnessed this side of him.  Mac also personifies "Cyclone Family" and has a great wife in Margy.  A few months ago, my wife and I had our first child, Erik Jr.  Despite the rigors of the season and countless people he deals with on a daily basis, I still get e-mails regularly from Coach Mac asking how my little boy is.  We also received an infant Cyclone Jersey care package in the mail a few weeks ago from Mac and Margy.  How many head coaches in America keep in touch with former players to that extent?  Wherever Mac lands his next head coaching job, this will instantly become my new favorite team.  I think I could summarize my love and respect for Coach Mac in one simple sentence:   If my son is blessed with any opportunity and desire to play football beyond High School, I want him to play for Dan McCarney.


Erik Anderson, Linebacker, Starter, 4 year letter winner, Sr. Captain




Coach Mac-

Where do I start…First off I have to thank you for all that you have done for me as a player and a person.  You were there for me through all my battles with injuries.  You encouraged me to keep fighting off the adversity.  You were the rock and foundation of my life for my five years at ISU, and you will always be in my path in life.  You demonstrated so many qualities that people dream of, and I can say that I am a better man because of that.  You instilled character, enthusiasm, discipline, hard work, resilience, the power of attitude, how to deal with adversity, teamwork, and the will to win in me…And these attributes I carry with me in my game of life.  You are a man of integrity, fight, enthusiasm, and a proven winner.  He has instilled what family means outside of your own personal family.  I will follow you wherever your next stop in coaching is, and I will label it as my new favorite team.  You have taken a salvage yard in Iowa State and turned it to a gold mine.  A gold mine of respectability, a place with a tremendously strong foundation built on blood, sweat, and tears, and a gold mine of bowl championships, a share of the north conference championship.  You will always be the face of not just Iowa State Football, rather Iowa State University.  I support you, I honor you, and I love you.  You are the pulse of Iowa State Athletics.

Luke Vander Sanden, Offensive Lineman and Team Captain 2004

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