Dan McCarney becomes the second former head coach from a BCS member school to join the USF coaching staff after 12 seasons as the top man at Iowa State,, where he was the longest tenured head coach in the Big 12 when he completed the 2006 season.
McCarney, who will be the assistant head coach to Jim Leavitt and work with the defensive linemen, joins former Duke head coach Carl Franks, who is the Bulls running backs coach and recruiting coordinator.
He led the Iowa State program from 1995-2006 and took the Cyclones to five Bowl games in a six-year stretch. In the 115 years of ISU football, only 16 teams have won seven games or more, and McCarney led five of those teams. He was named the Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2004 when the Cyclones were the Big 12 North Co-Champions.
McCarney remains the longest-serving (141 games) and winningest Cyclone head coach (56 victories) in school history. During his 12th season as Iowa State head coach in 2006, only eight head coaches among 119 NCAA Division I-A programs had been at their current school longer than McCarney.
The list of accomplishments at Iowa State under McCarney’s watch is both long and impressive. Among those many accomplishments are the following:
Iowa State’s four-game Big 12 Conference win streaks in each of the 2004 and 2005 seasons had been equalled only one other time (1978) since Iowa State joined a conference for the 1907 season. In 2004, McCarney was the first ISU head football coach to earn coach of the year honors by conference writers or coaches since Earle Bruce in 1976 and 1977.
Iowa State’s 2004 five-win increase from the previous season ranked second nationally.
McCarney’s 2000 Cyclones were the first Iowa State team in 94 years to win nine games. The win over Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl was ISU’s first-ever bowl victory and the Cyclones’ first bowl appearance since 1978. It had been 11 years since Iowa State’s last winning season. Iowa State’s new national standing was affirmed by its No. 25 national ranking on the final Associated Press poll, the Cyclones’ first AP poll appearance in more than 19 years. McCarney’s team also finished 23rd on the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.
Iowa State won twice as many road games since the start of the 2000 season through 2005 (12) than ISU football won away from home during the entire decade of the 1990s (6).
Iowa State’s 36-31 win at Iowa in 2002 was the Cyclones’ fifth-straight victory against the Hawkeyes, a series first. The win marked ISU’s third-straight victory in Iowa City, matching Iowa State series wins at Iowa in 1894-95-97. The Cyclones’ 27-9 win at Iowa in 1998 snapped a 31-game winless streak on the road and was Iowa State’s first win over its instate rival in 15 years.
In 2002, Iowa State defeated three bowl teams in one season for the first time in school history (Iowa, Nebraska, Texas Tech).
Iowa State basked in the limelight in 2002, with two Fox Sports Net national telecasts, three appearances on ABC, national ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts and a pair of TBS national telecasts. In 2004, seven Iowa State games were televised. The 2004 regular-season finale vs. Missouri was seen by much of the country on ABC, and the Cyclones’ Independence Bowl win over Miami University was nationally broadcast. ABC did three Iowa State games in 2005 and the Cyclones played on national television on at Army (espn2), against Colorado (Fox Sports Net) and at Kansas (Fox Sports Net). The ISU Houston Bowl game vs. TCU was shown nationally on espn2.
The 2000 Cyclone offense ranked among the nation’s best and ranked third in school history, averaging nearly 425 yards per game. Under McCarney, Iowa State has had a balanced offensive attack. ISU produced a 1,000-yard rusher in McCarney’s first seven seasons in Ames. Troy Davis rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 1995 and 1996 and was a Heisman Trophy finalist both seasons. Tailback Ennis Haywood rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2000 and 2001. Quarterback Sage Rosenfels produced the third-best passing season in school history in 2000 en route to a job with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The Iowan now plays for the Houston Texans. Quarterback Seneca Wallace, who plays for NFC champion Seattle in the NFL, was the Big 12 Conference’s Offensive Newcomer of the Year in 2001 and finished his Iowa State career as the Cyclones’ all-time total offense leader. Lineman Oliver Ross (Arizona) rounds out the former offensive Cyclones in the NFL.
McCarney was responsible for the rebirth of Iowa State’s defense, as the Cyclones made dramatic progress stopping opponents. Stats tell the story. Iowa State ranked among the Big 12 Conference’s first division in total defense in 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005. ISU’s final 2004 total defense mark of 329.4 yards allowed per game was the school’s best effort since 1986. The Cyclone defense scored six touchdowns in 2004, ranking behind only the University of Miami.
The defense improved dramatically under McCarney. Iowa State allowed 44.8 points per game in 1997. That figure dipped to 18.5 points in 2005, ranking second in the Big 12.
Iowa State’s aggressive schemes ranked the Cyclones first in the Big 12 and 11th nationally in turnover margin in 2001. ISU was second in the league and 12th nationally in 2004 and first in the conference and seventh in NCAA Division I-A in 2005. The Cyclones’ 18 interceptions in 2001 were the most by an ISU defense since 1976. ISU’s 17 interceptions in 2004 ranked second the Big 12 and its 22 interceptions led the league last year. The 35 take-a-ways recorded by Iowa State in 2005 led the Big 12. In 2003, true freshman Jason Berryman was named the Big 12 Conference Defensive Newcomer of the Year. In 2004, linebacker Tim Dobbins was the league’s defensive newcomer of the year. Former Cyclone defenders in the NFL include Reggie Hayward (Jacksonville), Ellis Hobbs (New England), Jordan Carstens (Carolina), James Reed (New York Jets) and Tim Dobbins (San Diego Chargers).
From McCarney’s arrival at Iowa State, the Cyclones moved into their new home, the Richard O. Jacobson Athletic Building, adjacent to Jack Trice Stadium. The $9.3 million award-winning Steve and Debbie Bergstrom Indoor Training Facility opened for spring football in March of 2004. A new video scoreboard and permanent Jack Trice Stadium lights made their debut in 2002. An all-natural grass field was laid in 1996. Jack Trice Stadium’s press box and individual sky suites opened in 1997, underscoring the Iowa State administration’s commitment to McCarney’s vision for making the ISU program a success. The Johnny Majors Practice Fields were dedicated in 1999.
The program’s academic performance was strong under McCarney as well. Only one Big 12 school placed more than the eight student-athletes representing Iowa State on the 2005 academic all-Big 12 first team. Defensive end Shawn Moorehead was a Verizon academic all-district VII selection last fall. ISU football student-athletes earned first-team all-Big 12 academic honors 67 times in an eight-year stretch under McCarney’s watch. Also under McCarney, Iowa State has boasted a pair of National Football Foundation post-graduate scholars (Todd Bandhauer and Dave Brcka).
Anyone who watched McCarney’s rise in the coaching ranks would not be surprised by his many successes at every stop, well before he became head coach at Iowa State. A native of Iowa City, Iowa, McCarney was instrumental in rebuilding efforts that produced Big Ten titles and Rose Bowl berths at both Iowa and Wisconsin, two schools that regularly finished near the bottom of the league before his arrival.
McCarney, 53, coached at Iowa for 13 seasons (1977-89), including 11 years under Hayden Fry, before becoming the defensive coordinator at Wisconsin under Barry Alvarez in 1990. It was at Iowa where McCarney first met USF head coach Jim Leavitt, while Leavitt was a graduate assistant with the Hawkeyes.
McCarney’s defense was the foundation of the Wisconsin rebuilding effort. In the four seasons prior to his arrival in Wisconsin, the Badgers had a 9-36 record and attendance was at its lowest mark since World War II.
In 1993, Wisconsin went 10-1-1, claimed its first Big Ten title in 31 years and scored a 21-16 win over UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Attendance at Wisconsin’s Camp Randall Stadium climbed more than 30,000 a game, and sellouts of more than 77,000 were the norm.
During Wisconsin’s Rose Bowl season, the Badgers ranked 19th nationally against the rush, allowing just 130.3 yards per game, the sixth best mark in school history. The team allowed an average of 16.3 points per game, its best effort in 30 years. The Badger defense also intercepted an NCAA-best 23 passes and created 34 turnovers, including six against UCLA in the Rose Bowl.
A 1975 graduate of Iowa, McCarney coached the Hawkeyes in eight consecutive bowl games, including the 1982 and 1986 Rose Bowls. The three-year letterman on the offensive line for Iowa (1972-74) was captain of the 1974 Hawkeye squad. A member of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) for nearly 30, McCarney is a former member of the AFCA Board of Trustees. He has also been a member of the AFCA’s rules committee and the Division I-A All-America team selection committee. McCarney serverd 12 seasons as a voting member of the USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll.