McCarney's resignation effective at season's end
AMES, Iowa -- Dan McCarney resigned Wednesday after 12 seasons as Iowa State's football coach, saying it was time to re-energize the program.
McCarney, the Big 12's longest tenured coach, will remain with the Cyclones for the final two games of the season.
"Sometimes you have to put the organization ahead of yourself. I think the best thing for this program right now is for me to step down," McCarney said.
Iowa State is 3-7 this season, 0-6 in the Big 12, and has lost its last seven games against Division I-A opponents by an average of 20 points.
According to athletic director Jamie Pollard, the Cyclones' recent tailspin left McCarney with little choice but to resign.
"It became apparent to us over the past several weeks that the momentum had been lost. And there wasn't much that he or I could do to get that momentum back," Pollard said.
McCarney's departure marks the third major coaching change since Pollard took over in September 2005. Pollard fired men's basketball coach Wayne Morgan in March after the Cyclones finished 16-14 and missed out on postseason play. Pollard promoted former Olympic gold medalist Cael Sanderson to head wrestling coach later that month.
"This one's different. This one hurts," Pollard said.
Pollard has embarked on a $135 million fundraiser to renovate antiquated Hilton Coliseum and Jack Trice Stadium. He acknowledged that the football team's recent struggles have made it tougher to raise money for that project, which was approved by the school's Board of Regents in June.
"To be able to do what we want to do, we have to be healthy in football," Pollard said.
He said accepting McCarney's resignation was the toughest decision of his career, and it showed. Pollard seemed more emotional than McCarney during Wednesday night's news conference.
"I clearly didn't get into the profession for moments like this. Nobody wanted Dan McCarney to be more successful than me," Pollard said. "If I had one wish right now, it would be that this isn't happening. But that's not an option."
McCarney is 55-84 at Iowa State, including a 26-67 mark in the Big 12, but he also guided the program through one of its most successful periods. Iowa State, which hasn't won an outright conference title since 1912, came within one win of reaching its first Big 12 title game in each of the last two seasons, only to lose the season finale.
McCarney has led the Cyclones to bowl games in five of the past seven years. Iowa State had gone 22 years without a postseason appearance.
Speculation about McCarney's future had been heating up over the past month. The Cyclones were expected to compete in the Big 12 North after returning 10 starters on offense from last year's 7-5 team, but they struggled in recent weeks.
The last two losses sealed McCarney's fate. Iowa State lost at Kansas State, 31-10, and to Kansas, 41-10, at home last week.
Pollard likened the media frenzy surrounding McCarney's job status over the last two weeks to a "circus," and McCarney said Monday it had become a huge distraction for his players.
"We've had somewhat of a divided Iowa State community, and at the bottom of that is that we've really struggled. I'm sorry for that. That's a shame," McCarney said. "I want the best for this place because I love Iowa State."
McCarney has always been popular with his players, and many current Cyclones were upset with the move.
"I know he could have turned it around if given the opportunity," junior wide receiver Todd Blythe said. "It's tough to see him go out like this because I know what kind of guy he is."
Pollard said a national search for McCarney's replacement will begin immediately. He did not set a timetable for finding a new coach.
"Iowa State's football program has to be healthy for us to have any chance to compete in the Big 12," Pollard said. "If football isn't healthy, we get stuck."
Pollard will honor McCarney's contract, which states that he will receive $225,000 a year -- the amount equal to his base salary -- until its completion on June 30, 2010.
McCarney took over at Iowa State in 1995 after five seasons as the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach under Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin. He spent the first 13 years of his coaching career as an assistant at Iowa.
McCarney will be remembered for putting Iowa State football on the map. He won six of the last nine meetings with in-state rivals Iowa and brought respect to what used to be one of the nation's worst programs in a major conference.
But this season, he failed to live up to expectations that didn't exist before his arrival.
"I've got peace with my decision. I have no regrets. It's time for me to move on," McCarney said. "It's been a hell of a ride."
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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