By Craig Fields
Starting off 9-15 over his first two years can not be what Coach McCarney and the Mean Green Athletic Department had in mind for this new chapter in the school’s football program. However, this season may be different than the previous two.
According to the Associated Press, Coach McCarney finally has 85 scholarship players for the first time in three seasons. “More guys look like Division I football players,” McCarney said. “Its taken quite some time to replenish this roster to get it where we can be competitive.”
When a player on your team can not get comfortable, that is when you as a coach can push and push and push to get the best results out of your guys. Each guy has to work harder to earn and keep their starting roles. According to Coach McCarney, “There’s been no competition going on in many positions the first two years that I’ve been here. There were bodies there, but I’m talking about real competition, Division I competition, guys that have a chance to play winning football at this level.”
Finally having a roster of 85 scholarship players could not have come at a better time. With the move from the Sun Belt Conference to Conference USA, the Mean Green should expect highly competitive play and will need all the talent they can muster in order to keep up with the conference.
Coach McCarney knows a little something about turning around hurting programs. Ok, make that a lot of something. Back when he was the Head Coach of the Iowa State Cyclones from 1995-2006, the start was nothing to write home about. But during a stretch of six years from 2000-2005 he had the Cyclones in five bowl games, winning two.
He is the winningest coach of that organization (56-85) and has shown that given time and patience he can completely turn around a struggling program. In regards to the expectations of the Mean Green football team McCarney had this to say, “You just want tangible evidence of what we’re doing year-round with this program, what we’re doing to change the culture of the program, change expectations. The reality was this program was in bad shape when we got here. The perception was even worse, and I’ve dealt with that for two years. … How do you change perception? You make sure the reality of your program gets better.”