Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 Sports.com. With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. He will be contributing to the Wiz this week as we prepare for Thursday's BCS title game at Dolphin Stadium.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Dan McCarney's road back to becoming a head coach goes through Gainesville, Fla. But the road also could end there.
McCarney was Iowa State's coach for 12 seasons before being dismissed after the 2006 season. He was hired this season to coach the defensive line at Florida and finds himself part of a team one victory from the national championship.
"I would love to be a head coach again," McCarney said at Monday's BCS National Championship game media day. "If it happens, great. If not, I've got the best job for an assistant coach in the country. I work for a great coach in a great program at a school with great facilities."
A year ago, Florida's defensive line had problems stopping the run and rushing the passer. McCarney, whose background as an assistant was on the defensive side, has helped the Gators' line produce 32 sacks and limit the opposition to 105.3 yards rushing per game and 3.3 yards rushing per attempt.
"Dan’s impact was instrumental," Florida coach Urban Meyer said. "All you have to do was look at the staffs and see that we went from one of the worst defenses in the country to one of the better ones."
In his time at Iowa State, McCarney directed the Cyclones to a 56-85 record. In the 12 seasons before McCarney, Iowa State won 45 games and didn't play in a bowl game. The Cyclones also played in five bowl games during his tenure. It was during his time in Ames that Meyer got to know McCarney.
"What he did at Iowa State, I think that’s similar to what Coach [Bill] Snyder did at Kansas State," Meyer said. "I think people overlook the job he did. The people in Ames, they had the right coach. Dan McCarney was the right coach at Iowa State."
Meyer was asked if McCarney should get another shot as a head coach.
"Let me have him for a little while first," he said.
Bulletin board, Day Two
Reporters who cover an event like the BCS title game love nothing more than the comments made Sunday by Oklahoma's Dominique Franks. They love it even more when they can get reaction comments and produce "Second Day Stories."
Neither Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops nor Meyer fanned the flames during Monday's media day at Dolphin Stadium. Stoops, though, blamed the media for tricking his sophomore defensive back.
"I know how you guys — just media in general — can lead guys down a path that young guys are not used to handling," Stoops said. "Dom and our whole team, we have a great respect for Tim Tebow. It comes down to an experience leading him down a path when he is not ready."
(After practice Sunday, Stoops was in damage control mode regarding Franks' comments and said,
"You guys lead young guys into a lot of questions." Actually, coach, it's the answers, not the questions.)
Franks' main comment was that Tebow was the nation's fourth-best quarterback behind Big 12 QBs Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Graham Harrell. Several Florida players said during Monday's media day that they were happy to see their quarterback handed extra motivation. "They're gonna wake up a sleeping giant," Florida playmaker Percy Harvin said.
Tebow, sitting at a podium at Dolphin Stadium, took it all in good fun but with a hint of irritation.
"It's fun. It makes it more competitive," he said. "That might have been a compliment, we'll see. I don't really need to talk about that. We'll talk about our team. ... You can say whatever you want. We still have to go play. That's what I like to do."
Before Florida played defending national champion Louisiana State this season, defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois said the Tigers wanted to knock Tebow out of the game. The Gators won, 51-21.
"You talk like that, he's gonna make you pay for it," Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes said of Tebow. "The last time a guy talked like that about him, he put 50 on 'em."
Tebow said/didn't say that he wanted to face a Big 12 defense. He did/didn't make the comments off-air while talking to announcers for ESPN/CBS.
"I didn't say it like that," Tebow said Monday in an attempt to clear the air. "I've always dreamed about playing against teams like Texas and Oklahoma. I just love college football. Not just Big 12 teams, but Penn State, USC and programs like that. When I was talking about it, I was talking about in a way like that, not like we're superior to them. That's not what I meant."
Bo knows ... both sides
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini has been a popular guy.
Pelini was quoted in the Omaha World-Herald saying that Oklahoma defensive coordinator Brent Venables visited Pelini last month to brainstorm ways to slow Florida's offense. Pelini was defensive coordinator last season at LSU; the Tigers defeated the Gators on the way to the national championship.
As he left the Dolphin Stadium field during Monday's BCS National Championship media day, Venables downplayed the meeting. Venables explained it as a visit between friends. Pelini and Venables worked together on the OU staff in 2004.
Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen also consulted with Pelini but on a different topic. Mullen, who has been named Mississippi State's coach, asked Pelini for advice on juggling two jobs. Pelini was hired by Nebraska last December but stayed on as LSU's defensive coordinator through the BCS title game.
* An announcement could come this week about Oklahoma playing Brigham Young in the 2009 season opener in the new Dallas Cowboys stadium in Arlington, Texas. The one-time game would be the first "real" game (other than NFL exhibition) played in the new facility that will also be the home of the Cotton Bowl and the Big 12 championship game (in 2009 and 2010). OU was looking for a nonconference game for next season. The deal to play BYU is being put together by the Cowboys and ESPN.
* The night before heading to South Florida, Florida defensive back Joe Haden had his Gainesville barber shave a special message into the left side of his head: "BCS 1." It looks pretty cool, but we couldn't figure out what exactly it means. "The BCS No. 1 game," said Haden, who acknowledged he had no idea what "BCS" stood for.
* Oklahoma senior defensive back Lendy Holmes was academically ineligible for last season's Fiesta Bowl. He takes some of the blame for the Sooners' 48-28 loss to West Virginia, which gained 525 total yards. "It's the hardest thing I had to face in my college career and my life," Holmes said. "I feel like I just let everybody down who supported me, who supported OU."
* All-American offensive guard Duke Robinson on the Sooners' record-setting offense: "It's crazy to me. We go down in history a couple of times for scoring 60 in five consecutive games. Our goal was never to score 60 points a game. Our goal is to beat Texas, beat Oklahoma State, go to a Big 12 championship and compete in a national championship game."