The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Familiar foe back in Kinnick


Both Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and North Texas head coach Dan McCarney once coached under Hayden Fry’s direction.

By Jordan Hansen
[email protected]

Ask Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz his first memory of North Texas head coach Dan McCarney, and he’ll tell a story that involves legendary Hawkeye coach Hayden Fry.

Ferentz said on Tuesday the pair got “ripped” by Fry shortly after Ferentz came to Iowa as the offensive-line coach in 1981. McCarney, who was the defensive-line coach at the time, was born in Iowa City and played for the Hawkeyes from 1972-74 as an offensive lineman.

Ferentz said he and McCarney let their No. 1 units to go against each other in practice — the “iron sharpens iron” mantra — but that was not Fry’s philosophy, and as you may imagine, he did not agree.

That was early in McCarney’s and Ferentz’s career and was just one instance in their relationship.

“Typically with line coaches on any staff, they work hand in hand just like the coordinators communicate a lot,” Ferentz said. “So being a line coach offense, defense, there is that natural camaraderie, I guess.”

    Ferentz and McCarney coached their respective lines at Iowa until both got different jobs in 1989. McCarney went to Wisconsin as the defensive coordinator, and Ferentz took over as the head coach at Maine.

“I remember leaving Iowa and how hard that was and how emotional it was,” McCarney said this week. “My path in life has been so enriched because of the time I spent in Iowa City and at the University of Iowa.”

It wasn’t long before McCarney was back in Iowa. He took over as head coach at Iowa State in 1995, a position he held until 2006. Ferentz also came back to Iowa as the coach of the Hawkeyes. Ferentz and McCarney have faced off seven times.

McCarney won five of those games. Their relationship, while still friendly, was different during that time.

“When you compete against each other, there is a little different feel to things,” Ferentz said. “I prefer it when those guys are not working somewhere where we’re diametrically opposed to each other.”

If nothing else, the preparation for North Texas must be at least a bit familiar to Ferentz. Iowa cornerback Greg Mabin noted that North Texas likes to spread teams out, similar to what Iowa State does.

“We see a lot of similarities between their team and Iowa State,” Mabin said. “But they are a completely different team than we faced two weeks ago.”

Obviously, Iowa State’s current head coach Paul Rhoads isn’t McCarney, but the similarities in the offense are there. Rhoads didn’t seem to change much in Iowa State’s offense since his predecessor resigned, and he has had success against the Hawkeyes.

McCarney has found ways to beat Iowa, and while this year’s North Texas team is a significant underdog, it’s hard to disregard that.

After all, McCarney only played and coached for 19 years at Iowa.

“This Iowa team is very similar to a lot of [Iowa] teams that I’ve coached against,” McCarney said. “This is not anything new for me.”

Follow @JordyHansen for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.

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