What’s really on your mind, coach?

Jeremy Gustafson

You’ve heard it all before. You know how it goes. After a big loss, and yes, Iowa State’s 42-3 lambasting by Kansas State qualifies as a big loss, coaches and players try to tell you they played well, but the other team was better.

Just once wouldn’t you like them to tell you what was really on their mind? Just once wouldn’t you like the players to say, “Man, what a horrible call. Sometimes, I wonder if Coach even watches the game.”

Take it from me, they aren’t going to do that. But that is where the imagination comes in. I’ve composed a guide to help the reader. It will let you know what the players mean, even though they can’t say it.

For instance, take a classic quote from ISU head coach Dan McCarney: “Our fans deserve better than what they saw today. They’ve been great to us, and I really, really appreciate the people that came.”

Of course what he meant was: “Please come back. I know that was unbearable, I mean hell, I wanted to leave by the end of the third quarter, but it can’t be that bad every week. Really.”

Another good topic is preparation.

Ask a coach about preparation and he or she will always say they thought the team was prepared. What else can you say? It is sort of the coaches’ job to prepare the team. It’s not like McCarney is going to come out and say the team wasn’t prepared.

Instead he would say something along these lines: “We’ve had as good a week of preparation as we’ve had the whole season.”

Sounds good, but I think what he meant was: “We were prepared all right. Prepared to lose by 39 points. Come on, Mr. Reporter, did we look prepared out there?”

When a team only scores three points, offense is going to be an obvious topic of discussion. That’s when you go straight to the source – the players. Tailback Ennis Haywood said of the ISU running game, which gained a meager 23 yards, “We knew it was going to be tough running the ball today.”

No doubt, but if he could have said what was really on his mind, I think it would have sounded more like this: “We couldn’t have driven a Honda 80 yards today against Kansas State, let alone our team. But hey, at least we broke 100 yards of total offense, huh?”

Let’s not forget the defense. It gave up over 300 yards on the ground – not what you would call a solid performance. McCarney said: “They didn’t need to throw the ball, because we couldn’t stop the run.”

That’s actually not a bad quote, but I’ll bet coach Mac wishes he could have said: “How old is [Kansas State head coach] Bill Snyder? Seventy-something. Let me put it this way, he probably could have rushed for 150 yards against us; everyone else did.”

Another trying question after a humiliating defeat is what to do with the lineup.

Who played bad? Who gets benched?

McCarney said: “I’m never afraid to make any changes on depth charts. We’ll look at performance and see.”

Translation: “What are you doing next Saturday?”

Another classic quote you will often get is, “We didn’t play well as a team.”

Another way of saying that is: “Let me see, the final score was 42-3. Our defense was bad, our offense was bad, and our special teams were bad. You’ve got the roster, don’t you? I’m gonna say we played bad as a team, and you just list everyone’s name. Chances are they did something bad out there today. That’s a safe bet.”

The only real answer to any questions put in front of McCarney and his staff is a big win, which can be accomplished against No. 21 Colorado on Saturday night.

Another big loss and questions will get tougher and tougher for the team.

A win and the team will be bowl-eligible and next week’s columns will all be happy.

Of course, it isn’t fair to criticize everything that McCarney has said.

He did have some fairly solid quotes after the KSU game.

“I didn’t see much of anything today that was good,” he said, matter-of-factly.

Translation: None needed.

Jeremy Gustafson is a senior in journalism and mass communication from Ogden. He is sports editor of the Daily.