Dan McCarney

Update: McCarney confirms stroke, leaning on vodka elixer


UPDATED 2/14/2012 @ 3:27 p.m. ET: North Texas head coach Dan McCarney confirmed to the Des Moines Register that he had indeed suffered a stroke over the weekend.  McCarney told the paper that, after his daily workout Sunday morning, he “was just sitting down to eat a sandwich when my left side went numb.”

He remains hospitalized, but doctors told him he’s fine and that “[t]hey’re expecting a full recovery – no permanent damage.”  The health issue should not prevent McCarney from coaching his team in spring practice.

As for the steps he will take to get beyond the medical setback and ensure his presence at the sessions?

“Nothing wrong with me that a little Grey Goose won’t cure,” the 58-year-old coach said, quickly becoming the leader in the clubhouse for inspirational quote of the year in college football.

In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, UNT confirmed that McCarney has been moved out of ICU and will continue to undergo medical treatment.  A statement from McCarney was also included in the release:

First, thanks to all the wonderful people who sent well-wishes during my time of illness.  I am reminded of how truly blessed I am by the number of family, friends and colleagues that have reached out to show support to Margy and myself with words of support and encouragement. 

After suffering numbness on the left side of my body Sunday, we called 911 and were subsequently rushed to the hospital.  I have been told by the doctors that the early recognition of the symptoms and the quick response of the paramedics indeed helped minimize the impact of the stroke.  Thanks to the care of the wonderful medical staff that I have been under, I am confident that there will be no long-lasting effects and I will be able to return my normal routine in time.

While I have a great passion for coaching and approach my job with a tireless effort, I’m sure that my doctors will ask that I come back at a slower pace.  I fully intend on leading the North Texas football program through spring drills and can’t wait to be back around my staff and players. 

If there is any lesson to be learned in all of this it is to make yourself aware of the signs of a stroke and act immediately when those signs become present.  I’m not sure if our quick reaction saved my life, but it definitely save the quality of my life. 

Thanks again for all the thoughts, prayers and signs of support.


There’s some potentially unfortunate news coming out of Denton, Texas, today involving North Texas head coach Dan McCarney. 

According to the Twitter account of Iowa State women’s basketball coach Bill Fennelly, McCarney suffered a stroke. A spokesperson close to McCarney confirmed to CFT that the coach was admitted to a hospital yesterday and underwent “a battery of tests”, but could not provide any more details.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal offered the following statement:

“Yesterday afternoon after returning from Miami I spoke with Margy McCarney who said that her husband, Dan, had experienced some medical difficulties significant enough that he was taken to the hospital.  The details that we know at this time are that he was admitted and is currently undergoing a battery of tests and will continue to be under observation.

“The exact cause and nature of the symptoms of his illness are not immediately known by us at this time.  The family has asked until a complete diagnosis and a course of treatment is established that their privacy be respected.  We can’t comment any further at this time and will release information as it becomes available and approved by the family.”

McCarney led North Texas to a 5-7 season in his first year with the Mean Green after spending three years as the defensive line coach at Florida. McCarney also spent 12 years as the head coach at Iowa State.

Obviously, our thoughts are with McCarney and his family, and hopefully, we’ll be able to update this story with some more positive news soon.

Not everybody seems happy about USC’s hiring of Clay Helton

Clay Helton

If there is one thing that can be said about USC hiring Clay Helton as head coach on a permanent basis, it is that it provides stability for the program moving forward. Current players have responded well to Helton. Future Trojans players are responding well to Helton on the recruiting trail. Former USC players? Well, that’s a different situation.

We saw some of this at Miami in recent years with former Hurricanes ripping now former head coach Al Golden. That was a bit of a different situation with Golden being a coach that went against the grain of all that was perceived to be representative of The U. Helton is different because he has been loyal to the program as an assistant coach during a turbulent time. He at least deserves respect of those following and those who have played for USC for that alone. The problem is Helton lacks the kind of appeal most wearing USC lenses expect from their coaching hire and it seems more likely to believe athletics director Pat Haden settled for Helton instead of being able to expand the coaching search and bring in a high-quality coach for the job.

There is one way to swing the emotions the other way for those unhappy with the decision. If USC beats Stanford to win the Pac-12 championship this week, that would be one step in the right direction for the Helton haters and the Haden skeptics (myself included). The pressure will be on more next season regardless of what happens this week in the Pac-12 championship game and whatever bowl game USC ends up playing. USC will be loaded with talent and will be a trendy pick to make a run in the Pac-12 and, perhaps, even the College Football Playoff.

USC names Clay Helton permanent head coach

Clay Helton

The top coaching vacancy in college football has been filled. USC has announced it will remove the interim tag from Clay Helton and make him the permanent head coach moving forward.

Helton has gone 5-2 since taking over the program following the dismissal of Steve Sarkisian as head coach. The most recent win this weekend against UCLA both snapped a three-game losing streak to the crosstown rival Bruins and clinched USC’s first trip to the Pac-12 championship game as Pac-12 South Division champions. Helton has been with the USC program since 2010 under various assistant roles. He was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2013 and named interim head coach that season following the firing of Lane Kiffin. He stayed on the staff following the hiring of Sarkisian from Washington.

Helton had become a clear player favorite in the program, as Helton calmed a troublesome environment of uncertainty in the middle fo the season and delivered a division championship. The only losses under Helton came on the road against Notre Dame in Helton’s first game as interim head coach and more recently at Oregon, a program that revived itself as well. If nothing else, Helton’s being named the head coach provides for some stability for the program, although there should be some questions moving forward whether it will be the right move or not in the long term. The USC job was thought to be the top job on the market and worthy of some high-caliber candidates. There had been rumblings USC reached out to Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly, a former Oregon coach of course, but the odds Kelly was going to leave the Eagles on his own a year after getting general manager power were always low.

USC will continue to bring plenty of pressure to win, and win big. Helton will continue to guide a roster packed with talent and getting back to full strength after a stretch of sanctioned seasons. If Helton does not win, he will quickly enter the hot seat conversation.

USC plays Stanford for the Pac-12 championship this week.

Will Mark Richt coach again? “Oh yeah, no doubt”

Mark Richt

On Sunday the end of the line for Mark Richt at Georgia was finally reached. The Bulldogs and the head coach will go separate ways after a 15-season run in Athens, but this will not be the final stop for Richt as a head coach. On Monday, during a press conference with the media to address the coaching change, Richt was asked whether he will coach again.

“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Richt said in his response. “I’m going to listen to anybody that’s interested in talking to me,” Richt said when again asked about what’s next for the now former head coach of Georgia.

The press conference with Richt was a bit unusual for these types of settings. First, Richt continued to show his Georgia pride by wearing a black coat and red tie and had a Georgia pin on his coat. Second, he sat right next to Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity, who offered no insight whatsoever on what’s next for Georgia. When asked about the coaching search or the status for assistants, McGarity continued to shift the focus on Richt.

Richt expressed his enthusiasm for getting to coach one final game for Georgia. He will coach Georgia’s bowl game, wherever that may be, giving him one last chance to end a season with a bowl victory, which he has done nine times previously.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.