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Update: McCarney confirms stroke, leaning on vodka elixer

Dan McCarney AP

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.

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14 Responses to “Update: McCarney confirms stroke, leaning on vodka elixer”
  1. woebegong says: Feb 13, 2012 2:45 PM

    Get well coach, and be free of any complications that can accompany a stroke sometimes. I lost my father to one five years ago, although, since he had 7 strokes before it was diagnosed correctly, and left him the shell of the man he had been.

  2. lakesidegator says: Feb 13, 2012 7:27 PM

    Really, really sorry to read that, woebegong. Like many others, I too have seen the results of some missed/mis-diagnosis that might have saved, or at least delayed, the shell or actuality of losing the life of a loved one. God bless your father and you and yours/his.
    By the way, Dan….get well and full SOON.
    Love & hugs,
    the rest of us

  3. woebegong says: Feb 13, 2012 7:32 PM

    Thank you for the sentiments. I never knew my biological father, but as far as I was concerned, he was my father. He raised me, taught me values and am sure sacrificed a lot of his life to insure I had mine. I hated to see him go downhill so quickly, even at his age.

  4. southernpatriots says: Feb 13, 2012 8:34 PM

    Our best and prayers are with Coach Mc for a full and complete recovery. May the doctors have diagnosed and treated this quickly as the doctors did mine just a few years ago. If they catch it quickly enough, great things can be done. Our hopes are for a complete recovery and we see Coach Mc on the sidelines Sept. 1st in Deaf Valley, LSU.

    woebegong: Thanks for sharing your heart. Sometimes like this we can realize life is so much more important than this game we love. So sorry to hear about your “Dad.” I went through “mini-strokes” and 2 major strokes but thankfully to God and doctors, they got me through it all, even at my age.

  5. woebegong says: Feb 13, 2012 8:42 PM


    Glad you are doing ok, and thanks for the comments about my dad. He was suppose to be going to a great hospital in Towson Maryland, and prior to them finally figuring out what was wrong, he had fell and broken his arm one time and his shoulder the next. They finally did an MRI, and though that during one of the falls, he had some internal bleeding due to the falls. Once they did the operation to remove the blood, it was too late to do a lot for him. The damage was done, and he was never able to do again, what he loved to do so much and that was take walks. The practice of medicine I guess is at times, an educated guess, and other times it is neglect. I am not sure what it was in my fathers case, but something should have been done, before all that damage occurred.
    Oh well, enough of that. You can’t change the past; But hopefully you can learn from it.

  6. showerswithsandusky says: Feb 14, 2012 8:04 PM

    Dan McCarney > Paterno. Get well coach!

  7. bangitfootball says: Feb 15, 2012 8:33 AM

    “Nothing wrong with me that a little Grey Goose wouldnt cure”. Now thats my kind of coach!
    Get well soon.

  8. burntorangehorn says: Feb 15, 2012 11:23 AM

    So he’s going for Boris Yeltsin’s remedy, huh? Seems smart.

    Oh, except he’s drinking veblen image-conscious sissy vodka, not the real stuff.

  9. cometkazie says: Feb 15, 2012 3:15 PM

    SouPat: PMAC = Deaf Dome

    The place across the street = Death Valley

    Good to see you back!

    My dad suffered a small stroke the fall of ’59. It was the start of a gradual mental deterioration that ended up with full blown dementia. Today I’m grateful the medical profession can do so much more.


  10. southernpatriots says: Feb 15, 2012 4:31 PM

    cometkazie (Tom): I “campaigned”(along with about 100,000 others) to change the name of the LSU Assembly Center to honor Pistol Pete, especially since it was nicknamed that by staff, students, and fans “The Palace that Pete built” from the beginning. I was in it for a basketball game a few years ago and needed tissue in my ears…ha. The old nick name for the football stadium was “Deaf Valley” but some reporter misunderstood the Cajun pronunciation (ha!) so wrote “Death Valley” and that stuck with many.

    When PMAC first opened, I was in it for the Expo of World cooking which was to feature the best LA chefs but all were out of state (someone goofed on contacting them) so I was drafted since I was on staff and regularly cooked for the staff meetings, etc. It is truly a great memory, hobnobbing with Julia Child, Graham Kerr, Justin Wilson, and all the big guys and gals.

    I am heading back and forth to Central Appalachia. The children are at great risk due to the mountain top blasting resulting in lung weakness, then flu, then pneumonia, then death within a few days unless medical care is administered. We have had a Christmas outreach there for over 30 years now but this year the pneumonia situation is worst than I have seen since the pandemic of H1N1 swine flu there a few years ago. Thank God most of my trips are plane, because that is a long drive from south Louisiana.

    The mini-strokes are a sign to anyone that they need immediate medical attention. I did not recognize the signs at the time, thought it was just weariness and maybe slight sun stroke. Thank God and great doctors they saw the signs and reacted properly to diagnose and treat or I would not be here today. The same could be said for my aortic rupture, cancer (multiple times), and heart situations and other life threatening situations. Most tell me I am on “borrowed time.” I like to think of it as “redeemed time”….ha.

    My sisters (who and wife who usually post here) had to return home for the grandchildren and great grandchildren. I don’t know which ones can’t be away from which ones for long…ha.

  11. cometkazie says: Feb 15, 2012 7:08 PM

    I attended my first game across the street in 1958 and have known it as Death Valley. Funny how those stories go. Don’t they call PMAC the Deaf Dome? I’ve been to exactly one LSU basketball game, 30y ago.

    It was also used as a triage point post-Katrina. There is a story of a freshman track athlete fresh from the Caribbean, first time in the U.S., pushing gurneys from the med-evac choppers landing at Bernie Moore to PMAC. Locals went home to help with the recovery. Out of staters pitched in.

    We are in the foothills of the Appalachians here in Central Kentucky. Thanks for all your work!

    “Redeemed Time” indeed!

  12. southernpatriots says: Feb 16, 2012 9:20 AM


    Being that our family members, close and extended (about 120) live near New Orleans and in south Louisiana, we were intimately involved in the rescue and relief in New Orleans and surrounding areas from the beginning.

    My brother-in-law and I went to New Orleans to find and extricate our uncle who called us and said waters were rising outside his house and were so high that his car was flooded. His house was about 4 feet off the ground but water was coming near the level of the front porch. We left immediately and upon rescuing him, he told us of others he knew who needed rescuing from the rising waters, so this began what turned out for us to be over 6 months of rescue and relief, 9th Ward and all around NO, Jefferson Parish, St. Bernard, Plaquemines Parish, Abbeville, etc.

    For awhile it seemed to be a never ending relief. We though we sort of hand it in hand, and then Rita showed up! A mess became a bigger mess. We rented buses from MS after Mayor Nagin had all the buses flooded in NO and later abdicated his responsibility by going to Dallas to be on the Oprah show during the crisis, our ertwhile Gov. keeping her National Guard troops away from the city when we needed them in the city and then preventing fishermen who were telephoned by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Board to come to help evacuate people from coming to help us.

    Because we were inside the restricted area, we had access back and forth and all the guards, FEMA, and later Coast Guard all knew us well by sight. When the Red Cross showed up with arm bands, and we took a large box of them (a gross?ha.) to hand out to all the volunteer workers to get them through the restrictions. Without the volunteers, as you mentioned in Baton Rouge, even non-Americans, and in Houston, San Antonio, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, etc. it would have been impossible.

    Then the horror of horrors after we began finding so many precious people who died trying to escape through their roofs, over 1000 children that were unaccounted for because they were split away from their parents, not by the rescuers, but by the government folks who were transporting them to relief centers in BR, etc. Our wives and sisters were taking lists and photos around to all the relief centers trying to reunite families. It tooks months for the Center for Missing…Children to confirm all had been reunited with their families.

    I am packing and begging and “borrowing” medicines from local hospitals today to bring back with me to Appalachia. Our team will be departing on Saturday, we hope.

  13. woebegong says: Feb 16, 2012 9:26 AM

    Good luck on your mission and God’s speed. For some folks, the devastation will never be forgotten and the wounds healed.

  14. southernpatriots says: Feb 16, 2012 1:10 PM

    Thank you…we all appreciate it. Some of the medicines being donated are very expensive but due to the generosity of the hospitals and medical profession once again we are able to help those in need. It makes me proud to know those guys (and gals).

    Our group during Katrina and Rita rescue and relief snapped well over a thousand photos, some of which were used by reporters around the world. We had the photos developed but could not look at them. We thought on the 1st anniversary of the calamity that we would, but no one in our family could. We kept trying for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th anniversary and still could not. Not only do those who were living in the devastation zones affected and continue to have recurring nightmares about the events, but so do the relief workers and volunteers. Several firemen from out of state who came to work on emergency relief took early retirement, due to the trauma of it all.

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