Archive for Tuesday, October 31, 2000

Baylor sees hope in ISU

Cyclones complete turnaround, eligible for bowl

October 31, 2000

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— Suffering Baylor fans can take solace in what coach Dan McCarney has accomplished at Iowa State.

That is also a reminder to be patient with second-year Bears coach Kevin Steele.

This has been a breakthrough season for Iowa State (6-2, 3-2 Big 12), which is already assured its first winning regular season since 1989 and has the six victories necessary to be bowl eligible and play a postseason game for the first time in 22 years.

It has also comes in McCarney's sixth season and after five losing seasons since taking over a team that was coming off a 0-10-1 record when he was hired in November 1994.

He was told by "98 percent of the people out there" that it was a job that couldn't be done.

"I knew it would take a lot of work. I didn't jump in blind," he said. "This job has been tough obviously, especially in the most competitive conference in college football."

The Cyclones were even 1-10 in McCarney's third season, but has made gradual improvement since. They won three games in 1998 and four last season.

"Another major hurdle and part of the legacy of the team and senior class, they've always been winners, but they are now mathematically wearing the label of winner. We will have more wins than losses," McCarney said.

Steele is hoping eventually for an Iowa State-like turnaround at Baylor.

Like McCarney, Steele took over a job that most deemed impossible. But he's only into second season, after a 1-10 debut season.

Baylor (2-6, 0-4) has lost 18 straight Big 12 games, including an October in which it was shut out three straight games. The Bears are now preparing to play a No. 1 team for the second time in three weeks.

"Not many teams play No. 1 teams twice in 15 days. It's a monstrous challenge for any program. But when you are rebuilding, it really is," Steele said.

The Bears lost 59-0 at Nebraska on Oct. 21. This week, they are at home to play Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0), the nation's new No. 1 after Saturday's 31-14 victory over the Cornhuskers.

As for Iowa State, McCarney insists the Cyclones haven't reached all of their goals and aren't going to be satisfied only with what they've accomplished so far.

"We sat down and set a lot of goals before the season started. We are on track to accomplish many of them, if not all of them," McCarney said. "We've accomplished some. Some important ones lay ahead in the next few weeks."

McCarney refused to say what those additional goals are.

"Those are confidential to our football family," he said. "We have a lot of room for improvement and are on track to have, hopefully by the end of this season, a season to remember."

Quote of the week: Colorado coach Gary Barnett on the lingering effects of a killer non-conference schedule, and a league opener against Kansas State, that resulted in an 0-4 start: "The biggest thing was confidence and not being able to win any of those tough games. That affected us. It's progression, when you go through those first four and you don't win one of those, it does all sort of things, especially to a young football team."

Extra point: Sixth-year Oklahoma State coach Bob Simmons insists he's not worried about his shaky job status. "No, no. My concern right now is this football team, and that is where my complete focus will remain." The Cowboys (2-5) have lost five straight games and are one loss away from their fifth losing season under Simmons.

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