Think Jamie Pollard’s had a difficult week? He has.
But he said Gene Chizik’s quick exit from Iowa State — and the lies and betrayals that accompanied it — was nothing compared to Nov. 2006 when Pollard ushered popular coach Dan McCarney out the door after 12 seasons.
“That was the toughest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life,” Pollard responded to a question about appreciating what McCarney accomplished in Ames. “I felt worse that week than I’ll ever feel about what just happened. Dan McCarney is a great coach and great human being.”
Could Pollard have avoided the Chizik debacle and allowed McCarney to stay?
That wasn’t an option, he said. McCarney went 4-8 his final season, better than Chizik ever did in his two years, but simply didn’t have the support of fans and financial backers at the time. They were screaming for change.
“The fact of the matter was that a majority of our fan base had given up hope and had stopped buying tickets and stopped donating,” Pollard said. “We couldn’t do what we need to do to keep Dan here. People got off that bandwagon real quick at the end and it stopped us dead in our tracks. I have all the respect in the world for him but it’s a tough business.”
As much as it hurts to admit, Pollard said Chizik’s hiring was a great thing for the athletic department.
He revitilized the fan base and donors. The money helped ISU pay for a$19 million renovation on the west side of Jack Trice Stadium and similar work that’s currently being done on the stadium’s east side.
“Two years ago we didn’t have a prayer of putting $20 million into the football stadium,” Pollard said. “We couldn’t have made that investment (without Chizik).”
Of course, McCarney’s doing pretty well for himself these days.
He’s about to coach Florida in the BCS national championship after helping elevate South Florida’s program to national prominence the year before.