Schwartz: The Fran McCaffery Interview

February 18, 2015

Written by David Schwartz

I’d love to sit down with Fran McCaffery. It’ll never happen. But it might go something like this. (With apologies to Black Heart Gold Pants for ripping off their bit) 

David Schwartz: Thanks for making time for me.

Fran McCaffery: No problem, Dave. My brother’s a sportswriter. I have great respect for the profession.

DS: Ha – I’m not a full-time sportswriter anymore. I just write a little for Hawkeye Nation. But still, I appreciate the sentiment.

FM: Sure thing.

DS: Getting to the interview, what do you take away from the last couple of games? What’s happened to your team?

FM: I don’t follow.

DS: Well, it looked like you guys had really turned a corner at Michigan and then against Maryland. It’s the best stretch any Iowa team has played probably in years. But then Minnesota – well, they were playing well at the time, I guess – but Northwestern, especially, the team really seemed to take a step backward. As the coach, what happened?

FM: What do you mean what happened? We lost!

DS: Right, I know you lost. I’m asking if you can explain the ups and downs of this team.

FM: I’M SO SICK AND TIRED OF YOU GUYS ASKING THESE STUPID QUESTIONS!!!

DS: Fran, you’re the coach being asked logical questions about your team for a fan base that’s concerned the Hawkeyes are starting to spiral like they did last season. No one’s accusing them of committing federal crimes.

FM: OH YES YOU ARE! EVERYONE IS AGAINST US! IT’S US AGAINST THE WORLD DAMNIT AND THE ONLY WAY WE’RE GOING TO GET THROUGH IT IS IF I SCREAM AND ACT LIKE A MANIAC!!!

DS: Uh, coach, Michigan State has struggled this season, too. Tom Izzo faces the same questions. He usually just explains what happened and tries to put things into perspective. Maybe …

FM: PERSPECTIVE? YOUR PERSPECTIVE IS STUPID! EVERYBODY’S PERSPECTIVE IS STUPID! I’M NOT GOING TO CHANGE WHO I AM JUST BECAUSE THE SAME THING THAT HAPPENED LAST YEAR IS HAPPENING THIS YEAR!!!

(Gary Barta walks in)

GB: Hey, Fran, it’s getting kind of loud in here. What’s the problem, big guy?

FM: IT’S THE MEDIA, BARTA! THEY KEEP ASKING STUPID QUESTIONS!!!

GB: Well, yeah, they do that from time to time, but most of ‘em are all right. What did Schwartz ask you?

FM: HE WANTS TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENED AGAINST NORTHWESTERN!!! WHAT HAPPENED? I’LL TELL YOU WHAT HAPPENED!!!!!

GB: Whoa whoa whoa, Fran. Slow down. You’ve got to give fans and media what they want.

FM: YEAH, AND WHAT’S THAT?

GB: The exceptional graduation rate of our women’s and men’s tennis teams!

(Fran stares)

(Schwartz stares)

GB: It’s a can’t-miss. No matter how bad things get, people love excellent graduation rates.

DS: Gary, I think you might be overrating …

FM: THAT’S THE STUPIDEST FU …

(Kirk Ferentz walks in)

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GB: Kirk baby, how’s my even-keeled teddy bear?

KF: Good, Gary. Hi Fran.

FM: THEY’RE OUT TO GET US ALL, KIRK. THEY’RE OUT TO GET US ALL!!!

KF: Uh, yeah. Hey Gary, can I talk to you about something?

GB: Sure, Kirk, anything. Anything! You need a contract extension?

KF: No that’s OK. Well, look, I don’t know how to say this. I don’t want to make a stink, but there’s something that’s been bugging me for a while now.

GB: What is it, Kirk? Is the Hawkeye Cruise stopping at the wrong islands? Whatever it is Kirk, I’ll make up for it, I swear!

KF: No, it’s not the cruise. That’s fine. It’s, well … it’s the pencils in the supply cabinet. When I started in 1999 we had yellow #2 pencils, and I just noticed that we switched to black #2 pencils.

GB: And …

KF: That’s a change, Gary. I don’t like change. Why wasn’t I notified? We went undefeated in the Big Ten in 2002 with those pencils.

FM: THIS IS HOW IT STARTS, KIRK! FIRST IT’S THE PENCILS, THEN THEY WANT TO KNOW WHY YOUR CENTER KEEPS POKING PEOPLE IN THE EYE!!!!

GB: Oh, geez Kirk. I didn’t realize. I’m so sorry. I’ll get right on that.

(Lisa Bluder walks in)

LB: Hi, fellas! Who threw a party without inviting me?

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KF: It’s not a party, Lisa. We’re having a meeting.

LB: I know, Kirk. It was a joke. Besides, I don’t miss parties. My team hasn’t missed the Big Dance in almost a decade, right Fran?

FM: WAS IT YOU? WAS IT YOU? IT WAS YOU, WASN’T IT! YOU HACKED ZACH MCCABE’S TWITTER FEED I KNOW IT!!!

LB: No, Fran. Hey … is that David Schwartz? Don’t tell me you’re writing another story about men’s basketball when you haven’t written anything about us.

(Schwartz slinks in his chair in shame)

KF: So how was practice today, Lisa? You guys are really on a roll.

LB: Practice was great. The team all worked hard, although I had to yell at Dixon for hitting only 87 percent of her three-pointers (laughs).

GB: You yelled at a player?

LB: No, not really, Gary, I’m just kiddi…

GB: YOU’RE FIRED!!!!

LB: But …

GB: Women’s players are delicate. They can’t take criticism. Everyone knows that.

LB: What the hell kind of double standard is that? An athlete is an athlete, Barta. Or do I have to …

GB: Sorry, Bluder. Fired. Now pack up your things and get out.

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LB: But what will you tell my team? Our players?! We might be in line for a second or third seed in the Big Dance!

GB: Oh who cares. I’ll buy ’em all iPads.

FM: I KNEW IT! IT’S THE IPAD!! THEY’RE SPYING ON US THROUGH THE IPADS!!! EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM!!

DS: Who?

FM: THE REFS! THE MEDIA! THE STUDENT SECTION! EDWARD SNOWDEN! IT’S US AGAINST THE WORLD, I TELL YA! US AGAINST THE WORLD!!!

DS: It doesn’t have to be, you know. Sometimes you can just answer a question at face value.

FM: SAYS WHO?!

DS: Says me.

LB: You’re really firing me?

KF: Can we get back to the pencils?

GB: Oh screw your pencils, Ferentz. I’ve got bigger stuff on my plate.

KF: But we used the old pencils when Dallas Clark was here. Did you know he was a walk-on and that we developed him?

GB: Yesssssssss, Kirk. Good grief. Everyone knows that story. You tell it every day. You brought him here back when Clinton was president – get a new story already.

KF: But what could be more important than pencils?

GB: Have you seen our season-ticket prospects?

KF: No, I’ve been trying to fix the cassette player in my office since January.

GB: We may lose 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent of our season-ticket holders, and do you know what that means?

DS: That Sally Mason is going to haul you into her office and put you on notice?

GB: Hahahahaha. Are you kidding? As long as our cross country teams finish sixth or higher in the Big Ten, she doesn’t care what I do. Besides, she’s already shopping for a retirement condo in Maui.

DS: Then, what does it mean?

GB: It means when the season ends Kinnick’s gonna be stuck with 150,000 of the nastiest neglected hot dogs on God’s green earth. We pre-cooked ’em back in 2006 banking on eternal Kinnick sellouts.

KF: Just put them in the warmer until 2017 and 2018. People will eat them eventually.

GB: Great idea, Kirk. See, that’s why I have faith you’ll turn around our football program. Now, how about another extension.

LB: Oh for God’s sake.

GB: See, it’s that kind of swearing and abuse that can’t be tolerated around women’s athletes, Lisa.

FM: DAMN RIGHT BARTA!!! NOW GET ME 1,000 OF THOSE SHITTY HOT DOGS SO I CAN MAKE OGLESBY EAT ONE EVERY TIME HE PASSES UP AN OPEN SHOT!!!

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