North Texas comes to Iowa City Saturday with a local flavor. Head Coach Dan McCarney and starting quarterback Andrew McNulty are City High grads.
While the reunion likely will be emotional for both men, McCarney hopes his senior signal caller won’t feel like he has to shoulder all of the responsibility for the Mean Green. Iowa is favored by 25.5 points so it will take more than a stellar effort from McNulty if it’s to pull off the improbable.
"This isn’t about the homecoming of Andrew McNulty and me," McCarney said. "This isn’t Bill Belichick and Tom Brady coming back to Iowa City. This is just two Iowa City natives proud of this opportunity and proud of our Iowa City roots. We’ll always be proud to be Iowans but we’re going to try to put ourselves in position to pull off a major upset and win a football game that most people don’t think we can.
"He’s going to have to play real well this week but I don’t want him bearing anymore weight than a normal starting quarterback needs to on any football team regardless of where you grew up at or where you came from."
McNulty, whose father Jim McNulty played with McCarney at the University of Iowa in the 1970s, was recruited by Iowa and Iowa State but not offered a scholarship. The Hawkeyes viewed him as a safety, which he played well at City High.
"He’s a tremendous young man and I’ve known him since he was a baby," McCarney said. "Andrew was in my camps when he was younger. I always thought that he had good talent and off the charts character and off the charts intangibles. He was recruited but never offered by Iowa or Iowa State and that’s fine."
McCarney is no stranger to being an underdog at Kinnick Stadium. Many Iowa fans probably remember their team being a 30-point favorite against his Iowa State team in 1998 and the Cyclones leaving town with a 27-9 victory that ended a 15-game series losing streak.
In his 12 seasons heading Iowa State, McCarney, whose father Pat McCarney was the long-time Iowa City Police Chief, posted a 6-6 record against the Hawkeyes and won five of the last seven meetings in which he was involved. He also was involved in many of the Iowa victories against the Cyclones as an assistant under legendary head coach Hayden Fry.
Back then, it was two Power 5 Conference schools locking up. McCarney now leads a lower level FBS team into his hometown.
"It’s a daunting challenge. We’re obviously an unbelievable underdog and rightfully so. Iowa is playing great football. We’ve been watching the tape non-stop. We’re really impressed. They’re well coached. Great fundamentals, they’re really physical and they’ve got some play-makers. There’s no doubt about it. We know it’s going to be a heck of a challenge," McCarney said.
The Mean Green stands at 0-2 after losing 38-24 at home to Rice on Saturday and 31-13 to SMU in Dallas in its opener. McNulty comes to town with a 104.1 efficiency rating with 431 passing yards and two touchdowns against three interceptions. Leading receiver Carlos Harris is averaging 116.5 yards and a touchdown a game.
You can hear more of McCarney’s thoughts on this week’s game and his history at Iowa and coaching against the Hawkeyes in this podcast.