Fran McCaffery did what he needed to do Monday morning.
The Iowa men’s basketball coach’s momentary meltdown at Wisconsin Sunday night became fodder for the Twitterverse and highlight-reel cable sports shows. It happened, it wasn’t a very good representation of the school or its basketball program, and the damage was done. But you either let it fester, or you get in front of it and immediately try to get it behind you.
On Monday morning, McCaffery didn’t simply hide behind some prepared statement, although he did put the obligatory one out, as did Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta.
McCaffery was as contrite as he gets on the weekly Big Ten coaches teleconference and on an ESPN podcast with college basketball commentators Andy Katz and Seth Greenberg.
Here are some excerpts from that podcast:
“I think any time a coach does something like that, you feel horrible about it because you don’t ever want to do anything other than help your team win the game. I feel terrible about that.”
“I don’t think you ever want to do anything that would in any way embarrass the program or the university. So if in any way that happened, I would apologize and feel horrible about that.”
About his chair-slamming incident at Michigan State two seasons ago: “That was completely different. I sort of snapped on what I thought was a lack of toughness on our team. That was not directed at the officials. I snapped during a timeout and our players completely understood it and we moved on from that. This was a different situation.”
On Sunday night’s officiating crew of Tom Eades, Tim Clougherty and John Gaffney: “You’re talking about three guys that are very well-respected. Those are big-time guys.”
“I have the utmost respect for the officials in that game. I know those guys know that.”
“You have to coach to your personality. What I hope is that our guys will reflect my personality with their intensity level on the floor and their ability to compete and battle.”
“The thing for us and the thing for me moving forward is to continue to coach with that kind of passion and try to see that my players reflect that, but at the same time stop short of, OK, getting the second ‘T’ and putting my guys in a tough spot. That, I can’t do, and that, I won’t do.”
In today’s film session with his players: “I would lean toward being more positive. Simply, from the standpoint that we played a perfect first-half, we fought them at the end. Yeah, we fell apart for a little bit. Yeah, we had the unfortunate incident. Let’s look at the positive tghings that happened and let’s grow from that. We had a number of guys who did some amazing things in that game.”
“I should have stopped after the first ‘T.’ I think we can all agree to that. You can say OK, I’ll talk to my assistants and say ‘What were you guys doing, why didn’t you get me out of there if you felt like I was going to go too far? We’re all in this together, you come and get me.’ Because sometimes you’re in a position where you’re feeling emotion and you feel the need to get your point across. When it’s bang-bang like that, you’re not done. But the reality is you’ve got to be done. You’ve got to move on.”