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The Fran McCaffery Press Conference Primer: What Will Be The Talking Points?

Fran is a lover of players.
Fran is a lover of players.

Later this morning as Gary Barta steps to the podium, puffs out his chest and flashes a toothy shit-eating grin, and introduces Fran McCaffery to Hawkeyes across the land; one might wonder what he will say? More important yet, what will the new coach of the once proud Iowa Hawkeye basketball program say to validate Barta's decision to hire him?

While these press conferences tend to be tightly scripted and play out with little or no surprise disclosures or confessions, there will nevertheless be coded messages that with the proper briefing can be translated and decoded for later analysis. So here is what you need to look for later this morning:

  • Expect Barta to say he looked high and low across the basketball landscape and considered every conceivable candidate, and interviewed some formally and others informally. However, when he interviewed Fran McCaffery, once the Siena coach uttered his first sentence it was as plain as day he was destined to be the next head coach of Iowa basketball. [CHECK]
  • Bata will praise McCaffery's value, work ethic and competitive desire. The term "fit" will be overused. [CHECK]
  • Expect Barta to praise McCaffery's track record of graduating players, and in doing so, make it clear that players who start with him, finish with him. [CHECK]
  • Barta will highlight some distinctions between McCaffery and other candidates -- which Barta will term as "criteria" -- but if you listen carefully you will actually hear Barta highlighting the differences between McCaffery and Lickliter. [CHECK more or less]
  • At some point Barta will say McCaffery just "looks" like a winner. [NOPE]
  • Barta will emphasize McCaffery's intelligence and basketball IQ and one way or another point out he played at an Ivy League school and has a business school graduate degree which proves he "gets" the off-the-court side of being a basketball coach. [NOPE although he said he understands the other issues]
  • Barta and McCaffery will use the words "excited" and "exciting" at least 20 times over the course of the press conference and during questioning. [9 times]
  • McCaffery will use the words "grateful" and "humbled" at least 10 times. [NOPE, grateful used 2 times, humbled not at all, which I liked]
  • McCaffery will make a joke that he did not direct The Breakfast Club, is not advocating for a flat tax as a presidential candidate, and has never written political commentary. [NOPE, but should have]
  • Barta and McCaffery will stress repeatedly, like the rhythmic beating of a drum, that the new offense will be "up-tempo," and will do so as many times as is humanly possible. [tough call, I'll say NOPE]
  • McCaffery will say because of his long stint at Notre Dame he is a Midwesterner or is "at heart" a Midwesterner or will say that because his wife is a Midwesterner (from Minneapolis) he is by osmosis a Midwesterner, and he will exclaim that in his home his kids are being raised with Midwestern values. No one will ask him though, what exactly the term Midwesterner means. [NOPE, but Minneapolis was stressed]
  • The word "special" will be used ad nauseam. [NOPE]
  • McCaffery will also cite his time at Notre Dame as showing him the value of being at a school that loves its football and that because he's very familiar with coaching at a football school he not only isn't bothered by it, he missed it at his head coaching stops and prefers it -- even sees it as a huge recruiting advantage. Then he'll cite Kirk Ferentz as the model coach, although it is unclear if he'll discuss Brands or Bluder. Probably will. [NOPE and CHECK]
  • McCaffery will clarify the well-chronicled moment when he and his wife were ejected from a game at Siena as embarrassing but overblown by the media and an indication of his partnership and shared passion for winning with his wife. He will avoid using the term "hot" in discussing this though. Then he will say all his players just "love" his wife. This will be the most uncomfortable moment of the press conference. [NOPE, never came up directly thankfully but a seat belts reference was made]
  • McCaffery will explain that he has taken over programs that were down before and that he is familiar with fans that are cynical or disenchanted, and the only answer is to go out on the court and win games. The term winning and winning games will be used a lot. He'll also explain that he LOVES challenges. [CHECK more or less]
  • At some point Pat Harty will ask McCaffery if he's ever seen Iowa play. [NOPE, thankfully]
  • McCaffery will say he expects Iowa to be his last job. Barta will not say he expects Iowa to be his last job. [NOPE and CHECK]
  • Some players will attend the conference and later say they always hated Lickliter. Actually, they won't. But they will say enough that one will be able to decipher who was going to leave and who was going to stay if Lickliter was not fired.[TBD]
  • McCaffery will praise Iowa's basketball resources by saying that at Siena they practiced outdoors on a playground court that only allowed for them to play half court, and that they trained on a used Bowflex machine he found at a yard sale in Albany. Thus, he will claim, he's tickled pink (pun intended) with what he will have to work with at Iowa. [CHECK and NOPE]
  • McCaffery will say he expects to go to the NCAA tournament "sooner rather than later" but never give an actual timeline. [CHECK]
  • Over the course of the press conference the name Digger Phelps will come up more than the name Todd Lickliter. [NOPE]
  • Once the transcript is released BHGP will do a thorough, detailed analysis of each word, sentence, and turn of phrase in order to squeeze every ounce of meaning out of it. Or not. We'll see how it goes.