Ames, Iowa Iowa State coach Dan McCarney is confused and frustrated by how the season has gone, and his players, he said, are "emotionally spent" by all the rumors concerning his job status.
Not exactly comforting words to hear from a team with two games left to play.
But losing has taken a toll on the Cyclones - and fueled speculation about McCarney's future. Saturday's dismal 41-10 loss to Kansas, which knocked the Cyclones out of postseason contention, only made the buzz surrounding McCarney's job status louder.
Athletic director Jamie Pollard said last week that he won't talk about McCarney until after the season. Monday, McCarney took a somewhat unusual step of asking reporters not to ask his players about his future, calling it a burden they don't need to bear.
"It's a complete distraction right now," McCarney said. "I think it's way too much for these kids."
Despite what many people considered the nation's toughest schedule, nobody thought Iowa State (3-7, 0-6 Big 12) would struggle as much as it has. The Cyclones have lost all six of their conference games by an average of 22 points, rank 11th in the Big 12 in scoring offense and last in scoring defense.
It was clear early on that the Cyclones would have a tough time living up to their billing as the second-best team in the Big 12 North, which is where the conference's coaches slotted them in the preseason poll.
The Cyclones needed triple overtime to survive a Toledo team that is currently 3-6 and barely survived against UNLV, which is now 1-8. They haven't beaten a I-A opponent since, joining Stanford as the only BCS-conference school to start 0-6 in league play.