Like many long-suffering Philadelphia Eagles fans, Iowa coach Fran McCaffery is hoping for a win over the New England Patriots on Sunday in Super Bowl 52. But McCaffery’s connection to the Eagles is more personal than most.
He worked for the team as an usher when he was in high school.
“Basically, I just wanted to go to the games,” he said. “I didn’t have a lot of money to buy the tickets. I would go down. They would pay me $10 to show people to their seats and I would get to watch the game.”
McCaffery recalled being at an event soon after the Eagles hired Dick Vermeil to be the team’s new coach in 1976 and feeling inspired by Vermeil’s words:
“It was one of the most impressive speeches I’ve ever heard. I said this guy, he’s going to get this thing going. He was a coach when I was an usher and they were winning. They had Wilbert Montgomery and Harold Carmichael and Ron Jaworski and that bunch. Before that it was Roman Gabriel and a few others. They weren’t as good, but they were still decent. Yeah, those were fun years.”
Asked for his Super Bowl pick, McCaffery didn’t hesitate. The Eagles “are going to win. No question about it,” he said.
McCaffery would certainly like his struggling Hawkeyes to put together the type of run the Eagles have. Iowa (12-12) sits in 12th place in the Big Ten standings, ahead of only Illinois and Rutgers. It’s been a disappointing campaign for a program that is just one season removed from its third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth.
Iowa returns to the hardwood Saturday at 6 p.m. ET on the road against Penn State on the Big Ten Network.