IOWA CITY — Gary Barta has already put Fran McCaffery’s wife on notice.
When the Iowa athletic director introduced McCaffery on Monday, Barta looked over to Margaret McCaffery and jokingly said, “We’ve put seat belts on your seat in Carver already.”
Margaret’s passion for basketball is well documented.
She was ejected during a Siena game four years ago after her husband was tossed.
Then, after an overtime loss in February 2008, she walked into the press room — moments before her husband arrived for his news conference — and said “we got hosed” when talking about the officiating.
Fran downplayed the officiating, but Margaret piped up again. Finally, Fran said, “Marg, that’s enough.”
“You had to be there to understand,” she explained Monday. “It got blown completely out of proportion. I never thought anybody would care what I had to say. I regret it, and it’s not something I run around doing all the time.
“That said, I don’t apologize for being passionate about the game, my husband and the team.”
Margaret and Fran met at Notre Dame while they worked as assistant coaches. Margaret was a former player for the Irish, and was recruited by Vivian Stringer at Iowa.
“I come into it with a different level of knowledge of the game, and I see it in a different way than maybe some other wives or husbands who haven’t been involved at that level,” she said.
Margaret doesn’t attend the news conferences anymore, but she and their four children will be involved in the program. They’ll attend games and practices.
“Fran and I talk a lot about the game and the players and the practices,” she said. “I think I give him a different perspective on things at times.
“I’m content with one coach in the family. He gets me as a free assistant.”
Settles meets Julia
During his opening remarks, McCaffery pointed out he recruited former Hawkeye Jess Settles while he was an assistant coach at Notre Dame.
In fact, during Settles’ visit to South Bend, the school arranged for the Winfield-Mount Union product to meet actress Julia Roberts — whose former boyfriend, actor Jason Patric, was an avid Notre Dame fan.
“An 18-year-old boy never forgets meeting Julia Roberts,” Settles said.
Still, it wasn’t enough to convince Settles to come to Notre Dame.
“The thing I always remember is nobody in (Settles’) family wanted him to come to Notre Dame,” McCaffery said. “This was an uphill battle from day one.”
McCaffery met with the team Sunday night. He had individual meetings with several players Monday and was slated to conduct more today.
He’ll also reach out this week to the four players who signed letters of intent last November and plans to eventually meet them in person.
“He seems like a great guy, a good fit for Iowa,” freshman point guard Cully Payne said. “He knows a lot about us.”
Asked about his coaching staff Monday, McCaffery said Jerry Strom — longtime director of basketball operations — will be retained.
From there, McCaffery plans to fill in the pieces in the coming days.
“I have some coaches on my staff presently that I would give strong consideration to that I know,” he said. “They know how to work, they know how to recruit. They’re talented.”