BYU men's volleyball: McGown father-son combo hoping to lead Cougars to another title

2014-04-29T06:00:00Z 2014-05-01T22:49:23Z BYU men's volleyball: McGown father-son combo hoping to lead Cougars to another titleJared Lloyd Daily Herald Daily Herald
April 29, 2014 6:00 am  • 

Three BYU men's volleyball national championship banners hang in the rafters at the Smith Fieldhouse, representing titles won in 1999, 2001 and 2004.

The first two came under the direction of Hall-of-Fame head coach Carl McGown, a legend who helped develop the Cougar program into the perennial national power it is today.

His son Chris McGown, now the head coach at BYU, would love to give his dad -- who is now a volunteer assistant for the Cougars -- the chance to be there when BYU raises another title banner.

"It would be phenomenal, of course," Chris said. "At times it's not been easy to have this relationship with your dad who knows everything there is to know. He doesn't want to overstep his bounds and yet at the same time he wants to see good things for me. Having him as a resource and knowing he wants me and the team to be good has been great. He's as invested as anyone and to be able to have this experience together, it will be great. It would be nice to win, obviously."

The Cougars get a chance to do that this week as they head to Chicago for the 2014 NCAA men's volleyball tournament. As the No. 2 seed, they get a bye to Thursday's semifinals, where they will face either Stanford or Erskine (5 p.m. MDT, NCAA.com).

It might seem like an interesting situation to have a very successful coach like Carl (who was 225-137 during his stretch at the helm of BYU from 1989-2002) return after basically a decade away from the program he helped put on the map, but he wasn't about to be a figurehead.

"When he signed on as a volunteer, he said he didn't want to just show up to practice," Chris said. "He wanted a job, to be put to work. We said take the middles and he said, 'Good, I'm good at that.' He's been great. He's worked with them in practice, he's worked with them out of practice, he watches film with them, he takes notes for them. If the middles are good, it's been because he's been a big part of working with them."

Blocking has been one of the Cougar strengths this season and guys like senior middle blocker Devin Young give Carl a lot of credit for getting them to this point.

"Carl has been working with the middles a lot and after every week, we go watch film with Carl," Young said. "He's an incredible coach and I love those film sessions where I get to go in and he sees the smallest things I'm doing wrong. He helps me refine my game every week."

BYU senior All-American outside hitter Taylor Sander agrees that Carl has had a big impact for the team.

"Carl is a great guy and he wants us to get better," Sander said. "Chris is able to learn from him and he gives us great feedback. He has so much knowledge of the game and we listen to the things he's said. We've gotten really good at blocking because he pushes us."

Chris said the number of things that Carl has helped him develop for the team would be impossible to count.

"There is an endless list," the current Cougar head coach said. "He'll talk about thinking of this type of environment for the locker room or showing this film or that we haven't emphasized something for awhile. There are dozens and dozens of little bits of advice that he passes along in the course of a week or two weeks."

Chris grinned when he said that he usually tries to take the credit for many of those ideas.

"Most of the time I try to take credit for it and not tell the guys 'My dad said we should do this,' " Chris said. "But he's been invaluable. He's a nice counterbalance because he's seen so much. I tend to get fired up and emotional, but I think he understands the rhythms of the game. It's been awesome having him here."

The players have developed a respect and appreciation for both the knowledge and the passion that both of the McGowns bring to the court.

Young said the best way to show the father-son combo on the coaching staff what they've meant would be to go out and get another championship.

"It would be awesome," Young said. "I think that would be the biggest compliment we could give to them."

BYU leaves for Chicago on Tuesday and then will find out that night who they will be facing as Stanford (the No. 3 seed) and Erskine (the No. 6 seed) compete in the first round of the NCAA tournament in a match scheduled to start at 5 p.m. MDT.

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