Brent Yarina, Senior Editor, March 18, 2014

Fran McCaffery has a lot more on his mind than Iowa's first NCAA tourney game since 2006. The Hawkeyes open the NCAA tourney Wednesday night vs. Tennessee, but, in the hours leading up to tip, McCaffery will have traveled to Dayton, Ohio, back to Iowa City, and to Dayton again.

[ MORE: View the official interactive NCAA bracket ]

Sometimes, father duties call, and that's exactly the case for McCaffery, whose son, Patrick, 13, is having surgery Wednesday to remove a thyroid tumor, just hours before Iowa's first-round game.


McCaffery, however, has worked out a schedule to allow himself to fill the role of coach and father. The Hawkeyes arrived in Dayton on Monday, and  McCaffery will head back to Iowa City after practice and the last of several team meetings Tuesday night.

"Hopefully, I'll be back before the last meeting we have," McCaffery said, "which is typically right before pregame meal or right after pregame meal and be ready to coach the game, assuming all goes well."

No matter what happens, the Hawkeyes will have Patrick on their minds. The team wore #teampat shooting shirts to support Patrick last Thursday in the team's Big Ten tourney opener.

"Coach McCaffery is our guy," star Devyn Marble said. "We love him. We're all like family. Pat is a guy that's basically at practice with us every day. He's like our little brother."

About Brent Yarina senior editor Brent Yarina covers football and men's basketball for He writes the popular uniform feature "Clothes Call," which also focuses on the latest cosmetic changes across Big Ten arenas and stadiums. Read all of his work here. You can subscribe to Yarina's RSS feed and follow him on Twitter @BTNBrentYarina.