Tag:North Texas
Posted on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2011 2:31 pm

Headset Reset: reviewing hires in C-USA, Sun Belt

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

"Headset Reset" is the College Football Blog's series reviewing the 22 new head coaches in the FBS and what they'll need to accomplish in their new jobs to succeed. In this edition: the four new head coaches in Conference USA and the Sun Belt .


Why him? Former Tulsa quarterback was promoted from running backs/special teams coach to maintain 10-3, top-25 status quo. For 2011, Blankenship needs to: find a replacement for departed offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who took the same position at Clemson after being passed over the Tulsa head job; the right hire could turn Tulsa's nine returning offensive starters (including quarterback G.J. Kinne and all-purpose weapon Damaris Johnson) into another double-digit win season. By 2014, Blankenship will need to have: won a C-USA title. For all of the Golden Hurricane's offensive fireworks under Todd Graham, their only league championship came back in 2005 under Steve Kragthorpe. Chances Blankenship gets what he needs? Fair-to-middling. Tulsa's points-happy brand should be strong enough to keep them near the top of the league standings (provided Blankenship doesn't blow the OC hire), but will simply promoting a position coach really be enough to get them over the hump?

DAN McCARNEY, North Texas (pictured)

Why him? Far and away the most recognizable name among the new C-USA/SBC hires, the 57-year-old McCarney spent 12 successful seasons as Iowa State's head coach before supervising the defensive lines at South Florida and Florida. For 2011, McCarney needs to: just offer some kind of hope. The snake-bitten Mean Green (4 losses in 2010 by total of 13 points) have won only 13 games in six seasons. By 2014, McCarney will need to have: found some semblance of a defense. UNT hasn't had too many problems offensively, but they won't accomplish anything until one of the nation's worst defenses is brought up to code. Chances McCarney gets what he needs? Decent. McCarney may be a little too long in the tooth (and the program may have decayed too badly) to bring back the Mean Green's early-Aughts glory days, but the old pro should have the defensive chops to at least bring UNT back to respectability.

HUGH FREEZE, Arkansas State

Why him? Former Ole Miss assistant made famous by The Blind Side was promoted from offensive coordinator after leading Red Wolves to better than 400 yards per game, vaulting them from 95th to 43rd in total offense. For 2011, Freeze needs to: get to .500. Disappointing 4-8 records the last two seasons earned Steve Roberts a pink slip, but with Ryan Aplin back at quarterback and better luck due after going 1-5 in one-possession games in 2010, there's no reason (other than a revamped offensive line) Freeze can't get the Red Wolves back to 6-6. By 2014, Freeze will need to have: established ASU as an upper-tier Sun Belt program. Getting past Troy and up-and-coming FIU won't be easy, but there's nothing stopping the Red Wolves from joining in the SBC mix. Chances Freeze gets what he needs? Good. Freeze knows his way around the Arkansas and Tennessee recruiting scenes and has a sharp offensive mind; those traits alone should be enough to get the Red Wolves back to the postseason (for the first time since 2005) sooner rather than later.

MARK HUDSPETH, Lousiana (formerly UL-Lafayette)

Why him? Before taking a job on Dan Mullen's staff at Mississippi State , Hudpseth excelled as the head coach at Division II North Alabama, going 66-20 in seven seasons. For 2011, Hudspeth needs to: right the ship. A series of near-misses at a winning season under Rickey Bustle dissolved in a 3-9 disaster in 2010; a simple step in the right direction will be enough for one of the FBS's most tradition-deficient programs. By 2014, Hudspeth will need to have: earned a bowl bid. The Ragin' Cajuns have never taken part in FBS postseason play. Chances Hudspeth gets what he needs? Not bad. There's room to be upwardly mobile in the Sun Belt, and despite a relatively bare cupboard, Hudspeth has quality head coaching experience at only 42 years of age.

Posted on: November 29, 2010 12:16 pm

Meyer caught off guard by McCarney departure?

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Maybe it doesn't mean anything. Maybe it's an accurate portrayal of the kind of miscommunication and perhaps even distrust that helps lead a program that won two national titles in three years and nearly played for a third into a 7-5 crater. Maybe the reporting simply isn't accurate. But it sounds like Urban Meyer wasn't aware that his defensive line coach was about to accept the head coaching position at North Texas :
The Denton (Tex.) Record-Chronicle is reporting that Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney, who is also the Gators' assistant head coach, will be named as the new head coach at North Texas either today or Tuesday.
UF coach Urban Meyer said after Saturday night's 31-7 loss at Florida State he was unaware of McCarney's possible departure. The Texas paper, however, reported Sunday that a contract is being finalized.
If that's accurate, then McCarney stepped onto the sidelines for Florida 's humiliation against Florida State having already told the Mean Green he'd be accepting their offer ... but without having told Meyer the same. Obviously McCarney wouldn't want his negotiations to go public in the press, becoming a distraction in the days leading up to the game (not that it would have made any difference, apparently), but wouldn't the professional approach be to at least inform his immediate superior? If Meyer's telling the truth that McCarney hadn't discussed the matter with him, is this kind of disconnect between Meyer and his staff indicative of why the Gators have floundered so badly this season?

Those are difficult questions to answer, but we can at least say with certainty that McCarney's departure at this relatively late stage won't help Meyer's stated goal to "build [Florida] back up" via the avenue of recruiting ; while it's debatable whether McCarney maximized the immense talents on his defensive line (which has seen several high-profile busts as well as several smashing successes), the arrival last season of the nation's best defensive line class (and arguably the best in the recruiting rankings' history) shows that his recruiting touch, at the very least, won't easily be replaced. That Meyer appears to have been surprised by McCarney's defection won't help him find a replacement in a hurry, either, though at Florida it's also safe to say there won't be any shortage of qualified candidates.

As for North Texas, the hire seems like a good one; the veteran McCarney should know how to walk UNT back to respectability before they start running back towards Sun Belt championships. But back in Gainesville, his departure creates even more difficult questions for a program that, after this lost season, has no shortage of them at the moment.

Posted on: November 23, 2010 11:26 am

North Texas turns down desperate WAC

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

These are dark times indeed for the WAC and commissioner Karl Benson , who have seen every step forward they've tried to take in the conference expansion wars followed by a giant step back. They thought they had forged a deal with BYU ; the Mountain West responded by poaching Nevada and Fresno State to push BYU into independence. They invited UT-San Antonio and Texas State to maintain their basic viability as a football league; then Hawaii responds to the two extra trips into the Central Time Zone by taking their ball and -- probably -- joining the MWC , too. 

That maneuver has left the WAC with just seven football schools again, one short of the mandated FBS minimum. The league's profile has sunk to the point where not only is the league looking to poach schools from the Sun Belt , the FBS's weakest, most tradition-deficient conference ... those schools are barely giving the WAC the time of day :
North Texas athletic director Rick Villarreal told WAC commissioner Karl Benson that the school has no interest in joining the league late Monday night, just hours after Benson called to gauge the school’s interest in leaving the Sun Belt Conference.

“I told [Benson] that while we appreciate the interest, the University of North Texas is going to be a member of the Sun Belt Conference and will work to continue building the league,” Villarreal said. “We appreciate the opportunity and wish them luck as they move forward.”
Keep in mind that that it's hardly like UNT is a pillar in the current Sun Belt; the coach-less Mean Green have been one of Division I's sickliest programs since a run of SBC titles in the early aughts. As the Sun Belt's only Texas team, they should theoretically also leap at the chance to forge natural rivalries with UTSA and Texas State, and there's little question that with strong programs like Utah State and New Mexico State around, the WAC would represent a substantial step up in quality for UNT's improving men's hoops team.

And still North Texas barely even considered the WAC's offer before publicly shooting them down. When the Sun Belt isn't just seen as the better option but the definitively better option, for a team that makes some geographical sense for the WAC, Benson has some major, major troubles. If they can't convince slow-moving Montana to make the leap to the FBS sooner than anticipated, the WAC may truly, finally be finished as a conference.


Posted on: October 20, 2010 11:43 am

Todd Dodge out at North Texas

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Quite frankly, after his Mean Green started 2010 with one win in only seven attempts, the question of Todd Dodge 's eventual dismissal as head coach at North Texas wasn't a matter of "if" but "when." As it turns out, the answer to "when" was Wednesday morning :


Dodge was arguably the top high school coach in the country during his time at Southlake Carroll and had a chance at UNT to prove that, unlike Gerry Faust at Notre Dame, he could translate that success to the college level.

UNT pulled the plug less than four years into the experiment Wednesday when it became apparent the gamble was a complete failure.

Dodge never won more than two games in his first three seasons at UNT, which is 1-6 just past the midway point of his fourth season. He finished with overall record of 6-37 for a winning percentage of 13.9, the worst in the history of major team sports at the school.

There's no Ron Zook-style coaching out the string here; offensive coordinator Mike Canales will serve as the team's interim head coach. Possible replacements include either Oklahoma co-offensive coordinators Jay Norvell or Kevin Wilson , or other Texas-connected assistants like Oklahoma State's Dana Holgorsen or Texas's Major Applewhite .

Unlike some of the other programs scraping the bottom of the D-I barrel, there's no question that's possible to win at Texas's fourth-largest university. (36,000 students at UNT, folks. The More You Know .) Under previous head coach Darrell Dickey , the Mean Green completely dominated the nascent Sun Belt in the early part of the previous decade, winning four consecutive conference titles from 2001 through 2004.

But UNT struggled through Dickey's final two seasons and decided to turn to Dodge, whose high-flying offense at Southlake Carroll -- arguably the best high school program in the country under his watch and producer of major quarterback talents like Missouri's Chase Daniel and Alabama's Greg McElroy -- promised to put both fans in the seats and wins on the scoreboard. For the most part, Dodge got the offensive results he needed, guiding the Mean Green to three straight top-60 finishes in total offense and a No. 36 ranking in 2009. But the UNT defense never evolved beyond "train wreck" status on Dodge's watch, finishing 113th, 120th (out of 120, remember), and 97th his first three seasons.

To be fair, Dodge has been also forced to deal with more than his share of bad luck over the past two seasons. The 2009 Mean Green finished 2-10 but went an ugly 0-5 in games decided by four points or less. With better luck and Dodge's most experienced lineup, 2010 was supposed to be UNT's breakthrough, but injuries to starting quarterback Nathan Tune , backup QB Derek Thompson , and even wide receiver-slash-emergency quarterback Riley Dodge (the coach's son) crippled the offense and forced walk-on Chase Baine into the starter's role in last week's 24-19 loss to Arkansas State .

Bad luck or not, though, coaches who go 6-37 across three-and-a-half seasons don't get a fifth one. And so it will likely be a long while before any team -- even in the Sun Belt -- attempts to hire a high school head coach again.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 11:05 am

North Texas WR runs from dog, punctures chest

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Dog is man's best friend.  This is a statement you've no doubt heard many times in your life, but what they don't mention is that dog is man's best friend when that dog belongs to the said man he is BFF with.  There are plenty of instances when a dog is not even remotely interested in being your friend as much as it's interested in burying its teeth in your backside.

North Texas
receiver Tyler Stradford met such a canine last week, and now he's going to miss the next few weeks following surgery for a puncture wound in his chest.  Oh, and this is where I mention that Tyler got away from the dog.  So where did the puncture wound come from?

Stradford was running away from a dog at his apartment complex when he jumped a fence, landed on a piece of lawn furniture and had a piece of pipe puncture four inches into his chest. The Oklahoma transfer is not expected to return until the team's game at Western Kentucky on Oct. 30.

That sounds pretty painful.  Though I do wonder if the piece of pipe was part of the lawn furniture that Stradford broke, which would mean it wasn't really a pipe unless somebody was keeping a sink on their patio, or if it was actually a pipe.  Then I'd want to know why somebody has a pipe just sitting out back.

Is it like keeping a spare tire in your trunk?  Is this person just trying to be ready in case of a plumbing emergency?
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