Coaching Candidates

Dan McCarney was a solid hire and could very well have been a guy that coached 8 years here and retired. However, these last two years were epic miscalculations that resulted in the worst, most embarrassing loss in school history — quite a feat considering Papa Dodge’s first couple of seasons. Much of the goodwill, prestige, and any benefit of the doubt were burned up in the raging flame that was the opening five games of this season — where we were outscored by 172 points.

Greg listed his favorite candidates here, and I mentioned a couple in the comments/”forum” that intrigue me. Here are some thoughts on one I hadn’t considered but thought was interesting and a little more on one that might require some further thought.

Mark Mangino

Career record 50-28 all at Kansas

OC stop at Oklahoma during NC win, presently OC at Iowa State.

I like Mark Mangino as a candidate. He is the only dude that actually had success at Kansas — and not just 7-5 and a midlevel bowl one time — but an Orange Bowl win over VaTech. They were ranked #2 in the nation at one point. (They finished 7th that year in both polls.) Unfortunately he brings baggage. He was fired for yelling and saying inappropriate things to kids. (Saying awful things, apparently). I don’t condone it, but I also believe in a second chance. The guy can coach.

He rose to prominence as the offensive coordinator for Oklahoma in 2000, the year Bob Stoops won his only title, and upon which he has built his unfireable career. Mangino won the Frank Boyles award for his contributions. He continued the Air Raid stuff Mike Leach had installed, and later took this to Kansas. At Kansas he was the second winningest coach of all time, coached a bunch of offensive record-setting teams, and won a boatload of coaching awards for his 2007 season.

Good: Top 10 finish at Kansas, four bowl appearances (3-1), Five six-win seasons (one year passed over for bowl)
Bad: Fired for berating players, in eight seasons, only had three winning seasons.

Major Applewhite

Career Record: none as head man

OC Stops at Rice, ‘Bama, Texas, Houston, former Texas QB.

I like Applewhite for his name recognition around these parts, his experience at big (Texas, ‘Bama) and smaller programs (Houston, Rice), ups (playing experience, Rice turnaround, end of Colt McCoy Texas years, present Houston years) and downs (Syracuse awfulness, Alabama early struggle, later Texas years). I don’t hold some of the down year stuff against him, because Mack Brown / Greg Robinson were ultimately responsible. I also don’t like that he has moved around a ton, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t be successful. He likely would have stayed longer under Todd Graham (who also moves around a ton but is successful everywhere) but Graham left for Tulsa after one year.

He was rumored for the Houston job after Briles left. If you are wondering why he hasn’t had a gig before now, well it is partly because he hasn’t yet been associated with a nationally prominent offense with buzz like Kliff Kingsbury, which is the most likely reason he wasn’t seriously considered sooner.

He is only a year older than Kingsbury, who is one of the youngest in the nation. Forty is about the time when guys start getting head coaching gigs. Apple white is 37. For comparison, here is a list of the youngest FBS coaches in the nation.

North Texas is a special kind of beast.

Kingsbury’s name blew up when he rode the Johnny Football train to stardom, right when his alma mater had an opening. Things worked perfectly for him to get a head job, but he has struggled a bit growing into the gig. I imagine Major would have struggled mightily at Houston if he would have taken over there in 2007. As it is, he’s seen some good and bad times and I like that. He’s young enough to not be cynical or set in his ways, but old enough to have seen some things.

Good: Experience under National Title Winning Coaches, Good eye for talent, Modern offensive philosophy
Bad: He has more benefit of the doubt than than skins on the wall. He’s coached some bad teams.

Its easy to talk yourself into any coach, really. North Texas is a special kind of beast. We are in a small town in a big market. Denton exists in its own world, yet is outshone by the bright lights of the Metroplex. The only college football teams from DFW that have achieved near national championship status have been private schools in the hearts of the bigger towns. I say that to mean that any new guy will have public school problems with a tiny school budget, and you cannot be the boring because by no means are you the only game in town like Boise or Utah or BYU or any other little school that could.

That uniqueness is why I will always say that Dan McCarney’s transformation of a 3-9 team (2010 year before he arrived) to a 9-4 Bowl winning team (2013) is much more impressive than Larry Coker’s building of a 7-5 CUSA team in the UTSA program’s third year. Winning back fans who have seen many losses is harder than winning fans thirsty for football.

But Dan McCarney failed to “[keep] it rolling and couldn’t sustain it. That is really hard to swallow.”. Everyone sees the positives from the outside, even McCarney did. He talked about the priority being DFW and yet complained midway about the difficulty of doing just that.

So we soldier on looking for Mr. Right.