Goodbye Mike Canales

Mike Canales is a passionate guy. He really believes that positive enthusiasm is the lifeblood of coaching. He lived it as interim coach here in two stints five years apart. The first was far more successful than his second, and although much of the goodwill surrounding coach Canales stems from his 2010 tenure, it was his contributions to the firing of Dan McCarney that ultimately doomed both Mac and Mike Canales: HC, Part 2.
Ed note: This article has been updated with the archived version of some links that were removed later.
A QB coach by trade, he lived off the reputation gained from coaching up Phillip Rivers at NCState. A closer look at his previous stops reveal a lot of similar complaints to the ones we had about him this season. QBs that don’t improve? Yep. Offenses that seem unoriginal and robotic? Yep. Play calling that doesn’t adjust to the game? Yep.

While initially I was skeptical of the hire, I was eventually won over. He showed some things in 2010, and even throughout his tenure under McCarney. He still seemed innovative . . . sometimes. He had some real gems here and there, and even this season brought some wrinkles that played to his team’s strengths.

Here are some times I praised him:

Here is probably the most damning evidence against him:

The fact that we had very poor QB play these last two years, and only mediocre play before that is damning in and of itself. The 2013 team set offensive records but that was largely due to the number of games played (13). For example, the 2013 team’s yards per play? 5.61. The 2009 team (pre-Canales)? 5.89. The totals aren’t much better. The 2013 team peaked at 410 per game, which was good for 64th in the nation that year. That was only slightly improved from the low 70s the team ranked before and after.

The point is that whether you blame Dan McCarney for limiting him or not, he had plenty of opportunity to put his imprint on the team. His job was to coordinate the offense and the numbers say he was okay-to-poor. He might be better as a Head Coach, where he can help imprint the offense but let someone else call the plays on game day.

Like many Canales observers before I will add to the chorus of praise for him as a person. He seems like a great guy. His former players are effusive in their praise — and I don’t mean only the former UNT players. However, I won’t say he “deserves” a head coaching job, because my definition includes results and not just personality. I will say I am rooting for him to get one, because I want good things to happened to good people.

Here is an excerpt of Mike Canales’ farewell statement. You can read the rest on Vito’s blog:

I believe in my heart the Mean Green program will be back stronger than ever in the near future. I look forward to Saturday with a heavy heart, but I can walk away with my head held high for I will forever know how special North Texas and Denton have been in my life and my coaching career.

He was part of the HOD win, and he’ll always be a part of Mean Green lore because of it. He got he first victory over UTSA, and with that probably saved this season from being winless, and so he will get some kudos for that.

Happy Trails, Mike! Here’s hoping you get that head coaching gig you’ve always wanted 1.

  1. UTSA? That would be very interesting for this rivalry, wouldn’t it?