The 2009 University of North Texas football season is upon us. Fall Camp has started. We know who is going to be on the team , and who isn’t. This season is pivotal in the development of the UNT program, the future of the university, and of course, the future of the beloved football coach Todd Dodge.
I have said before that I am a believer in giving a coach at least three years before any serious talk of replacing him begins. I has been really hard to argue with proponents of the ‘Fire Dodge’ agenda. When you can only beat pseudo-FBS schools with any regularily *ahem* WKU*ahem*, you are going to get questions about your coaching ability. Add to that the fact that his teams not only have been losing, but losing in a ridicoulous manner (77 points to Rice?!??), and I have had a hard time fending off the accusations that PapaDodge is deserving of even one more day at this level.
But all that ends this year. He has had three years to mold this team into his image. He has his son, an eight year veteran of his system, two and a half years of recruiting classes, and a new stadium on the way. It is time.
Why he has a good chance of staying longer:
There has been a marked improvement in the athletic department. The afore mentioned stadium really can’t be put on Dodge’s resume, but as coach he does have to do his share of schmoozing so will give him credit. He is a local guy and his initial hiring inspired a lot of local interest in UNT and we no doubt have parleyed that into some donations and support over the last three years. So, keeping a local dude, is a plus.
The team is improving. Well, not yet. But expectations are that they will. NYTimes’s college football blog predicts a decent season, and a few others have predicted finishing second. Now this has really no bearing on the season, but right now he is in a safe spot. The people who matter are giving him the benefit of the doubt. The air of optimism and hope that so often clouds any given preseason blinds the viewer to the fact that all the predictions hang on intagibles. Sure, it can be argued that the late signings of Anyiam and the other guy are tangible signs of improvement. But their value lies in the most intangible category of potential.
Still, these types of signings are helpful for continuing PapaDodge’s tenure here. Sign fell-throught-the-cracks-talent, have your QB throw spirals that make reporters gush the first day of practice, and you do well to convince the powers that be that you are still the right man for the job.
Why he has a good chance of getting canned:
That cloud of preseason optimism I talked about? Well that gets cleared out about week three or four when your team demonstrates its true abilities. Anyone remember the hype a few years back when Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas were going to be unstoppable? Turns out the offense was pretty stoppable, huh?
This happens every year to almost every team outside of like, Florida and USC. (Yes, even Texas, guys. Did you forget the Colt McCoy tried to do too much his sophomore season, already?)
Everyone knows this. Its okay. You only get three disappointments before people can start firing you for being a disappointment.
*This, of course, being my thinking. As it happens, college football AD’s, now saddled with immense pressure are now pulling the trigger far quicker than ever before. At least to my eyes.
This is year three for Todd Dodge. The first year he came in, we all thought he would break open the offense and we would score in bunches. After we showed decent offensive improvement, but still sucked, we all looked back and realized that maybe we fell into the hype. Sure, we thought, he had a team not suited to his style. He needs time to adjust to this level. He fired the coach. It makes sense now! We will be unstoppable next year! Woo! GMG!
After year two: Oh man, he needs time to better the defense. Good thing he brought in that DeLoach guy. Vizza wasn’t that good anyway. Riley is the man! His spirals are awesome! We have like 5 backs who can start for any team in America! TE is the new secret weapon! GMG!
Alright, you’re so smart, what do YOU think will happen?
People are expecting better things out of North Texas this year. It is natural to think so. Its his third year, so his team should know his offense inside and out. He should have his guys to run his system. He knows his competition already. His kid is starting QB. Why wouldn’t he succeed?
To be honest, I thought these same things. Actually, I want to believe these things are true. However, I think the final product will look something like a 3 or 4 win team. The question that RV and we have to ask ourselves is this: Is that enough of an improvement to keep him around?
Even more of a concern, and probably the biggest non-football reason he is going to stay the head coach here is his contract. UNT has had enough trouble trying to build a 30 million dollar stadium, to have two head coaches on the payroll.
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