North Texas hired Eric Morris as the new head coach of the Mean Green football program. If you are a long-time reader of this little site, you might remember that MGN visited with coach Morris back when he was the head man at the University of Incarnate Word. To be absolutely honest, MGN was interested in him because of his intriguing coaching pedigree — a member of the Mike Leach coaching tree (Rest in Peace), a Texas Tech alumnus, recruiting chops, offensive chops, etc — and at the time Seth Littrell was rumored to be leaving for bigger and better jobs.
When he got the UIW job, “the first guy I needed to call and I have talked to him a ton in this process is Seth Littrell. I have called Seth a ton since I got this job just to ask questions.” I’m sure there were some calls and discussions with Littrell about the job, however awkward it might be going forward. You might also remember that Joel Filani was a North Texas outside receiver coach in Denton. Well, he currently is plying his trade at WSU, and spend this last year along side Morris.
I think we can assume he knows what North Texas is all about.
“I am incredibly honored to be the head football coach at North Texas. I am humbled and grateful for the opportunity given to me by Jared Mosley and President Smatresk to lead UNT Football into a new era in The American. As a native Texan, I understand the pride and standard of Mean Green football and I am humbled to be able to lead this storied program. My wife, Maggie, and our boys are so excited to return home. We can’t wait to meet the team and get to work.”Morris via press release
So what about Eric Morris? He’s from Shallowater, Texas and played wideout at Tech. He had a brief career in the CFL and has been the offensive coordinator at Tech and Washington State. In between those gigs he was the head guy at UIW, building the small catholic university’s football program and building the foundation of a powerhouse offensive squad that is in the FCS playoffs right now. You can look up the stats and the rankings — some critics are pointing out the struggles of the current WSU team, but I think the overall corpus of work is clear in showing he knows how to put together a good offense.
Most importantly, he recruited Patrick Mahomes, and Cam Ward. The former is a future NFL hall-of-famer and the later was incredible at UIW and very good at WSU. North Texas has struggled to find top-tier (even G5) quarterback play since Mason Fine picked up his diploma. The guy was a receiver and we can expect he knows a good quarterback. Beyond that, he has won. He won two league titles at UIW and for me, that is no small thing.
North Texas put up a lot of offensive numbers in the last seven years but came away with only one division title, and a second-place finish twice in the league. This weekend’s bowl game will be the first time NT has won post-season hardware since January 2014 if they can manage to pull off an upset over Boise St. Filling up the trophy case is what everyone comes to work to do.
NT fans were hoping for a coach that could connect with Texas, and while Morris isn’t a high school coach he has lived and recruited Texas his whole coaching career. It is quite the next best thing. North Texas has loads of talent on offense and hiring an offensive guy will go a long way toward making sure that remains the case. The hard work of recruiting current players begins now.
Beyond that, the hire is a little more exciting than the other guys on the short-list of rumors. The unofficial pulse of the fan base was one of cautious optimism at the rumor of Kenny Perry but no one was jumping for joy. It was more of a furrowed brow while googling. Eric Morris is not a gigantic name, but he is known to college-football watchers and people who follow the game. He has a pedigree and has a mix of potential and accomplishments. It is — on paper — a very good hire for North Texas.