CUSA Stuff

What Does 2016 Realignment Mean for North Texas?

North Texas isn’t getting into the Big 12. The attendance, endowment, general fan support, and quality of the revenue producing Athletic Department is not up to the standard the conference wants.

If it were possible, the influx of cash into Denton coffers would be welcome, and go a long way toward helping produce a winner. No one wants a charity case, however and the Big 12 (ten) wants contributors toward the bottom line. Everyone likes more money. That should take care of the naive, the dreamers, and the unpractical among you.

Based on reasonable amateur assessments of the situation, the best we can determine is some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, and/or UConn + maybe one more – who knows?

The fallout is where North Texas is affected. The last time we did this dance, North Texas was able to level up from the Sun Belt to CUSA, bag a few years of solid revenue, and enjoy life for a bit. With the new stadium, a decent football coach, and relatively good basketball history in the short term, things were looking up.

Then we had the twin horrors of a terrible basketball team and the worst football loss in FBS history. Now? The stadium is still one of the nicest you’ll find but that isn’t enough to give ol’ NT a heads-up in the competition. Intrepid UNT Beat writer Brett Vito detailed the arms race recently. No doubt you already read that.

If the AAC were to be poached, the likelihood of a Rice, or WKU moving over instead of NT is higher thanks to our friends 1 at SMU. Even if they fought for our inclusion, UNT doesn’t bring in a market not already covered. That’s a no-go.

The good news is that we already have a series with SMU, so we don’t need to be in a conference with them to maintain something like a rivalry. Otherwise we’d be hoping and praying like NMSU, who desperately hope to join UTEP or UNM somewhere.

WKU, proud basketball team and old FCS powerhouse, is happy with their situation … but would like to improve the bottom half of the conference.

WKU AD Todd Stewart in June:

“We’re thrilled to be in Conference USA. I think it’s a great league for us,” Stewart said about those prospects. “I think we’re with like-minded schools much more so than when we were in the Sun Belt. To be aligned with Charlotte and Old Dominion and Marshall and Middle Tennessee and UAB and Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss – those are schools very similar to us that I think our fans identify with and relate to. I think it’s a strong conference overall. If that bottom half can just improve, then I think there’s great days ahead.”

However great they feel about Charlotte, ODU, and Marshall, the bigger checks from the AAC trump any friendship or ‘fit’. If you don’t believe me you must not have been paying attention for the last 30 years.

It seems the best that UNT can hope for is the fit that WKU appreciates with its current setup. Maybe a Texas State or Arkansas State?

The Red Wolves are a former Sun Belt foe who have managed to put together winning teams despite being poached for their head coach every year. Texas State is more UTSA’s rival 2 but would be a solid replacement for UTSA if they were to be called up by the American in the conference’s quest for market dominance 3.

Either would reduce the travel burden somewhat, and are more in line with the type of program North Texas has at the moment. Is it perfect? Nope. Is it reality? Yep.

There is always the looming possibility of a mega conference that is essentially ‘The Rest’. Also the possibility of a top level split that puts North Texas back into a de facto second division, with only the hope of some kind of promotion/relegation system at best. Right now, this isn’t even being discussed publicly so this is the last we’ll mention it.

With that, enjoy what is left off your weekend. The Night Of is great. Watch that.

  1. enemies. 
  2. Like, actual rival. Like they really don’t like each other. 
  3. It should be noted that SA is the 36th TV market so there’s not much there to be dominant over. 

Home Field Advantage

North Texas Football has gone 16-7 over the three years McCarney has coached at Apogee. This is no unimpressive feat considering the era: Post Todd Dodge, the worst coach in North Texas history. In 2013, the Mean Green nearly went undefeated at home, barely losing (on the scoreboard, not in game control) to UTSA in the final – cold-as-hell – game. This season the team went 4-2, only losing to Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech, albeit in disgusting blowout fashion in both cases.

There is something to be said for taking care of business in your house. It helps to make a case for fandom to the Casual Fan.1

Home Record in Apogee:

  • 2011: 4-2. Wins: Indiana, FAU, ULM, Troy. Losses: Houston (opener), WKU
  • 2012: 3-2. Wins: Texas Southern (FCS), ULL, South Alabama Losses: Troy, ArkSt
  • 2013: 5-1. Wins: Idaho, Ball State, MTSU, Rice, UTEP, Losses: UTSA
  • 2014: 4-2. Wins: SMU, Nicholls State (FCS), FAU, FIU Losses: La Tech, Southern Miss

Record at home: 16-7. Record against FBS at home: 14-7.

Next year we likely will play five at home. I’m ambivalent about this considering there was an unofficial promise to never play less than six at home once we got the shiny new stadium, and the fact that about 200 people showed up for the finale. It is difficult to cry about the number of home games when the Metroplex doesn’t show up for them. Might as well take the cash from an SEC school or something.

That said, without buying a game from the likes of Texas Southern or Nicholls these last couple of years, we wouldn’t have had at least two wins. I’d love to see more home-and-homes with the Houstons and Indianas of the world. The new College Football Playoff puts a CUSA school in an ideal payday situation. FCS games don’t win you many CFP points, apparently. Surely a lower-tier Big 5 squad would swing though DFW to boost their schedule?

This is the difficult part about being in a desirable area. Thanks to the Death Star, other colleges have a place to show their wares to the highly-ranked high school football recruits here. They don’t need to swing through Denton.

I mention all this in an effort to say that I appreciate the difficulty presented to Athletic Director Rick Villarreal. I still don’t like having only one game on schedule. Here’s hoping we use some of the money Iowa and Tennessee are paying to squeeze in a last-minute FCS squad. Every one loves blowouts you know.

Post Script:

The dirty secret is that UNT has been absolutely atrocious on the road. Dan McCarney says that’s because we play good teams (meaning money games). To that I’d respond with UTEP, Rice, and UAB this year, along with Tulane & Ohio last year. Not exactly your college football glory programs. This poor record on the road is partly the reason UNT is a six-point underdog to an absolutely awful UTSA team on Saturday.

  1. The ever-elusive, the much sought-after, the one who barely knows sports anyway but whose dollars are coveted. 
Basketball Basketball Recaps

Rout! UNT 74 – Ark St 50

This has been a nightmare. Injuries, underwhelming performances, questionable coaching, and bad luck have conspired to produce a terrible 7-14 season in the Sun Belt that UNT was tabbed to win outright. There were some rumblings about squeezing into a 10-seed if we we got lucky. Sometime early on SBNation wrote us off. There was no reason to believe that this team could achieve anything on that wishlist. From then until now fans have been eyeing their phones and hoping for a run to get them back in the stadium.

I don’t blame them. Life is full of distractions. Seeing terrible basketball isn’t the greatest use of one’s time, no matter how die-hard they are. If they are any kind of person that UNT hopes to mold them into, they have jobs, families, hobbies, and the like to fill the schedule. You shouldn’t blame them either. The fans have been keeping up. They know what’s what. They know that the regular season for a Sun Belt team that doesn’t WOW in non-conference won’t be given any kind of credit. The road to national notoriety is via the Sun Belt tournament. I’ve said before in this space that the SBC title game is our rightful place. Johnny Jones figured out a formula that put us there two years in a row, and multiple times over his career. For all the criticism that Tony Benford has gotten by me and all the NT faithful, he will do a lot by getting back to the promised land’s doorstep. That is to say, I will become a Benford Believer if he can navigate this SBC Tournament and lead this unlucky team into the NCAAs.

The greatest thing about college basketball is the unquestionable Americanness of it. With a little hard luck and some good fortune smiling on you anyone can climb to the mountain top. Last year Jacob Holmen cought fire, Brandon Walton hit some clutch threes and we made our way to the title game after an up-and-down rebuilding year. Jordan Williams has discovered his three-point stroke these last few weeks, Chris Jones is back and shook off some rust v ArkSt, and god knows we’ve been waiting for Clarke Overlander to shake off the first-year jitters.

The point is that there is reason to be hopeful. The lack of depth may mean the run may end early in a heartbreaking game where everyone misses seemingly easy shots. Sure. That has been the worry this since Jake Holman and Justin Patton retired. The good news is we have renewed confidence. We’ve found a winning formula (that may rely on the other squad relaxing but whatevs) and have found a spark in CJ’s return. Hell, the boost that comes from actually having something to play for may be enough to carry us through.


Sure was good to get over on Arky State. They whooped us in football and the last meeting in Jonesboro didn’t go well. Tony Benford was accused of being lame and unprofessional and we lost.


Chris Jones looks way more comfortable even now coming back from that injury vs the beginning this season. I wonder if sitting for a couple of months watching everyone else play built up that old love of the game. Miracles happen when you play while having fun. The pressure is off when you already won by getting to play.


I won’t be in Hot Springs this season after all. Instead I’ll be in Richmond, VA. I will be watching the games however. I will also try to swing some podcasts to talk about them. (Ad coming) For more podcasty goodness I encourage you to visit where you can find Deranged Pengwin, Mean Green Nation, and Dapper Dialogue, a tech podcast with my buddy @brandonjermaine (end Ad).


I know it was Senior Night. I don’t want to say good bye to Roger and Niko just yet though. Let’s wait until we are done with Hot Springs. Again, I do want to acknowledge Jacob Holmen and Justin Patton, however. Thanks for the basketball, guys.

MGN Podcast

13: Post ArkSt Loss

In this week’s episode:

Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation! This week Adam and Tony talk about the homecoming loss to ASU, basketball, and soccer in the final.

Click here for the podcast feed. That should get you everything you need. You can play the episode from there or subscribe via your favorite podcast catcher.

We are in the iTunes store! The Mean Green Nation Podcast will be up every week!.

you can contact the podcast at !

Click the following for a smartphone friendly link:

MGN13 download link

Things we discussed, or will discuss:


NT 12 ArkSt 30 Halftime

I’ve spent a lot of time this week trolling ArkSt fans on twitter. I’ve found that they aren’t very good at putting sentences together but they do have a good football team. So that means we are treated to terrible smack talk and a bad scoreline.

If you’ve seen any North Texas football this season you saw the same game plan we’ve seen all year. I maintain this isn’t a bad thing. Getting burned on play-action is, however, very bad.

North Texas has managed only 178 yards to ASU’s 355 yards. More importantly NT has been kicking field goals and the Red Wolves have been scoring touchdowns. The game can be so simple and yet so difficult.

Those big plays that MTSU found are here again for ASU to play with. John Skladany has a problem that he has yet to fix. IT is tough with so many young players. After a week and a first half, there isn’t much hope that he’ll find a way to get the guys to not bite on play fakes and not get beat over the top.

Offensively, Derek Thompson got up limping. Brent Osborn stepped in and played conservatively. I don’t expect much magic from him in the second half. The run game, thus far bottled up, has had spurts. Turnovers and dropped passes have been the real problems.

It’s Rally Time.

Football Sunbelt Stuff

Bowling Chances 2012

After conference opponent Louisiana-Lafayette 30-23 on Tuesday the 16th, there have been rumblings about bowl-eligibilty. Of course, if you have been reading MGN, you know the deal.

North Texas’ record is at 3-4 (2-1). There are five games remaining — all Sun Belt matchups. Here are the standings:

  1. ULM 3-0, 5-2
  2. WKU 2-1, 5-2
  3. UNT 2-1, 3-4
  4. ULL 2-1, 4-2
  5. ArkSt 2-1, 4-3
  6. MTSU 2-1, 4-3
  7. Troy 3-2, 4-3
  8. USA 1-2, 2-5
  9. FAU 0-4, 1-6
  10. FIU 0-4, 1-7

Our schedule is this:

at MTSU 10/27 2:30pm ESPN3
vs ArkSt 11/3 4:00pm
vs USA 11/10 4:00pm
at ULM 11/17 TBD
at WKU 11/24 Noon ESPN3

The road to conference supremacy is laid out before us: win all the games. It won’t be easy but they let you play them one at-a-time. These first two against MTSU and ArkSt seperate UNT from that middle pack. The USA game will be a test of focus. The final two will be de facto playoff games.

The Belt is very winnable. This offense is built for upsets. Our 44th-ranked rushing offense can control the ball, Antoinne Jimmerson, Brelan Chancellor and Jeremy Brown can score from anywhere on the field. The defense has shut down some really good offenses.

The biggest concerns are those that we have every week: Will the opponent shut down the run game like FAU did? Will Derek Thompson have a sub-50% passing game like vs Troy? Will the defense lay an egg like they did vs Houston? Will Zach Olen have another nightmare game (Troy)?

The good news: We haven’t had huge swings in performance. Derek Thompson and the passing game picked up the load when the run game was getting stuffed in Boca. Against Houston, the offense put up 489 yards and 21 points. UNT was within ten twice. In a normal game, this should be near enough to win. Against, ULL the defense shut down the 19th ranked rush offense five straight times in the third and fourth quarters. The offense scored three touchdowns and a field goal.

This is the ideal scenario. Dan McCarney wants 31 points a game from the offense. When the pass game is clicking (not just screens and dump offs on 3rd and 8) this thing can easily score that many.

Too long; didn’t read:

We have a shot to win the conference. Middle Tennesee is better than the team we destroyed to end last year and will be looking for revenge at home.

Arkansas State has underperformed compared to last season and they hype surrounding Gus Malzahn. They are well-coached and dangerous.

South Alabama is terrible. They should not be taken lightly, however.

ULM can score in bunches and quickly. I expect this team to be on par with Houston. They run similar offenses and have good coaches that like to take calculated chances. Our defense will have their hands full. Our offense will have to score a lot and control the clock. This will be crazy tough.

WKU is good. They lost in OT to ULM after Kolton Browning threw the two-point conversion to win it. They were the class of the conference coming into the year, and haven’t showed any signs of slowing.

Sunbelt Stuff

Of Red Wolves and Razorbacks

Go read this post by ASU alum (I’m fairly sure) and Arkansas resident Angry Czeck. The guy is hilarious usually. This post is just interesting though.

// Angry Czeck

ASU fans were accustomed to the blind eye given to the Red Wolves by state media. The lone statewide newspaper, The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, notoriously buried ASU news. When Malzahn was hired, the paper’s lead story was not “What an Amazing Hire for ASU” but “How is ASU Going to Pay for Malzahn?”

The media’s unvarnished, shameless favoritism for one school was so unconcealed it was nearly a parody of itself. For example, Little Rock based KARK Channel 4 centered its entire sports segment exclusively to the Razorbacks. NO COVERAGE FOR ANY SCHOOL BUT ONE! KATV Channel 7 wasn’t much better, bearing an online tagline of “Breaking news, weather, and Razorback sports.” Bear in mind that Little Rock is home to UALR and is within a stone’s throw of the University of Central Arkansas. But only the Razorbacks are worthy of coverage.

This blatant favoritism made it difficult enough to be a Red Wolves fan. Dyer’s failure to stick with ASU shook the faith of the faithful. Perhaps the Razorback monopoly was right; the Red Wolves would never compete with its favored brother.

Sunbelt Stuff

Sun Belt Week Five 2012

Well I’m not feeling any better about the prospects of winning the conference. That isn’t because the win over FAU was bad. It is because the rest of the Belt looked so good this week. Let’s take a tour shall we?

MTSU 49 v Ga Tech 28

Ah this was probably the headline of the week. Somehow, someway the Blue Raiders went over to the deep south and whooped up on a former ACC champ and looked good doing it. The running game is looking beastly, as Benny Cunningham ran for 217 yards and five scores. That is right, ya’ll. The guy with the crazy rushing stats plays for MT and not GT. I made fun of them earlier this season, but it looks like they have a nice little squad now. Formidable foe?

Troy 31 v South Alabama 10

Oh those Jags. They just aren’t having a good year. Even after picking off Corey Robinson three times, they couldn’t get out of their own way. They simply cannot pass the ball. We play them Nov 10th. Can’t wait. Should be a defensive feast before Thanksgiving.

Louisiana Monroe 63 v Tulane 10

So when did ULM go out and get an explosive offense? They don’t just look scrappy anymore. They were in a shootout with Baylor before WVU made it cool. Kolton Browning threw for 253 yards and three scores and DaVontae McNeal added 114 yards and one score on the ground. Most impressive was the defense . . . if you think stopping Tulane is impressive. They are last in the nation in scoring offense, total offense, and rushing offense. They rank 108th in passing offense. So that’s nice.

ULM is top 20 in passing, total offense and scoring offense (322, 519, 42) by the way. I’m a little scared. Our defense stood up to K-State and Troy but if this ULM team puts us in a shoot out? Well I don’t thin we have enough bullets.

Florida International 20 v Louisiana Lafayette 48

How the mighty have fallen. Seems without TY Hilton in their fold they can’t beat the likes of lowly ULL. No seriously, FIU can move the ball some — nothing amazing but they are moving it — but only scores about 26ppg. That’d be a winning formula if they had any kind of defense. They allowed ULL 501 yards including 187 on the ground. ULL is looking decent and is 2-0 in the conference and 3-1 overall. FIU is 0-1, 1-4. I think the conference power has re-focused in Louisiana and left Florida behind.

Western Kentucky 26 vs Arkansas State 13

Hey now. Remember how we all thought ASU was going to continue their run Hugh Freeze had them on? Well it hasn’t quite happened just yet. Western Kentucky is the class of the conference (at least until we see them against ULM) and battled back to beat ASU on the road after being down 13. Something tells me Malzahn doesn’t have the same kind of magic without guys like Cam Newton and Darren McFadden . . .

I don’t know how WKU is winning these games. I haven’t been watching closely but they look like they are the kind of team that wins ugly. They are the most dangerous kind of squad because when they do when they do it while making you think you could have done better. Which leaves you feeling regret. Call their style the Bane method.

Next Week’s Matchups:

  • Arkansas St visits FIU on Thursday Night (10.4.12) on ESPNU
  • ULM travels to MTSU –ESPN3
  • Tulane will get beat at ULL –ESPN3
  • We take on Houston in Houston!! (NO TV!?)

Conference Standings:

  1. ULL 2-0, 3-1
  2. WKU 1-0, 4-1
  3. MTSU 1-0, 3-1
  4. Troy 2-1, 3-2
  5. North Texas 1-1, 2-3
  6. ULM 0-0, 2-2
  7. ASU 0-1, 2-3
  8. FIU 0-1, 1-4
  9. USA 0-1, 1-4
  10. FAU 0-2, 1-4


Sunbelt Stuff

Sun Belt Week Four 2012

In this, the last year of the Sun Belt (thank god) we have a chance to win the thing despite what the negative types are saying. Let us take a look around at what happened:

ULM 42 v Baylor 47

You might know this game as the only compelling Sun Belt matchup to outsiders, well ever. The bastards from Monroe have  become America’s darling after their “upset” of that self-destructing Arkansas team and subsequent close defeats at Auburn and home to Baylor. They have spunk and can score. They are 1-2 entering conference play . . . just like we were coming into this weekend. If you want to crown their ass then crown them.

Florida Atlantic (next opponent!) 7 vs Alabama 40

Ah FAU. They are terrible but they did end Alabama’s shutout streak. So I guess there’ll be a parade in Boca. That is, if they can be pried away from shuffleboard (rimshot!). I’ll be here all week, folks. Seriously, that is a bad squad that should be taken apart by this Mean Green running game.

Western Kentucky 42 vs Southern Miss 17

Eek. That is looking like a monster team there. Southern Miss isn’t as great as they used to be but they are CUSA so they presumably have some kind of advantage. Supposedly Kentucky did too but the Hilltoppers took care of them the week before. Our matchup with them is the last game of the year, so hopefully they slow down some.

South Alabama 10 Miss St 30

The Jags are bad. Losing to #23 Miss St isn’t shameful, but barely squeaking a win out over Nicholls is. So is losing to UTSA at home. It is going to be a long season for them. We play them Nov 10th.

Arkansas State 56 vs Alcorn St 0

Warm up game. This is the kind of beating that UNT should have put on Tx Southern but whatevs. After having lost to Oregon and Nebraska pretty badly, and looking good against Memphis, the thinking is that this warm up game is good preparation for the big SBC matchup with WKU this coming week. Or is it bad preparation?

Florida International 21 vs Louisville 28

Oh FIU. You showed such promise and were filled with such potential. They, not ULM, were supposed to be the attention grabbing squad. Still, hanging with #20 is also a nice moral victory. I wonder how it stacks up to our two.

MTSU, ULL – bye

Next Week’s Matchups:

  • Middle Tenneseee away to Georgia Tech. – ESPN3
  • Troy visits South Alabama – ESPN3
  • ULM away to Tulane
  • UNT visits FAU –ESPN3!
  • FIU goes to ULL ESPN3
  • WKU visits on ASU ESPN3

Standings after week four

Conference Overall
School W L W L W-L%
Louisiana-Lafayette 1 0 2 1 .667
Middle Tennessee State 1 0 2 1 .667
Troy 1 1 2 2 .500
Florida Atlantic 0 1 1 3 .250
North Texas 0 1 1 3 .250
Western Kentucky 0 0 3 1 .750
Arkansas State 0 0 2 2 .500
Louisiana-Monroe 0 0 1 2 .333
Florida International 0 0 1 3 .250
South Alabama 0 0 1 3 .250
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/24/2012.

2012 North Texas Football Schedule

SEPT. 1 at LSU
SEPT. 8 Texas Southern
SEPT. 15 at Kansas State
SEPT. 22 Troy
SEPT. 29 at Florida Atlantic
OCT. 6 at Houston
OCT. 16 La.-Lafayette
OCT. 27 at Middle Tennessee
NOV. 3 Arkansas State
NOV. 10 South Alabama
NOV. 17 at Louisiana-Monroe
NOV. 24 at W. Kentucky

The above is a stark reminder of our standing in college football. The Sun Belt, however better than the WAC, is still an afterthought. This program, being part of said afterthought, is forced to play only five homegames. That’s right.


(Just like in 2008 and a couple of times before that, too)

The reality is that we need ca$h, yo. That is where that LSU game comes in. The Houston and Kansas trips are make-goods on deals we had for the 2011 and 2010 seasons, respectively.

The good news is that the Apogee opener should be a thrashing of SWAC-member Texas Southern. Hopefully we will be able to erase the memory of the previous week’s beating that will undoubtedly be inflicted on us by the Tigers.

Then the real challenge begins. Kansas State should be some kind of formidable but within striking distance of an upset. Bill Snyder’s squad doesn’t have loads of talent, despite the wins they put up. Remember last season they eeked out wins against Eastern Kentucky and Kent State to being the season. The most threatening part of that program is Snyder’s ability to coach. They play hard and play smart but they are the most vulnerable of the bigger non-cons on our schedule. Also, last time we played them it was an awesome game.

The Troy, Florida Atlantic, Houston part of our schedule is key. Everyone knows we’ll get murdered in Louisiana, obliterate Texas Southern, and have an inkling of a chance against K-State.

Conference games are huge. Winning the damn Sun Belt isn’t as difficult as Todd Dodge made it seem. A halfway decent coach with some motivated talent can make a solid run. It happens every year. It probably should have happened with us and Lance Dunbar. The non-conference games are to win outside fans, the SBC games are to win the conference . . . and possibly get to a bowl game.

This is a perfect year to do just that. As good as Gus Malazhn will make Arkansas State, this is his most vulnerable season. He had a great class of guys, but he still needs to teach the season while navigating the uncertainties of being the head guy. We know he can call plays on offense but can he run a program?

We have a shot to get him while they are coping with growing pains. They are coming off a perfect SBC schedule, and a bowl appearance (lost to NIU). Maybe they think they are bad asses that don’t have to work very hard to win this league? Maybe? We just need a timely L or two from those guys and this thing will be wide open.

We finished 4-4 in a very transitional year. We have a quarterback and an identity, now. Losing Lance Dunbar is huge . . . but how much did we really have him last year? He was hurt or bottled up for a good portion of the campaign. Now, there is no pressure to feed him the ball. Mike Canales can whip up some cleverness and we should be solid.

Maybe that is just the spring talking. Optimism is filling me right now, guys. Am I crazy?


Other interesting news? We have Tuesday night game against ULL on one of the ESPNs.

Go Mean Green.