Categories
Football

Greg’s Hot Sports Opinions (HSO’s) on Wednesday

As North Texas moves away from fall camp into season mode it looks more and more certain that Dan McCarney will hitch his wagon to Andrew McNulty. It makes sense from a coaching perspective, because McNulty is a senior and a leader for the Mean Green. McNulty gives Coach Mac that warm fuzzy and secure feeling when he goes to bed at night. McNulty does not give the fan base that same feeling. Some are willing to see if McNulty has indeed made a Derek Thompson like improvement. Others are dreading the sight of McNulty and his limited talents. Me well I’m kind of in between.

It’s really hard for me to believe that McNulty can make a DT like improvement. What I think North Texas is banking on and what I’m banking on too is the weapons around McNulty. Last year North Texas had a very weak pool of playmakers surround the QB. This year they should end up having the best set of playmakers on offense that North Texas has ever had since McCarney first stepped on campus. McNulty better be able to get these guys the ball in a manner that allows them to make plays. His decision making better be greatly improved from last year. We are led to believe that he knows the playbook and can make quick decisions. Well he better be able to do it with the bullets flying at him come Sept 12th.

Coaches are fired and given extensions based on their ability to hitch their wagon to the right QB. Mack Brown at UT made a killing off guys like Major Applewhite, Vince Young, and Colt McCoy. But when he started missing he was eventually shown the door. McCarney hasn’t even come close to landing a solid starting QB since he has been at North Texas. Here is a list of QBs he has landed in the recruiting process since 2011:

2011

Andrew McNulty

Brent Osborn

Cooper Jones

2012

Brock Berglund

2013

Dajon Williams

2014

Josh Greer

Connor Means

Sam Wells

2015

DaMarcus Smith

Thats the kind of recruitng haul that will get a coach fired.

McCarney was able to keep his job off the hot seat with a 9-4 season in 2013. He got average to above average play from a guy who was already on campus when he got here in Derek Thomspon. Now McCarney’s seat is heating up a bit, and he is about to ride with a guy who was not recruited by one other school to play the QB position. I’m not sure how that could give you a warm fuzzy feeling as a coach. Mac must be feeling extremely good about the running game and receivers. Mac must believe that their play will elevate McNulty’s play to a point where his limited talents are a non-issue. It’s a huge gamble to make, but when you’ve absolutely missed the target on all your other QB recruits it’s a gamble I guess you have to make.


One of the bright spots at UNT right now is the good things that UNT President Smatresk keeps doing. Recently he was interviewed by the Denton Record Chronicle and had some interesting things to say about where he hopes UNT will be in terms of athletics.

“If we’re going to compete as a Tier One institution, our athletics teams need to compete as a Tier One institution as well,” Smatresk said. “So we need to expect to fund athletics in a way that’s consistent with success, and we need that success in turn to yield revenue streams that can support and sustain.

“We need teams that get national attention, because like it or not, one of the biggest ways schools get recognized is the quality of their teams – primarily football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. I’m not saying the other sports aren’t important, but those core sports are what advance your brand … That’s going to have to be another piece of how we get to Tier One, getting recognized however we can at a national level.”

UNT President Neal Smatresk

DRC Bret Vito & Jenna Duncan

As a fan that is great to hear. Finally someone in the top brass who is willing to take athletics seriously. North Texas is in desperate need of someone to raise the standards bar for athletics. North Texas is in desperate need of progressive thinkers when it comes to athletics. President Smatresk looks to be the type of guy who is willing to do that. Now it’s uncertain whether the Board of Regents is willing to listen to him when it comes to athletics, but if he does enough great things in other areas he may just gain more trust from them.

We need Smatresk to shake things up a bit when it comes to athletics. The main sports where Smatresk wants to see national recognition football, men’s basketball, and women’s basketball all have been subpar in recent years. I’d love to see men’s basketball get back to 20 wins and tourney appearances. Under the current men’s basketball staff that looks to be impossible. You can’t turn your roster over every year like Coach Benford has, and expect to win. That is not how you build a winning program. President Smatresk came from UNLV where they know how to play basketball. He was probably shocked by what he saw from the basketball programs here. I think the women’s basketball program made a great with Jalie Mitchell. I hope she can get things turned around.

If you’re reading this President Smatresk, and are in need of an athletic adviser I’m available and would love to sit down and chat with you on my thoughts about UNT athletics.


My updated NT Football Depth Chart

OFFENSE

QB

  1. Andrew McNulty
  2. Josh Greer

RB

  1. Jeffery Wilson
  2. Antoinne Jimmerson

WR

  1. Carlos Harris
  2. O’Keeron Rutherford

WR

  1. Darvin Kidsy
  2. Tee Goree

WR

  1. Turner Smiley
  2. Thaddeous Thompson

LT

  1. Michael Banogu
  2. Ryan Rentfro

LG

  1. Sam Rice
  2. Harrison Sorge

C

  1. Kaydon Kriby
  2. Creighton Barr

RG

  1. Micah Thompson
  2. Connor Trussell

RT

  1. Chris Miles
  2. Garrett Gunter

DEFENSE

DE

  1. Jarrian Roberts
  2. Chad Polk

DE

  1. Malik Dilonga
  2. Jareid Combs

DT

  1. Mustafa Haboul
  2. J Tauaalo

DT

  1. Austin Orr
  2. Roderick Young

OLB

  1. Sed Ellis
  2. Calvin Minor

MLB

  1. Blake Bean
  2. Anthony Wallace

OLB

  1. Cortney Finney
  2. Fred Scott

CB

  1. Kenny Buyers
  2. Nate Brooks

CB

  1. Jamal Marshall
  2. Chad Davis

FS

  1. Kishawn McClain
  2. Matthew Dash

SS

  1. James Gray
  2. Jaki Moore

SPECIAL TEAMS

K

  1. Trevor Moore

P

  1. Eric Keena
  2. Blake Macek

PR

  1. Darvin Kidsy
  2. Tre Johnson

KR

  1. Tre Johnson
  2. Darvin Kidsy

The Baylor situation is just messy. I’m not sure who to believe Art Briles or Chris Peterson. On one hand I trust Peterson more because he builds his program on strong character players. On the other hand you have the transfer request form that Baylor released. If this happened at North Texas would you want Dan McCarney fired? Or would you want the President of the University fired? Someone has to be held accountable for this situation. I just get the feeling that no one will be held accountable at Baylor.

Also I’m pretty sick of Baylor fans thinking this is an attack on them because they are actually good. No this is an attack on your university because of how they handled this situation. Plus you’ve had 2 players charged with rape in recent times. Get over yourselves, there are bigger things to worry about. And Texas fans don’t act like your university is clean and you can bash Baylor. Y’all have had your issues too. Granted Charlie Strong does it right and more coaches should act like him.


I’m really excited to hear UNT alum Dave Barnett on the radio this fall. I remember plenty of his play by play calls back in the day. Barnett does it right and North Texas is lucky to have him. Check out this great piece on him:

MG Sports


I’m interested in doing a college football fantasy league. I’ve heard a lot about them and they could be a lot more fun than an NFL one. There are just so many choices for players our there. You dont have to pick guys from the big boys either. You could draft the QB from WKU Brandon Doughty. Or you be like Adam and draft McNulty who he thinks is going to break school records vs SMU.

If you guys are interested let us know!


Finally my prayers are with the families and friends of slain journalists Alison Parker, and Adam Ward. Its really a tragic ending to what seemed like two wonderful people.

It does spark the gun control debate again. My thoughts are that people who want to cause harm to others will do so no matter what the means. They will find guns or other weapons no matter how much control you think you have over them.

It’s just really sad that the video of the shooting made it to social media. Social media is a great tool most of the time, but its days like this that you wish we didnt have it. I cant believe that were individuals out there who actually “Favorited” & re-tweeted the shooters video. What kind of sick individual does that? Shame on you.

Again my deepest sympathies to families of Alison Parker, and Adam Ward.

Categories
MGN Podcast

41: Optimism

Hello ladies and gents, listen as Adam, and Greg get together to talk about UNT football like only they do.

MGN Podcast is the Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation!

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 also in the iTunes store.

You can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com.

Important Links:

 Download link

Categories
Football

Inside the Numbers: North Texas Offense Must Improve Explosiveness

Last year North Texas averaged a whopping 4.9 yards per play. That would rank them around 101 out of 128 teams. It ranked them 11th in CUSA. It was painful to watch an offense that was limited in explosiveness. How many of y’all turn on the TV on a College Football Saturday afternoon and saw two teams playing with a wide open exciting offense? I know I did. Its all you see in now a days except at North Texas. For 2013 it was nice to see the Mean Green win games with big plays from the defense and special teams, but you cant always rely on those units for points. You need dynamic play makers making explosive plays on offense in todays college football game.

So Why must North Texas Improve Explosiveness?

The answer is simple:

From 2011-14 the G5 teams that have finished ranked in the final AP Poll have had an average of 6.6 YPP. The last 4 winners of CUSA have averaged 6.2 YPP

North Texas averaged 4.9 YPP in 2014.

If North Texas wants to be a major player in CUSA and eventually in CFB they have to find a way to increase their offensive explosiveness dramatically.

WHY YARDS PER PLAY IS IMPORTANT

BC Artricle

Bill Connelly from SB Nation published an article awhile back exploring the most important stats when it comes to determining winning football games. What makes YPP important is it helps determine the explosiveness of a team. Acording to Connelly teams that win the explosiveness battle (Yards per Play & Points per Play) win 86% of the time. You can see Connelly’s chart above on how YPP relates to win% and the winning margin.

YPP IN CUSA/SUN BELT 2011-2014 (McCarney Years)

2011 YPP

2012 YPP

2013 YPP

2014 YPP

 

The Mean Green have never been known for an explosive offense under Coach Mac. They were above average in YPP 2 out of McCarney’s 4 years (2012 & 2013) here at NT. The other 2 years were examples of lack of FBS level play makers and an offense designed to ground and pound rather than fly.

Being tops in YPP  is nice, but it doesnt always translate to a winning record.

 

DEFENSIVE YPP IS IMPORTANT TOO

YPP Margin

 

Limiting explosive plays is important too. The only time that North Texas has had a positive ratio in this category was 2013. That would be the only time NT has had a winning record under Dan McCarney.

IMPROVEMENT NEEDED

YPP Improvement

I don’t think North Texas can hit that 6.2 or 6.6 YPP this year, but the improvements listed above would be enough to get NT to a winning record. As you can see the offense has a ways to go. I think they need to get some where around the 5.8 YPP range. The defense doesnt have that far to go if the offense can raise their level. If the offense cant improve to that 5.8 YPP level and they only reach around 5.6 YPP or 5.5 YPP thats fine, but the defense would have to be on a 2013 level.

In 2013 during just conference games the offense averaged 5.7 YPP and the defense only gave up 4.2 YPP! Compare that to Mr. Connelly’s chart and NT should’ve been winning games +17.5 points. Well, in conference play they were winning by 18.6 ppg so pretty close. Last year in conference play NT was at 4.7 YPP on offense and 5.6 YPP on defense. Offensively thats just pathetic. Changes need to be made to the offensive scheme and more play makers must step up in order for the 2015 Mean Green football team to have a winning season.

 

 

WHO WILL PROVIDE THE EXPLOSIVE PLAYS?

Explosive

 

 

I’m putting a lot of stock into what the coaches are selling on J. Wilson. He looks the part on the field and he could be the RB who is game changer this year. Carlos Harris was one of few offensive play makers last year. Harris is explosive with the ball in his hands and a beast of a competitor. The reason Wilson gets the nod over Harris at my top spot is because I believe Wilson’s ceiling is much higher than Harris. Willy Ivery may shock some of you that he is so high, but he should be a big part of next years offense. His ability in both the running and passing game make him a legitimate threat. Turner Smiley is a guy who gets over looked, but he just seems to have a knack for making a big play. Jimmerson seems like he has been forgotten with all the buzz about Wilson and Ivery. You cant forget that  Jimmerson is a guy who has 22 TDs and 1900+ total yards in his career. He is very capable of making explosive plays.

Neither one of the QB’s Andrew McNulty or DaMarcus Smith will be an explosive play maker on this year’s Mean Green team. They dont have to be for North Texas to go bowling. I believe that there are enough explosive play makers on this team for the QB to just be a distributor. If designed correctly this year’s offense should focus on the QB position making quick decisions and getting the ball out his hands and in the hands of play makers. So many good college spread QBs are just distributors. It would do wonders for the NT offense if their QB could just be a good distributor instead of having to be a play maker.

 

BONUS

DMN Rick Gosselin published an article recently about North Texas following the Boise St model to transform into a powerhouse program. Gosselin didnt really lay out the blue print of how the Mean Green could make that monumental climb. I wanted to do further research to see what the Boise model entailed. One of the things that was included in the model and related to explosiveness was “Getting Noticed.” Getting noticed meant putting points on the board and being exciting. If NT ever wants to jump out of obscurity they better start taking offense seriously. Defense is great and its equally important to win games, but offense sell tickets, wins recruits, and gets you noticed nationally.

Boise Numbers

 

 

Improve to Boise

 

North Texas has a long way to go to reach an offense that is capable of being noticed on a national level. I will say that I do think NT is capable of reaching Boise St type of stats. Its going to take Coach Mac seeing the light and opening the offense up.  I know its hard for a defensive minded guy like McCarney to take the reigns off his offense, but in order to awaken the sleeping giant he better do it. Coach Mac isnt a dummy he has seen the benefits of other defensive minded coaches allowing their offenses to be wide open. You can still have a good defense will a spread up tempo wide open offense. I believe this is the year we as fans start to see a difference in the offense. There are more explosive players at the skill positions and the QB position should be better.

 

Categories
Football

New Uniforms (And A New Shade of Helmet)

The program revealed the newest uniforms for the upcoming season in probably the most modern fashion it could muster. The video had relatively high production values. It looked made in-house and at the very least, just not at the same level as Oregon gets. Must be nice to have an apparel mogul as a benefactor. That said, here is the uniform:

Is that yet another shade of green?

The Derek Thompson-era unis had a weird bluish shade in pictures that didn’t look so bad on the field.

Well, Associate AD @Eric_Capper tweeted out a couple of pictures that show how many different shades we’ve had in these last couple seasons.

Helmet Comparison
An assortment of green

We are the Mean Green and that means all the greens. I’m fine with it. The uniform looks a bit Marshall-like. Here is a comparison:

Uniform comparison
Marshall on the Left. MG on the right

Again, we’ll have to wait for the opener to see what they look like in action. For what it is worth, here is MGN on the first Mac-era change in 2011. Here are some player/former player reactions, courtesy of Colorado Eagle on GMG.com. They don’t think they are super awesome.

GMG

Categories
Football

How does North Texas get back to a bowl?

The wait for college football is almost over. The dormant season for Mean Green Nation has ended. Let’s get this party started. Here are my 5 steps that will get North Texas back to a bowl game.

Step 1 Find a QB

It’s no secret how bad NT was at QB last year. It’s also well known that NT did little to bolster the position in the offseason. The young mid-season hero Dajon Williams had a pretty good spring, but has since departed the team. It always seemed that Williams’s style clashed with McCarney and Canales. Connor Means hasn’t taken the second year step that many were hoping. Josh Greer is still struggling with pocket awareness. This leaves NT with a two man battle going into the fall, Andrew McNulty vs DaMarcus Smith. Smith was hoping to come in and battle for the job throughout the spring. However, he wasn’t able to get eligible in time. McNulty took advantage of his absence and grabbed a strong lead in the position battle. In the coaches eyes this battle is McNulty’s too lose. In the fans eye its Smiths to win. Smith has the clear advantage in talent, but can he learn the play book and gel with the WR’s in time for the opening game against SMU? One thing that is working in his favor is the extra week. In my eyes I would love to see the starter be named at least 3 weeks before the opening game. No need to keep it a secret. Let’s the team get used to one guy and go from there. I think last year’s NT team suffered from the QB battle last long into fall camp. If either McNulty or Smith is able to raise the level of QB play significantly from last then NT has a shot to get back to 6 wins and bowl eligibility.

 

Step 2 Balance the Offense

58% of the time last year UNT ran the ball. On first down NT ran 65% of the time. The basis of the NT offense ever since McCarney has been here has been all about a power running attack. In 2013 the rushing attack was nicely balanced with the abilities of the WR’s on the outside who defenses had to respect. In 2014 there was Carlos Harris and no one else. Add that onto the issue at QB and you can start to see why teams were able to gang up and stop the run. This year there looks to be more potential weapons for the offense to be balanced. Getting that balance on offense will help get first downs and add explosiveness. Not to mention it will also take some pressure off the defense who will be learning a new system. Another area besides balance play calling is balanced touches and targets. Carlos Harris was targeted 40% of the time last year. That would’ve taken him into the tops amongst WRs in college football. NT needs other weapons who have potential to step up and be noticed on the field. Tee Goree, Turner Smiley, Darvin Kidsy are just a few WRs who need to step their game up. Marcus Smith really started to turn it on at the end of last year and had a good spring. Both Smith and Chris Loving at TE could make those 2 TE sets a little bit more dangerous to defend.

 

Step 3 Win that 1st conference game against Rice

North Texas has yet to win an opening conference game under Coach Mac. That needs to change this year. The first conference game is the home opener for NT, and it is the most important game on the schedule. Setting the tone the week before with a win against SMU would be great, but it’s not imperative. Losing the home opener and first conference game against Rice would be a devastating blow to this teams confidence.

 

Step 4 Keep the defense simple

It’s great to see a defense outsmart and confuse the opposing offense. That will be tough to do when your defense is learning a new system. NT has a new defensive coordinator in Chris Cosh. His goal should be to get his unit to play fast. If they are caught up thinking about what they need to do chances are the opposing team is breaking a big play. NT has a lot of athletes, but they are also replacing a few key COGs that were big parts of the defense last year. Replacing Lee, Akunne, & Jones won’t be easy. Keeping things simple and focusing on fundamentals will let the new starters make plays.

 

Step 5 Boost the Pass Rush

NT’s pass rush last year was not as dynamic as I thought it would be. The sack total dropped from 39 in 2013 to 33, but 10 of those sacks came against a cream puff Nicholls. This year NT has a schedule loaded with some really good passing teams. Best way to defend those teams is with a power pass rush. NT has a few guys who are talented pass rushers. Polk, Roberts, and Johnson all flashed passing rushing ability last year. This year NT is hoping those guys raise their game. NT also added JUCO DE pass rushing specialist Jareid Combs. Combs had 17 sacks in NJCAA last year.

 

Mean Green Nation Preseason Preview Series

I’m no expert, but I enjoy putting together a decent preview for the NT football season. This year I’ve listed out what to look forward to in our Preseason Preview.

Previewing the North Texas Offense

Previewing the North Texas Defense

Schedule Breakdown

Top 5 New Comers

North Texas Projected Depth Chart

North Texas Player Ratings (Madden Style)

CUSA Unit Rankings

CUSA Predictions

North Texas Stat Predictions

North Texas Bold Predictions

 

Categories
Basketball Football

Offseason Thoughts: February 2015

The offseason has been unkind. Our favorite football program has to replace the defensive coordinator, the QB(with like, nine other possibilities), and the recruiting battles that come with fending off hype at SMU and UTSA. It is hard, as Danny Mac might say. Yet it still has to be done. Well, it should be done if we want this program to be one of the greats. That desire is not shared throughout that which shall call the Stakeholders. Honestly, I’m not sure if it should or should not be shared. I can’t say with any certainty whether North Texas should aspire to become an Oregon or Boise. I don’t know if it should be a Chicago State, and give it all up for academic integrity.  Complexity is a poor description of the present state of college sports. It exists as a kind of guilty pleasure in an age of austerity — both fiscal and healthful 1.  It is hard to excuse and even harder to justify.

The reigning kings of football2 established themselves in a world scarcely resembling the one in which we live. They got their nicknames from beat reporters, local stereotypes, or coaches bringing them over from previous gigs. They’ve held on to their advantageous positions through shrewd political maneuvers, and first-mover advantages3. Pining to be counted among their number means grappling with state legislatures in some cases. Then you get into sticky public policy areas. On top of that you have the entire concussion discussion 4. You may have spent the last year or so questioning your love of the sport, college sports in general, and perhaps this society we’ve participated in creating. Count me among that lot.

When we think about how to improve the teams we support we often are presuming some sort of ideal scenario. That creates a problem. Discussion is muddled with seemingly competing answers to different, unrelated problems. Take, for example, the basketball team. Should we fire Tony Benford? This is answered differently with different assumptions. Do we want to be a respected, competitive, nationally recognized basketball program? Then yeah, we probably should make a change because he hasn’t been pushing this team toward that goal. Do we just want a coach on the cheap that can maybe make a conference push every four years? Then we shouldn’t fire him.  Can we fire Tony Benford and maintain the program? Can we hire a guy that will do a better job under the financial constraints brought on by coaching changes? This changes the meaning of ‘should’. Let’s not even start asking if we can make a coaching change.

Here is where you can make the argument that the athletic department’s cheapness up front (salary for a rookie Head Coach vs paying for an experienced guy) costs the program much more than they saved the last few years. The lost attempts at championships, — the lack of ‘delight’ with the UNT basketball program has been tremendous burden on the program 5. This is what the lay-fan refers to as ‘momentum’. It isn’t just a fan-speak term or a talking head word. It has tangible consequences. It is real.

While these things aren’t death sentences, they are the equivalent of a transmission going out for folks living paycheck to paycheck. North Texas can’t afford to make hiring mistakes … while hoping to be competitive. That’s an important distinction.

The problem with firing Dickey and hiring Dodge and letting Johnny Jones go and hiring Tony Benford wasn’t in actual decision to make a coaching  change — but having to undergo a complete overhaul in philosophy because of the change. Boise — the literal poster example for less prestigous sporting universities has had a few head guys in their run of good-to-great. There is Boise-way. They hired men who knew how to win at Boise.

How do you win at UNT? Well if you a ask Hayden Fry, Darrell Dickey, or Danny Mac, they’ll tell you you win with hard-nosed defense, a solid run game and tough SOBs 6. Those men are separated by decades. Any momentum from one winning regime was lost and had to be rebuilt from the ground up. That is no way to maintain a program –if you want success etc etc, see above. — This has been the discussion for awhile. It isn’t new — Basketball had a chance to continue the run begun by Johnny Jones. They could have hired from within and continued with the people who knew hwo to win at NT. Instead they chose a man who knew how to win at Marquette. I don’t have an issue with Benford’s upside at hire-time. My issue — and I think most of the loudest critics agree — has been what happens once he fails7.

Every hire carries some risk. It seeems that North Texas didn’t think too far ahead on this. They require the ability to accurately assess coaches that have little or no history — or a relatively unimpressive one8. So criticism of Rick villareal should settle on his hires. Kudos for having the temerity to swing for the Home Run (Dodge). Huzzah(?) for not hitting more singles. The above isn’t a sexy thing to say. Ten years ago I had very different opinions. I was also a dumb kid. Don’t listen to me from 10 years ago. Further criticsm should be on the Board of Regents. These folks hired him. They bungled money already. They are cool with the situation. Still more criticism is on the government officials who appoint the Board of Regents. And we elected those people. Ask yourself: what do you really want?

Addendum that couldn’t go anywhere above: Our Boogey Man to the south has good vibrations. Lets see what happens when they have a change at Athletic Director, Head Coach, and the Texas System is not as happy with UTSA’s success as they are now. North Texas problems are those of a mature university. Generations of cruft, people stuck in their ways, power struggles at mid-level positions. That isn’t to say they can’t or won’t sustain, just that it is a bit easier to build from scratch than turn around an existing program. I don’t begrudge them success, just wish it didn’t come at our expense. That is more on our program than theirs, though. UTSA reminds me of the Marvel Ultimate universe. It exploded in popularity when first released partly because it was free of the Marvel 616 continuity. Starting fresh with the best storylines, best character beats, and knowledge of what works and what didn’t envigorated the line. Then they killed it ten years later. Well, technically it is getting killed later this year but for all intents and purposes it was disposed of a few years ago once the 616 adopted all the cool ideas MUU begat. After ten years the weight of its own relatively brief history killed the momentum. The new exciting baby? The Marvel Cinematic Universe.

photo credit: Denton, Texas via photopin (license)


  1. Yes I used “healthful” 
  2. Ohio State, Texas, etc. 
  3. For the most part. There are always exceptions. Don’t be a smart ass. 
  4. Not related to conjunction junction. Though they did meet once. 
  5. I like ‘delight’ as a quality
  6. Is there a better way to win here? I don’t doubt there is. We haven’t seen it, however. 
  7. Of course, this presumes he hasn’t failed already. I think he has. 
  8. See Dan McCarney. He obviously can coach a mid-level non-powerhouse to respectability. He can’t necessarily bring that to NT. I mean, it is hard remember? 
Categories
General

The (Half-Ass) 2014 North Texas Sports Media Awards

2014 started with so much promise. We traveled deep into the Heart of Dallas, felt its rhythmic, tribal beating, and took what was rightfully ours. I remember when the game started and UNLV marched right down and scored early, that familiar “ol’ North Texas can’t have nothin’” dread quickly washed over and started numbing my extremities in a way only this fan base understands. Then, the team just beat the crap out of them and there was joy and a sense that anything was possible.

Now, we’re a year out and all of those happy thoughts have been replaced by anything ranging from this

http://memegenerator.net/instance/57599916

to this

http://memegenerator.net/instance/57599959

depending on a number of factors ranging from world view, age to political preferences. On the plus side, the last sports match of the year featured our Hoops Benfords on the road holding Texas Tech to 43% shooting (and still losing by 15.)

Wait — was that last sentence a compliment?

I’m glad you asked, because the only thing that seemingly evolved this season was the media coverage around the program, including how things were reported out, spun and otherwise covered. That is why I am proud to present the first Mean Green Nation media year in review. This is by no means comprehensive or coherent, so please direct any and all hate mail to your personal twitter account and hashtag appropriately to fully capture your outrage.

The Quoner Memorial “Hey – Remember When Johnny Quinn Was Everywhere?” Award: Johnny Quinn, for being everywhere
Who else but Olympic hero Johnny Quinn. Now that he broke down the walls to everyone’s hearts, we surely won’t hear the end of him, right? See, he’s right there between the TCU/Baylor controversy and Donald Sterling forever!

The George Dunham Bravado Award: SMU speech at the coach’s show
George usually finds ways to show how little he cares for the message board/blog crowd on his show, but that didn’t stop him from firing up his own YouTube comment section-worthy “HOT TAKE” on SMU before the game:

“I am a North Texas grad,” Dunham said on the radio show. “That is our rivalry. I hate SMU and always have. If they were playing Russia State, I would root for Russia State to beat them by four touchdowns.”

Two theories here – he’s been watching Red Dawn between film study and show prep, or he just hadn’t fired up the old Taketronic 6000 since the Reagan years. Don’t worry, those sea legs come back quick.

“I Bet Coach Wants This One Back” Award: Dan McCarney on how hard it is to win at North Texas
Of all the Dan McCarney decisions that can be second guessed this year, I think the one to complain about his situation is the worst one – because if he doesn’t win next year, you’re going to read it endlessly from every angry internet hot take artist with a pulse.

Weirdest Twitter Feud Award: The SID and Student Body President
It all started with an attempt by the North Texan to explain why people aren’t attending basketball games anymore (probably a major mystery we should put out best men on), and ended with a very weak quote to come out of a student representative’s mouth. That said, I think most of us would have missed it if not for some hot Twitter action a few days later. It looks like they hashed it all out and even came to an understanding, but it just seemed weird to do it publically. Thanks internet.

Best Rehash of an Untrue Origin Story Award: Each CUSA Broadcast team who recited the Mean Joe Greene story.
We didn’t name the team after the player. It is a fun story but untrue. Do we want it to be the origin story? Doesn’t matter. Do we think it would be easier to just let the announcers run with it and keep up the fun? Doesn’t matter. Is it laziness on the part of the announcing crew, who are either inexperienced weatherman doing a gig where they get to be Pat Summerall and John Madden; or a couple of pros who actually wish they got the TCU/Baylor game on FSSW? Doesn’t matter. Is it on the SID’s plate o’ facts that are always ignored? Doesn’t matter. Where is Snopes when you need them?

I Hope That Guy Does Well Award: The kid that did the sideline reporting during the CUSA broadcasts that writes for NT Dailyit turns out he doesn’t write for the Daily. Where did I get that from? — and also does the Green Guys show. Green Guys isn’t particularly great, but it is a show about MG and I love them for it. Three cheers for good ol’ Evan Nemec, who was miles ahead of any of the other school’s sideline kids. A special shoutout to UAB’s sideline reporter lady, whose less-than-awesome dispatches spawned a bit on the Deranged Pengwin Podcast that no one understands. Woot!

Most Random/Optimistic Tweet in the Face of Sorrow Award: Mean Green Sports Social Media
Running the official social media feed is a thankless task – so why start thanking anyone now? They knew what they signed up for. Sometimes, when things are going poorly or the situation is a little odd, you got to just dive in and make the best of it. [You can totally pick which one here]


https://twitter.com/FSSWGirls/status/456892448854114304

SID Intern Working OT Fun Fact of the Year Award: (Tie) November Record vs. Four Year Record
We won November, which is more than Indians can say. Also, it was pointed out we have 22 wins in fours years in some game notes. Don’t be depressed about that – just the number make you feel like you just got 4 Dodges worth of wins.

Best North Texas State Reference: All of Them!

I didn’t get a chance to see the LHN coverage of the first game from the crowd, but dammit I know one of them called us North Texas State. Damn you 1961-1988! Damn you SCOTT BAKULA!!

Craig Miller Memorial Allegiance Award: Mike Taylor of the Ticket in San Antonio
Imagine if Randy Galloway’s less talented clone from another dimension was trying to do Ticket (Dallas) bits and you have imagined Taylor. In his defense, he is the best San Antonio has on the air and when his bosses let him be fun he was fun. He went to NT (for a while) , but insists on rooting for TCU (he’s from FW) and throwing shade this-a-way. Like purposefully calling us NT State in the lead-up to the UTSA-UNT game (it’s as genius as calling a guy named Chuck Charles until he politely asks you to stop for the 50th time.)  Its grating after a while and when you are in San Antonio and the only bit of Fortune 500-funded-media (iHeart Radio, neé Clear Channel) that is talking UNTvUTSA is Taylor, it is relatively inescapable.

Citizenship Award for Classiest Opponent Play-by-Play: Rice Owls Soccer Announcer Calls Our Soccer Coach a Prick on the Air
Watching women’s college soccer is an interesting activity when placed in the context of larger college sportsball watching activities. One of the things you realize is that the broadcasts are unrestrained, un-good, and sometimes unhinged.

Here is the audio!

Categories
Football

North Texas 2014-2015 Offseason

Dan McCarney, in his State of the Program speech to reporters said that last year felt totally different than this year.

That’s something we’ve all said. How much blame should we assign the coaching staff and when that is done, what do we do? Should Mac be fired? Put on the “hot seat“? What about the atrocious offense? Should Mike Canales be let go?

Well, it seems Danny Mac has decided he wants his staff to remain. 

We were disappointing on offense this year. We weren’t nearly as good as we could have been or would like to be and used three quarterbacks. What am I going to do, turn around and fire a bunch of guys? I take my time. I evaluate and am loyal, but my expectation is to win. Everyone has their job to do. If they do their job and every day I see them doing what I expect of them even though we didn’t get the results we wanted, then I want them by my side. If not, we will make adjustments.

That is reasonable. I believe in empowering those  who work for you. If you yank a job immediately after a mistake, you make those employees risk-averse. Granted, this was the worst offense we’ve had in a while. In Canales’ defense, he did just helm the most prolific a season before. That highlights the importance of the QB position, despite Danny Mac’s desire to have a bus driver.

MGN will have an entire series wonkishly breaking this all down but my gut reaction is that Dan McCarney is a good coach who had a bad season. He’s rightly identified the problem areas: the poor talent evaluation, poor recruiting, poor coaching. There are more ways to fix these things than just replacing people.

In fact, firing coaches is the most disruptive thing you can do. Recruits and existing players have built relationships with these guys and disruption isn’t the best remedy with Signing Day just three months away.

North Texas needed a proven D-1 /FBS coach when it signed McCarney. He has proven to be just that. He has won more games than his immediate predecessors against better competition. He won a damned bowl game for little old UNT.

Sure, we can’t stand still if we alumni and fans want a successful program. We can’t be impatient, either.

Every job has it’s performance cycles. In Mac’s case that is seasonally, perhaps annually.  In this particular annual review I’d rate him as Below Expectations. Last year I’d rate him as Sig Above. The years before that, Consistent With, and Above.

It isn’t just wins and losses, either. It is the way we win or lose. That matters. Sure, this isn’t Texas and we don’t spend a fortune on athletics, marketing, coaches, recruiting, and outreach. But does that mean you allow 44 a game on the road? Does that mean your QBs look like they picked up the game over the summer? Does that mean you have  the worst offense in the last six year?

But

Similarly, you have to put it all in context. And wins and losses aren’t the only thing the guy is judged on. He is great with boosters, and fans, and the media. That goes a long way. He also got to a bowl game and was one game away from playing in the CUSA title game. That’s impressive relative to our history. I say judge him fully in two more years because that would mean four whole years of his coaches, his players, his legacy.1

Mac is great with fans. The Why Not North Texas speech was great. He’s a great motivator. He’s done a lot to get people in the stands. The bowl game and wins last year were great. The losses this year hurt attendance but wins will always bring more to the stadium than losses.

If you want to judge him on Mean Green Club or alumni association memberships, or the advertising, and all that is on the Athletic Director. There are numerous threads on why/how/ this is the case.

As I get further into my alumni-dom I see what the old (fogies) have been complaining about. Here in San Antonio the alumni outreach began great but the momentum died because of some administrative problems in Denton.

I met a guy at my tailgate that graduated in 2002. He said he never gets anything UNT related through email, regular mail, nothing.

I don’t think Danny Mac has email blast responsibilities. So I wont blame him for that. The guy did mention he saw us in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on TV. I do think Danny Mac had a hand in that.

 


  1.  RV is probably on a different timeline. He gets judged on the bball team too. That would be more damning if that was the revenue-program here. It isn’t. 
Categories
MGN Podcast

38: The Season’s Gone

Hello ladies and gents, listen as Adam and Adam Rosenfield from Underdog Dynasty talk some North Texas vs UTSA, and recap the season. Greg chimes in from twitter.

MGN Podcast is the Official Podcast of the Unofficial UNT sports blog Mean Green Nation!

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 also in the iTunes store.

You can contact the podcast at podcast@meangreennation.com.

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Categories
Football

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.