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North Texas Failure in 2014 Offers A Cautionary Tale

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The Mean Green posted a seemingly out-of-nowhere 9-4 record last year. They then extended Dan McCarney for five more years. Was that a smart move?

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

I'll preface this by saying that every mid-major school wants to be the next TCU, or Boise State, schools that basically built (or rebuilt) their programs from scratch and grew them into forces of nature in the college football landscape. It's why even though most schools in the G5 have considerably less amounts of money in the athletic coffers than their P5 counterparts, the hook to fire a football coach is just as quick, or even quicker (see Buffalo).

Then there are those schools who are down for so long, that just an ounce of success tends to cause an overreaction among the administration. This overreaction sometimes ends up leading to far greater consequences.

Dan McCarney is an excitable guy. He oozes passion for the game and his win totals at North Texas dwarf anything the school experienced during the Todd Dodge years and the latter part of the Darrel Dickey tenure. Both him and defensive coordinator John Skladany helped remake the Mean Green into a nationally ranked unit that put fear into everyone last year, including Georgia. McCarney likes to say he's got skins on the wall, with 12 years at Iowa State and a national championship ring from working with the defensive line at the University of Florida.

North Texas believed in those skins on the wall, signing the coach to a five-year extension and bumping his base salary to over $600,000 a year after the banner 2013 the team had. At the time, the Mean Green faithful thought the extension was well-deserved. This year has caused many to think otherwise, as what McCarney did not do in 2013 has come back to hurt him in 2014.

The questions start with quarterback play. North Texas was involved in five blowout wins last year, yet quarterbacks not named Derek Thompson accounted for 12 TOTAL PASSING ATTEMPTS. Twelve. Could Dajon Williams or Andrew McNulty have played in the second half of a 55-14 game against Southern Miss last year? Probably- what's the worst that could happen?

McCarney's failure to make adjustments cost him dearly at Iowa State. Cyril Lemon, an All-Conference guard last year, and someone who many expected to break the Mean Green's long draft drought, was moved to tackle. This experiment has not worked, and even at 2-6, Mac has made no mention of changing his thinking.

When McCarney arrived at UNT in 2010, he was quoted as saying there wasn't much talent up and down the roster. Did he neglect to include Brelan Chancellor, or Zach Orr, who were freshman at the time, and a major reason behind the Mean Green's 2013 success.

With a $600k base salary, McCarney should be doing more, especially in the recruiting realm. According to the Yahoo! recruiting rankings, even with a stellar year, North Texas could not capitalize, ranking dead last among FBS programs in recruiting rankings.

McCarney doesn't have the excuses his predecessors did. His football team plays at a state-of-the-art stadium (compared to the dump that is Fouts Field), the Mean Green call Conference USA home, where they are guaranteed to play at least 3 Texas schools every year, and the administration has invested serious cash into him and his assistants.

Six hundred grand should buy you consistency. Marshall's Doc Holliday makes less than McCarney, and is in a state which produces much less talent than Texas, yet has still managed to build a winner these past two years. Bill Clark makes $150,000 less than McCarney and got UAB turned around and competitive in his FIRST YEAR, including a close game with now college football number 1 Mississippi State.

Desperate people tend to make ill-advised decisions. Just ask my ex-girlfriends. North Texas had two years left on McCarney's contract, and at age 60, with a losing record, he wasn't going anywhere. 2014 is a wash for North Texas, but McCarney needs to learn from his past mistakes, and prove that 2015 won't be. Otherwise. North Texas made a mistake that will cost the school millions.