Coach Dan McCarney was relieved of his duties as the North Texas head coach after the past weekend. With McCarney out, North Texas will be looking to find someone that can turn around a program struggling to get back to where it was in 2013. Turning around a program that has accumulated a 4-13 record over the past season and a half does not sound like an easy task. However, the job may be far more lucrative than meets the eye.
North Texas has what it needs to make a pretty good sales pitch for the coach that they need if they focus around these main arguments.
1) Young talented players
The Mean Green graduated a rather large number of talented players (and more important, leaders) after their bowl win during the 2013-2014 season. Since that point, the team has struggled to find the reliable players that will bring this program back to a bowl. Although this season has not been pretty for the Mean Green, it has shed light on numerous players that could be the future for this program.
Smith has not yet gotten the playing time that he probably deserves. Over the past two games, Smith has come in towards the end of each game and given a glimpse at what could be. Although the numbers from his first game were less than stellar, Smith has clear talent. There's no questioning his arm strength, and his mobility in the pocket allows him time to look downfield while the young offensive line goes through growing pains. Being only a junior in eligibility, Smith has the rest of this season and all of next season to improve his consistency and decision making. With the right coach and weapons around him, Smith could be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference.
Jeffrey Wilson and Company
Watch this young man when he has the ball and you'll see someone who fights for every extra yard that he can gain. Wilson is explosive out of the backfield and has the speed/agility to make defenders miss in the open field. After missing the first two games due to injury, Wilson has picked up 259 yards in the past three games. 74 of those yards came against the 5th ranked rushing defense at the time in Iowa. Wilson is just a sophomore.
Also a sophomore, third-string running back Willie Ivery has a smaller role on the offense but appears just as explosive as Wilson when given opportunities. In his 21 attempts for the season, Wilson has averaged 6.4 yards per run and found the end zone once.
The North Texas defense is struggling this season to say the least. Through five games, the Mean Green are allowing an average of 290 passing yards per game. Some of their woes may be due to defensive leader, Kenny Buyers, being out for the season with an injury. However, a bright spot for the defense has been the play of sophomore Kishawn McClain. McClain is currently ranked 5th in the NCAA for total tackles with 39. This guy is electric on the field. He's fast, he's exciting to watch, and he seems to do whatever he can to boost the morale and play of the teammates around him. McClain will only get better, and Buyers is coming back next year. These pieces could become a competitive defense next season with the right coaching.
2) DFW recruiting base
Each year, the Dallas-Forth Worth area produces a large amount of very talented high school recruits. Texas A&M quarterback Kenny Hill, TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin and number of other players attended high schools that are located within an hour of the UNT campus. If you fancy yourself a good recruiter, North Texas is a place that you want to be. Combine the young talent that already exists on the roster with a coach who can continuously recruit the top talent in the area and you have a program that can be successful for a very long time.
3) Freedom to re-build
This vacancy isn't the result of a coach leaving for a better position. This vacancy is the result of an 0-5 start to a season that was supposed to make up for a subpar performance last season. The defense is allowing far too many points each game. The offense isn't scoring nearly as many points as it needs to be. This is a true rebuilding project. Which means whoever gets chosen as the next head coach should have the opportunity to take the team in whichever direction they want. If your scheme is to spread the offense and simply outscore the opposing team each week, similar to TCU, go for it. If you have a strong defensive mind and just want to make sure the other team scores as little as possible, have at it. This will be your team, and the fanbase will more than likely support whichever way you decide is best to bring back glory to the green.
4) Dollars and cents
While at UNT, Coach McCarney was the fourth highest paid coach in Conference USA. His salary of $720,000 was significantly higher than the majority of coaches in the conference. If you look at the current salaries at some of the candidates to replace McCarney, all of them are looking at a sizeable pay increases. Although McCarney did not start at that salary, his raise of almost $200,000 after the Heart of Dallas bowl win shows how much this program appreciates a winner. Turn this program into a consistent contender and you could be looking at a very big pay day.
5) Top-notch facilities
North Texas has some of the best facilities in the conference for each of its athletic teams. The football program, specifically, recently added a beautiful new stadium to show off to recruits and host the tens of thousands of alumni in the area. Apogee Stadium is a $78 million project that opened in 2011 and has since been the home of the Mean Green. Prior to this season, Apogee stadium was the site of the best home-field advantage in college football. Dozens of recruits have cited Apogee as being a factor in their decision to commit to North Texas. With the stadium being so new, there are still many firsts to be had: The first conference championship hosted at Apogee, the first victory over a top 25 team in Apogee, etc. The opportunity to be the head coach attached to all of those historic firsts is in front of each candidate for the Mean Green head coaching position.