When Bill Connelly started his 128-team preview series with North Texas fond memories began to run through my mind as Connelly eluded to how North Texas eventually became good when he would play season mode in NCAA Football.
In NCAA Football 2007-2009 I always started dynasty mode with North Texas. When EA Sports introduced Online Dynasty the first team I played with against my friends was North Texas. I thought Riley Dodge was going to be a beast and immediately jumped on the Mean Green bandwagon as I won four straight Sun Belt Conference championships before leaving for Texas A&M.
We all know how the Dodge era worked out for the North Texas faithful in real life but that's beside the point. Given North Texas' location, facilities, and decent tradition its pretty easy to see why North Texas should be good, and why any one aspiring to be a head coach would take this job.
- The recruiting base is fantastic. About an hour outside of Dallas and the metroplex, North Texas isn't too far away from some of the best high school kids in the nation.
- The administration is committed to winning. Apogee Stadium is still pretty new. Built in 2011, its one of the best stadiums in CUSA.
- There's precedent than you can build a winning program in Denton. As a member of the Sun Belt Conference North Texas went to the New Orleans Bowl four straight times from 2001-2005.
- North Texas head coaches are consistently near the top of the pay scale for Conference USA head coaches.
- The amount of alumni that stay in the DFW area can contribute to high attendance if the team can get back on track.
- The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex is owned by TCU at the moment and if SMU ever gets going again then they will surely make headlines in the area as well. As close as North Texas is to the metroplex it will probably never be an area they can call their own.
- The apathy around the program is concerning. Despite the athletic department and UNT booster's desire to have an on-campus stadium and get one built they still can't get attendance numbers up. There's a lot of competition for fans and not many kids grow up rooting for the Mean Green in Texas.
Making the case for why North Texas belongs at their spot on the list: Anthony Brown, North Texas Beat Writer
The current state of North Texas football is bittersweet for a fan. The memory of being a bowl champion are still relatively fresh in your mind, helping you get through the blowouts against FCS teams. Yet, on the other side, the consistent losses makes the past success seem further and further away.
As unsettling as that is for a fan, that is a pretty great situation to be in for a coach. The university has shown that they are willing to dedicate the resources needed to make North Texas football a competitor again by improving athletic facilities and keeping competitive head coach salaries. Likewise, the local alumni and North Texas fan base have shown recently that they are willing to show up and support a team that is on the right track. Last season, North Texas fans packed into Gerald J. Ford Stadium for an away game against SMU despite the losing season that took place the year before. The culture at North Texas is viable, it just needs to be taken advantage of.
From a coaching perspective, the lack of recent success can easily be seen as a positive. With no "this is how it's always been done" mentality, coaches have an opportunity to bring their own flavor to the team. New head coach, Seth Littrell, took over a team that had a completely different play style than he typically runs and switched everything up with little to no push back. He just came in, did what he thinks will win and that was that.
So let's recap. Located in the middle of a great recruiting base, competitive pay, freedom to coach how you want, and top-notch conference facilities? North Texas may not be the best job in the conference but it certainly isn't far behind many schools. 6th place sounds just about right for now.
If you were playing NCAA Football in an online dynasty...
You choose the Mean Green because you want a relatively easy path on the recruiting trail. The roster is going to need a massive influx of talent but you like the idea of winning with a team full of players that you recruited.
You also are probably like myself and have some type of affiliation with North Texas and a desire for them to be good. No matter what you do Riley Dodge you will always be fondly remembered as the first player I won an Heisman Trophy with.
If you choose this job in real life...
You are probably an excellent up-and-comer or an old coach passing time. The metroplex is extremely desirable and even though you aren't at the top of the food chain, the idea of just having a footprint in the metroplex is good enough.
North Texas has been around since 1995 so there won't be any traditions you have to mold while on the job which is what you prefer. All you have to worry about is the Jimmy's and Joe's and X's and O's. You figure that you can parlay this job into one of the bigger ones in the Big 12 footprint down the road.
You could flip North Texas and UTSA for this spot and you wouldn't get much of an argument from me. I gave the edge to North Texas due to the longevity of their program.
For years North Texas has been labeled as an underachiever. To many they are a sleeping giant. As a result, they should never lose by 59 points to Portland State. The loss was the lowest point in North Texas history as an FBS member and made many question where North Texas ranks among the best jobs in Texas.
Despite the negativity surrounding the football program last season North Texas is still the best Texas job in CUSA. They have a better tradition than UTSA, have a better location and has had more success than UTEP, and don't have the academic restrictions that Rice offers.
Like the rest of the FBS schools in Texas, North Texas is only a hire away from realizing their full potential.
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