On Tuesday night, for those of you following North Texas AD Wren Baker on Twitter, you saw the following tweet:
Hey @espn & @MSU_Athletics , without a doubt @MeanGreenSports is the hottest athletic dept in the country. BUT you can’t just try to steal #MeanGreen. It’s trademarked and has been for a very, very long time. Cease and desist letter on the way. https://t.co/7g69KeEm0T— Wren Baker (@wrenbaker) October 4, 2017
If you’re in a place where you can’t click that replied tweet at the bottom, this is what Baker was retweeting to his nearly 4000 followers:
wow! michigan vs north texas in primetime on saturday can't wait! pic.twitter.com/X5ZKXclUoB— nick (@nick_pants) October 4, 2017
On the one hand, sure. I’d like to see that match-up, considering how close North Texas ran with Iowa the other week, taking a lead into the third quarter. Michigan and North Texas have never played each other. On the other hand, copyright infringement.
By Wednesday, everything was solved— the perpetrator was not anyone at Michigan or Michigan State, but at ESPN, because godforbid a low-level ESPN intern is required to do their research while employed at the Worldwide Leader:
Thx to ESPN for reaching out quickly & correcting Mean Green usage. I appreciate MSU AD Mark Hollis for reaching out as well. Love the national respect for our brand! pic.twitter.com/M4yhgIrwRh— Wren Baker (@wrenbaker) October 4, 2017
So everything appeared to work out. But for how long?
As the premiere website for Group-of-Five coverage (don’t @ me), Underdog Dynasty has a responsibility to get the word out there, especially when supposed large media conglomerates (or just their social media managers) drop the ball. Here are five things everyone, especially the college football world, should know about North Texas, to keep Wren Baker from threatening anymore lawsuits:
1. North Texas started using “Mean Green” in 1966
Commonly attributed to “Mean” Joe Green, the greatest football player ever produced by the UNT program (with apologies to Stone Cold Steve Austin), Mean Green was in fact the name of the North Texas defense that finished 2nd nationally against the rush that season. While it’s not clear exactly who first used the term, the name followed Green to Pittsburgh, where eventually he stopped correcting people.
The mascot of the school was officially the Eagles at the time, but as the school transitioned to FBS now over 15 years ago, they began using Mean Green as their official mascot for the team as a whole. A difficult factoid to miss, to be sure, but it’s not like UNT won four straight Sun Belt titles from 2001-2004, or anything.
FUN FACT: 1966 was also the last year Michigan State football won a national title.
Chances you’ll be sued for stealing the name: 100%
2. The name of the school is the University of North Texas
North Texas has gone through different names over the years, but this is not unique in the college football world over the course of the 20th century. From 1961 to 1988, they were North Texas State, and this is what no doubt stuck in the public consciousness during the Joe Green years. In 1988, the school renamed itself the University of North Texas, or 25 years before Southwest Texas renamed themselves Texas State, and yet the latter seems to be sticking more readily.
To put it another way, the school was North Texas State for 27 years, and stopped using the name 29 years ago. It’s time to get the word out. Maybe last weeks victory over Mississippi Southern College— sorry, the University of Southern Mississippi— will help get the word out on Twitter and Facebook, and for the older fans, MySpace, Friendster, and the Wall Street Journal comments section.
Chances you’ll be sued for mis-naming North Texas: 0%, but they still have the old one trademarked too, so maybe don’t take chances.
3. Denton is close to Dallas— but not TOO close
The greater Dallas-Ft Worth area is referred to as, well, the Dallas-Ft Worth area. Of the surrounding cities, the most famous is arguably Arlington, TX (home of the Cowboys and Rangers), and perhaps Irving, TX (home of Texas Stadium until it was demolished in 2010).
But just 35 miles north up I-35 is Denton, home of the Mean Green, and the largest student body of any of the DFW FBS schools, far surpassing TCU and SMU in terms of student population.
Arlington is sandwiched between Dallas and Ft. Worth, often forgotten by the nation at large, or just called “Dallas” to the eternal irritation of its residents. Irving, meanwhile, doesn’t get much better treatment either, a city with a lot to offer but no landmark near as big in fame or acreage as Texas Stadium.
Denton, meanwhile, is a comfy drive up I-35 (or I-35W if you live in Ft. Worth), where there’s room to spread out. Party up on Fry Street, away from the city crowds, or take a drive around Loop 288, to see the explosive economic growth in just the last 16 years, since those FBS dollars came to town.
If you’re not familiar with Texas, are a casual fan or just a disinterested media member, you might hear the location of other Texas D-I schools with remote, unfamiliar names like “Abilene” or “Lubbock” or “San Marcos,” and assume they’re all remote one-horse towns. Well, I can assure you all of these areas have excellent bars, gorgeous scenery, and fine football traditions. You can Google it. Or just streetview the stadiums, we live in the future, after all.
Chances you’ll be sued for forgetting where Denton is: 50%, Dallasites are a litigious lot.
4. North Texas is the 4th largest school in the state
By population, the largest are easy— Texas A&M has more students overall these days, with UT coming right behind, albeit with more undergraduates. Third is the University of Houston, not surprising considering the overall population of their city. And while North Texas is currently neck-and-neck with Texas State, UNT’s lead a few years ago perhaps led to Texas State’s decision to jump to FBS, so as not to get left behind. And it’s working— TxSt’s numbers are up— they just have yet to replicate that success on the football field.
Yes, we know, even mentioning the Bobcats in the same breath is about to blow up our mentions. This is fine. We appreciate the pageviews. Tell your AD to schedule a home-and-home so we can drink in each others’ bars, sample each others’ BBQ, and mock anyone in Longhorn gear.
Chances you’ll be sued for thinking all Big 12 schools are larger: 75%. If you’re that bad at math, eventually your employer will find out.
Okay, so North Texas doesn’t have any national titles in football. Plenty of Power Five programs don’t either. But this isn’t some FBS upstart, the Mean Green jumped to FBS (then I-A) in 2001, just a few years after UAB. With C-USA already at capacity, North Texas settled for four Sun Belt titles from 2001-2004, before the former AD got some very bad advice and fired that coach after only two off-years, and hired some guy out of high school. It’s taken a few more years (and one additional unqualified, bargain-basement coach) to correct this mistake, but North Texas is finally making due on their promise from a decade ago.
Chances you’ll be sued for forgetting every North Texas season prior to 2015: 12.5%, there are some seasons in there UNT would like to forget, too.
Other facts that are easily looked up on the ol’ interwebs:
—Apogee Stadium, home of the Mean Green since 2011, has a seating capacity of 30,850. This plus room for expansion puts them perilously close to SMU’s Gerald J. Ford stadium, which currently seats 32,000 and has no room for expansion.
—Famous alums include Joe Green, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Peter Weller, NFL players Patrick Cobbs and Lance Dunbar, Pat Boone, Norah Jones, former Miss America Phyllis George, Don Henley, Dr. Phil McGraw, Larry McMurtry, Meat Loaf, Bill Moyers, Roy Orbison, and Anne Rice. That’s a lot of people you’ve heard of, coming from a school you should probably be able to name.
—The North Texas Mean Green have all-time winning or tied records against the following FBS teams: Louisville (10-7), Cincinnati (9-7, including a bowl victory in 2002), Houston (7-7), Texas Tech (4-4), Boise State (3-3), Oregon State, Indiana, Tennessee and Florida (1-1 against each), and not just winning records but oppressive winning records over UTEP, Texas State and an impending victory later this season against Rice will bring their all-time series to 4-4.
Yes, we know, UNT just came off a bad decade. But with a population of DFW and a student body the size of the University of Houston, how long was that ever going to last?
Hey, Big Ten. If you’re scared to schedule Appalachian State or Troy, maybe give Wren Baker a call.