It’s a tale as old as time— when you’re in the Group of Five, you want your coach to be good, but not TOO good.
The Mean Green Nation did not expect to lose Defensive Coordinator Mike Ekeler after one season, but now he’s gone, speeding off to be Co-Defensive Coordinator at the very same school where Seth Littrell ran the offense until 2015. Sure, the 2016 North Texas defense was good— as we said so vocally, and often— but ACC good? Maybe we were a little TOO vocal.
Replacing household name Gene Chizik at UNC isn’t too shabby, but this leaves UNT with a big problem on defense and one they’ll need to fix quickly, especially with the new signees who thought they knew what they were getting when they committed.
It gets worse— Footballscoop.com is reporting that defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc is leaving for Kentucky. His replacement is already lined up, however, in the form of former Cincinnati co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Jeff Koonz.
This is an offseason that has already seen OL coach Brad Davis depart for Florida, causing more instability in the program as they scramble to fill the gaps and still compete with C-USA stalwarts Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss.
The staff already parted ways with special teams coordinator Tommy Perry earlier in the offseason.
Not too long ago, North Texas resided in the Sun Belt where they didn’t have to deal with this sort of thing. The bigger spotlight of C-USA is certainly having an effect, and it’s reasonable to expect some bad to go with the good.
Still, this is a tough pill to swallow after only one season of some really promising defense, leaving 2017 all the more up in the air. We’ll watch closely to see who Littrell chooses as replacement, and we’ll thank the football gods that offensive coordinator Graham Harrell remains in place. For now.