Graham Harrell accepted a job as Southern California’s offensive coordinator late Monday night, meaning North Texas and coach Seth Littrell have to find a new play-caller for the future.
Littrell went with a young, up and coming star when he chose Harrell as one of his first hires when he took over the Mean Green in 2016. Although it worked out and Littrell could go that route again, UNT now has more possibilities because of its recent success, especially with a standout quarterback in Mason Fine, who will be a senior this season.
Here are some options who could be calling plays for the Mean Green this upcoming season.
Mainord is already on UNT’s staff as an associate head coach and passing game coordinator, and has been in Denton since the start of the Littrell era. This would be an easy hire for Littrell, considering Mainord is already on staff. Mainord is also probably the top option if Littrell does decide to fill the position from within. Mainord has coached receivers most of his career, meaning UNT would still probably want to hire a quarterbacks coach to fully replace Harrell, as Mainord has coached the position, along with running backs, for only three seasons at Tarleton State. His only experience as an offensive coordinator comes from two seasons at Lamar.
Since the Mean Green have seen so much success lately, especially on offense, that opens up the possibility of a veteran coach coming to Denton. The chance to work with Fine right off the bat will raise eyebrows for any coach, as well.
Meacham has been available since October, when he was fired as Kansas’ offensive coordinator. He’s also served as an offensive coordinator at TCU and Houston. Meacham also has ties to Texas, not only through coaching experience, but also as an Arlington native.
However, downfalls of hiring a more well-known name is that they’re more likely to dart quicker after success and also request more money.
Dunn has built quite the reputation the past eight seasons as Oklahoma State’s receivers coach.
The Cowboys claimed their only Big 12 championship Dunn’s first year on staff, and Justin Blackmon won the Biletnikoff Award as the country’s best receiver. James Washington became OSU’s second Biletnikoff Award winner under Dunn in 2017 as the leader of what many considered to be the best receiving core in the nation. Tylan Wallace was also a finalist for the honor last season.
Dunn has never been an offensive coordinator despite coaching in the college ranks since 1993, but his name is always mentioned when OSU is in search of a play-caller. The Cowboys just hired Princeton’s Sean Gleeson during their most recent offensive coordinator search this offseason. UNT could be Dunn’s first chance at running an offense, especially with his experience recruiting Texas.
Like Harrell, Reeder could be the next big thing.
Eastern Washington had one of the most potent offenses in the FCS in Reeder’s second season as its offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. The success led to his name being mentioned as a candidate to fill Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator vacancy because of his connections with the school as a quarterbacks coach from 2014-16.
At only 32 years old, Reeder is moving up the coaching ranks quickly and already has experience recruiting the D-FW area for EWU.
This really seems like the best and cheapest option. As a three-year starter at quarterback, Fine knows UNT’s offense better than anyone, and that system has already proven to be successful. Fine would also be a free option, considering student-athletes cannot be paid because of NCAA rules.
The role of player/coach has become extinct, but what says the Mean Green can’t revive the old tradition? They say all trends come back in style again eventually anyway.