In a surprising twist, the timing has worked out perfectly when it comes to our post-spring football series. The final part — coaching — is today. Monday is Sun Belt media day.
One can argue back and forth about where the impact of coaching is most evident on the college level. I have always been of the opinion that college football is not really an Xs and Os game. It’s a Jimmmys and Joes game.
The coaches who succeed are not always the ones whose strengths are game plans, calling a game or making the perfect adjustment. More often than not, the coaches who win are the guys who get the talent to campus, can keep the top players on the field and have them playing well together.
In that sense, UNT went from the outhouse to the penthouse last season.
Dan McCarney came in and totally revived the program. The players gradually bought in and played hard until the end of the season, even when they didn’t have anything to play for against Middle Tennessee.
McCarney is a master psychologist. He had UNT playing out of its mind at times, especially in the season finale against the Blue Raiders. I don’t see a lot of other coaches out there who can use motivation to their advantage like McCarney does.
UNT does have some areas for concern when it comes to coaching, though, including changing defensive coordinators again. Two years ago, UNT had Gary DeLoach, last year it was Clint Bowen, now it will be John Skladany. All three of those guys are good coaches. The constant change is something of a concern, though. One would worry more if it was offensive coordinators UNT was changing every year. Defensive schemes are a little easier to adjust to when coordinators change. A lot of times it’s a matter of terminology.
Still, there are philosophical differences between coaches. UNT’s players will have to adapt. We will have to wait and see how aggressive Skladany will be next season.
UNT also has a new safeties coach in Noah Joseph in addition to a new defensive coordinator in Skladany. In a roundabout way, Joseph replaces linebackers coach Anthony Weaver, who left for a job in the NFL. Skladany will coach UNT’s linebackers. Joseph came to UNT from Montana State, where he worked with cornerbacks coach Justin Gaines, who has been a find as a coach, and especially as a recruiter, for UNT.
Turnover with assistant coaches is nothing new at UNT. It just seems like the staff is a little better prepared to face it now. UNT brought in a really good defensive coordinator in Skladany, who had one of the best defenses in college football just last season at Central Florida. Joseph is another guy with experience who was a graduate assistant early in his career under McCarney at Iowa State.
UNT found what seemed to be a great mix with its staff last season, and while Bowen and Weaver were key losses, McCarney was able to plug the holes with qualified coaches.
UNT lacks a little bit when it comes to Texas ties on its staff. There were times I wondered if that would not haunt UNT in recruiting, but it has not been as big an issue as I thought it might be.
It’s hard to imagine anyone having done any better at UNT than McCarney did last season and he seems to have put the Mean Green in a good position going forward when it comes to the coaching staff.