I stopped by the Kickoff Cookout tonight.
It actually became a cook-in due to the rain. UNT moved the event to the club level in Apogee Stadium. There was still a pretty turnout, especially considering the Cowboys are on right now.
The only real news tidbit of the night was that Rick Villarreal said that UNT will face St. Joe’s in men’s basketball before heading to the Preseason NIT this year. That will be a pretty good game for UNT against another mid-major power.
Dan McCarney did mention that UNT had 64 players with a GPA of 3.0 or better over the summer.
What was interesting outside of the news of the night was what Villarreal and McCarney had to say.
Villarreal acknowledged that UNT’s home schedule in football leaves a lot to be desired.
That pretty much equated to saying, “Hey, anyone notice that big pink hippopotamus in the corner?”
Villarreal went on to acknowledge the obvious. You don’t get Kansas State and Houston into town for the closing of Fouts and the opening of Apogee without having to pay the piper.
UNT is going to pay the piper this year.
Both McCarney and Villarreal also hit the “come to games” angle really hard. Johnny Jones used to say that it shouldn’t matter who UNT is playing. If UNT is playing, people who say the Mean Green is their team should show up.
I always agreed.
It’s just hard to draw in the casual fan that way.
UNT officials want their fans to get everyone they can to home games, especially that home game on ESPN2 against Louisiana-Lafayette this year.
McCarney also talked a little about where UNT stands as a program. He said UNT was not going to Baton Rouge for a paycheck. UNT is going to play to win.
He also mentioned that when he got to UNT, it was a “last resort school” for high school players in Texas, which is something he is trying to change. He was careful to say that was only the case in football. I thought that was smart on his part. There are some other teams on campus (men’s basketball, women’s soccer) that are bringing in players with a lot of options and have been for a long time.
Villarreal reiterated his stance that UNT has a coaching lineup that is just as good as any in the country and took a shot at SMU. He talked about making North Texas UNT’s territory and joked about SMU enjoying the snow in the Big East.