Notes and thoughts from the final stop of the Mean Green caravan

The final stop in the Mean Green Caravan (the annual pep talk for UNT fans) was tonight over in Fort Worth.

I swung by after arriving back in town.

UNT fans really seem like they could stand to have a morale-boosting evening. And the UNT athletic department puts on a pretty good show.

It was a tough year in the land of the Mean and the Green with UNT going 0-fer in the big three sports when it comes to posting a winning record — football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball. There were a lot of good things that happened, but it’s been a long time since UNT went without a winning season in a revenue sport.

The theme for the night was why there is hope that type of year will soon be only a memory.

The highlights:

– I asked Rick Villarreal about the 2015 football schedule and the possibility that UNT will have just five home games. Villarreal said the schedule is far from done and the plan is to have six home games every year.

– The UNT women’s basketball team received good news when doctors went in and performed surgery on Alexis Hyder’s knee. They didn’t know until they went in if Hyder needed some minor cleanup work on her knee or if she needed to have a full-blown hole in her cartilage fixed. It turned out she just needed it to be cleaned out. She will only be out a few weeks rather than several months.

– T.J. Taylor has been cleared by team doctors after having shoulder surgery.

– The Creighton men’s basketball team will play at the Super Pit in two seasons in a return game

– Jacob Holmen could be back as a graduate assistant next season

– The UNT women’s basketball team will have a home tournament next season that will help swing the Mean Green’s schedule back to a home-heavy slate. UNT has been on the road more often than not in nonconference play the last several years.

– The OU women will play at the Super Pit in two years.

– The status of the UNT-UTA men’s basketball game in still up in the air. UNT needs three money games and is already locked into the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic and a game at Texas A&M.

– Dan McCarney talked about several different positions, but since it’s what everyone is interested in, the quarterback race looks like it will include Derek Thompson and Andrew McNulty. McCarney said he didn’t know if Brock Berglund could make up for lost time and be a factor after missing most of the spring.

– McCarney said Marcus Trice could end up being special, which I thought was interesting seeing as it seems like UNT was trying to replace him not too long ago.

– Both McCarney and Tony Benford talked about the importance of getting players to campus on unofficial visits. Both said most top high school players don’t realize what UNT has following all the upgrades the school has made over the last few years. Most also don’t know how big UNT is and what it has to offer. Benford talked about one area player who recently visited (Zach Peters, cough, cough) who said he thought UNT had maybe 10,000 student.

– This has been mentioned already, but Zed Evans got a second year of eligibility. That could end up being a really, really big deal.

– On the football scheduling front, McCarney and Villarreal said they liked having a team like Georgia on the schedule, as long as it was a once-a-year deal. UNT wants to stay away from playing more than one major conference opponent a year. Villarreal talked about how winning one of those games could vault UNT into the national spotlight.

– On the basketball scheduling front, Villarreal said UNT wants to be smart about scheduling. UNT wants to put together a slate of games that will allow UNT to rack up 20 wins a season. Once UNT is winning consistently, then the difficulty of the schedule can increase. Translation — Don’t be surprised if UNT doesn’t go back to scheduling the way Johnny Jones did before he really got it rolling.

– There was also a lot of “facility-building” talk. Villarreal said UNT spent $1.1 million on athletic facilities in 25 years before he arrived and raised $3 million in 30 days for the basketball practice facility. He also mentioned that UNT has spent $108 million on facilities in his tenure.

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