Post-spring questions series: No.1 — Is Mac still the same old Mac?

North Texas head coach Dan McCarney is back at work following bypass surgery. His health heading into the off-season is a key question for UNT. (Denton Record-Chronicle/David Minton)

We are on the verge of the most glorious time of the year. Spring football is over, the magazine deadlines have passed and the spring sports season is wrapping up.

That’s right — it’s almost the college sports off-season.

I’m headed out of town tomorrow for a little R&R with the wife. I might jump on the blog a little here and there, but before I bail, I thought this would be the perfect night to start the annual post-spring key questions blog series.

Every team in the country has questions and concerns heading into the off-season, including UNT. Over the next few weeks, we’ll ponder some of them when we are not addressing the news of the day or some other point of interest.

So here goes,

No. 1 — Is Dan McCarney going to be OK?

Being the head football coach at UNT roughly equates to being employed on the bomb squad or repairing power lines. It’s been proven to be a dangerous line of work when it comes to your health. And that doesn’t even take into account the fact that historically UNT has been a place where it is darn near impossible to win. UNT has posted three winning seasons since 1995, all in a row during a run of success under Darrell Dickey from 2001-04.

Dickey had a heart attack in the middle of the 2006 season, missed just one game and was fired weeks later.

And that brings us to McCarney, who by all accounts is a modern marvel of physical fitness. The guy runs the stairs at Apogee Stadium frequently, is a regular at the same neighborhood gym the wife and I frequent and is pretty much a human tank.

A couple of strength and conditioning guys and I were talking about it a couple of days ago. Mac has to be in the top 1 percent of guys his age (he will be 60 this summer) when it comes to physical fitness.

I am absolutely, honestly, dumbfounded that he has had medical problems.

But Mac has had a couple now. He had a stroke last spring and just had quadruple bypass surgery.

UNT officials passed off the original news that Mac had undergone surgery recently like he was having an ingrown toenail removed.

Bypass surgery is pretty serious stuff.

Throw in the previous stroke and one has to question whether or not Mac is in declining health. I don’t think so, but that is a question to consider.

Mac seems to have two gears — sleep and 105 miles an hour, trying to get his team headed the right direction, and he does seem to have UNT pointed up. He finished 5-7 in his first season two years ago (and I am still baffled by how he managed that one considering the dumpster fire he inherited). UNT went 4-8 last year after dropping a few close games (UNT could have easily been 6-6).

Does McCarney find another gear now, late in his career, and back off just a little bit with the pressure building to win? Do his assistants take on a little more responsibility?

I am confident Mac will have the same drive as always. He was back in the office a week after quadruple bypass surgery, which seems pretty remarkable to me.

Maybe nothing changes.

Maybe it is another blip on the radar.

As we head into the off-season, we don’t really know. It might be too quick for McCarney and his family to know how he will bounce back long-term or how he might adjust.

That’s what makes his future such a big question heading into the off-season.

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