Thoughts on UNT talking extension with McCarney

UNT has entered into contract extension talks with Dan McCarney, something we reported in today’s DRC.

Contract extensions are a high-risk, high-reward proposition in college athletics. They typically involve the commitment of millions, even at a Conference USA-level school like UNT.

In this case, it would be well worth the investment for UNT for two reasons:

– The impact McCarney has made at UNT, both in terms of the football program and in terms of community relations.

– The school’s history of what happens when a successful coach leaves town.

We can debate all day just how bad things were when McCarney took over at UNT all day, but the bottom line is this: He has taken a program that had not won more than three games in any of the previous six seasons before his arrival to an 8-4 season in his third year. UNT is headed to a bowl game. UNT has only been to a bowl game seven times in program history. Even if one counts the stay in I-AA, that is a pretty dismal number.

UNT will have to rebuild after this season with so many key seniors leaving, including Zach Orr, Derek Thompson and Brelan Chancellor, among others, but there are signs the Mean Green is starting to recruit better than it has in the past. UNT looks like it will be ready to reload and remain competitive for the foreseeable future.

McCarney has been just as valuable in terms of building enthusiasm for UNT’s program. He speaks to students and is a guy people see around town. Some argue that he doesn’t connect with longtime fans and boosters enough, but I just don’t see it. He puts in the time off the field as well as on it.

Plus McCarney is just a likable guy.

If you don’t like Dan McCarney, there is probably something functionally wrong with you as a human being.

And if there is anything history has taught us it is that UNT ought to hang on for dear life when it has a successful head coach. UNT crashed from 9-2 to 5-6 after Hayden Fry left after the 1978 season, dropped to I-AA five years later and didn’t regain its footing as a Division I program until Darrell Dickey saved the day in 2001 and took UNT to four straight bowl games.

UNT had a run going in men’s basketball under Johnny Jones with six straight seasons with at least 18 wins, five with at least 20 and two NCAA bids. It’s too early to see how it will turn out, but UNT finished 12-20 in an injury-plagued first season under Tony Benford, who appears as if he might have things headed back the right way with a 5-4 start.

UNT just hasn’t been that easy of a place to win over the last 30 or so years in the major sports.

The point is, McCarney has won 17 games in three seasons with the Mean Green. By UNT standards, that makes him wildly successful.

UNT looks like it is going to try to latch on to McCarney for at least a few more years.

That’s the smart thing to do.

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