Villlarreal: UNT in extension talks with McCarney, bowl info

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal said Wednesday that the school is in talks with head coach Dan McCarney on a contract extension.

“I hope it is something that we can bring to fruition much sooner than later,” Villarreal said.

McCarney signed a five-year contract on Dec. 8, 2010, after taking over the program and has led UNT to its best season since 2004. UNT is 8-4 and is expected to receive a bowl invitation late this week. UNT has not played in a bowl game since 2004.

The question now is where UNT ends up.

Brant Ringler, the executive director at Heart of Dallas Bowl, and Derek Inouchi, the director of media information for the Hawaii Bowl, both said Wednesday that UNT is among the teams in consideration for a spot in those bowls.

Inouchi said that Hawaii Bowl officials believe that Rice and UNT will end up playing in the Heart of Dallas and Hawaii bowls, with the teams’ destinations depending largely on the outcome of this weekend’s Conference USA title game between Marshall and Rice.

Ringler said that there is also a possibility that a Conference USA team could end up playing the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth as part of a trade. Both both bowls are operated by ESPN Regional Television. A team from the Mountain West Conference is slated to play in the Armed Forces Bowl against Navy, which is already bowl-eligible at 7-4.

Ringler said that UNT makes sense for the Heart of Dallas Bowl due to location.

A Conference USA spokesperson said Wednesday that the league expects its champion to play in the Liberty Bowl, on New Year’s Eve. The Liberty Bowl gets the first selection of C-USA teams, but does not necessarily have to take the champion.

If Rice beats Marshall in the C-USA title game and plays in the Liberty Bowl, that would likely keep Dallas as a potential landing spot for UNT. If Marshall wins, that could open the possibility of Dallas and Hawaii both considering inviting the same two teams from C-USA.

A C-USA spokesperson said that the league and its bowls would work to place its bowl-eligible teams based on a number of factors, including proximity.

Villarreal, Ringler and Inouchi all said that they would know more about UNT’s likely destination on Saturday or early Sunday.

Stay tuned. And pick up a copy of tomorrow’s paper for more.

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