UNT head football coach Dan McCarney (right) speaks at the UNT Coaches Caravan at the First State Bank in Gainesville on Tuesday. Also pictured as men’s basketball coach Tony Benford, women’s basketball coach Jalie Mitchell and moderator Dave Barnett (right) look on. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Al Key)
The first stop of the UNT coaches’ caravan took place tonight in Gainesville.
The big message?
Show up to the SMU game down in Dallas to kick off the football season Sept. 12 and to the rest of of the games this year and then show up to the games Jalie Mitchell coaches in her first season as the head coach of the UNT women’s basketball team. And while you’re at it, show up to the men’s basketball team’s games as well.
UNT football coach Dan McCarney talked about how difficult it is to recruit players to play in a half empty stadium and also talked about how he brings football recruits to basketball games. He wants to see fans in the stands at those games as well.
Most of all, UNT officials want Mean Green fans to show up when the Mean Green face SMU. UNT is hoping for 15,000 to answer the call and make the season-opener feel like a home game for the Mean Green.
I go into what UNT’s coaches had to say on the subject more in the paper tomorrow.
UNT’s caravan events are part of the plan to increase attendance. UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal talked a little about how they fit into the plan after the event that was Dave Barnett’s first official function as the voice of the Mean Green/moderator.
“Some people who are not familiar with our program get to hear from our coaches,” Villarreal said of the reason for having the series of gatherings. “A lot of people are not aware of the changes that have gone on with new facilities and what is happening on campus. We work in a market that is so big it is hard to get the word out through regular media sources. To be out here in person is meaningful.”
UNT’s coaches also offered up a host of noteworthy tidbits, including …
– UNT’s golf practice facility that we wrote about several months ago is expected to be approved by the board of regents soon.
– UNT is hosting the Conference USA softball tournament next year.
– McCarney said that the SMU game will be a lot tougher than people are anticipating after UNT drubbed the Mustangs 43-6 last season.
– McCarney talked about how he saw a different Andrew McNulty in the spring than what he has seen before. He compared McNulty to Derek Thompson heading into his senior year.
– McCarney said that while McNulty is UNT’s starter heading into the fall, highly regarded JUCO recruit DaMarcus Smith will get meaningful opportunities to compete for the job.
– Summer workouts will start June 8.
– All of UNT’s scholarship players are in a good spot academically, and that includes the incoming signees.
– There were 40 members of the football team that finished with a 3.0 GPA or higher this spring. Wide receiver Daniel Khan, fullback Jared Lynn, linebacker Blake Bean and backup quarterback Quinn Shanbour all posted 4.0s.
– Mitchell is closing in on naming her third assistant coach. Bobby Brasel has already come on as associate head coach, while Kasondra Foreman is also in place as an assistant.
– Tony Benford said the UNT men’s basketball team is built to make a run at the C-USA title, which would be a huge jump from 14-17, including a 8-10 mark in conference play that left UNT in seventh place at the end of the year.
– Benford’s team did have the second longest conference winning streak last season in C-USA play at five games.
– Benford believes incoming high school recruit Rickey Brice, a center out of Arlington Pantego Christian, will have an impact similar Jeremy Combs last season. Combs was one of the top freshmen in the league last season. Brice will arrive at UNT over the summer.
– Benford said UNT will sign two additional post players before next season. He didn’t leave any doubt about it. UNT has eight scholarship players returning and four incoming recruits. That’s 12 players. The NCAA scholarship limit is 13.
– Benford said he will have a new director of basketball operations in place to replace Jeff Luster within the next few days. Benford said he and Luster mutually agreed to part ways.