UNT picks up commitment from OL Dakoda Newman

North Texas picked up a commitment tonight from offensive lineman Dakoda Newman.

Newman is a center at Mansfield Timberview. There isn’t a whole lot about him out there.

Here is Newman’s recruiting profile on 247 Sports and his Hudl highlights.

Newman is a big guy at 320 pounds and probably projects as an interior lineman.

I swapped messages with Newman tonight. He wanted to talk things over with his parents and coaches before talking about his decision to commit to UNT publicly.

I should have more on him in the next couple of days.

What we learned — C-USA West is stacked, realignment is dead (for now)

North Texas will be a part of a tight race down the stretch in Conference USA's West Division. (JDenton Recoord-Chronicle/KJeff Woo)

North Texas will be a part of a tight race down the stretch in Conference USA’s West Division. (JDenton Recoord-Chronicle/KJeff Woo)

Mondays are usually a day we have a lot to talk about, from how North Texas fared in its last game to what happened in the rest of Conference USA.

That changed a little with UNT on a bye week, but there are still a few points worth going over today, including the fact that C-USA’s West Division appears to be stacked at the top.

Louisiana Tech won its third straight by knocking off UMass, UTSA continued its surprising season by beating Rice, while Southern Miss hung with LSU early before being blown out.

When it all shook out, UNT, LA Tech, Southern Miss and UTSA are all sitting at 2-1 in league play.

UNT is 3-3 and has a shot to get to a bowl, but will have to win at least three of its last six. The Mean Green have a host of tough games coming up beginning with a trip to Army this weekend.

The Mean Green are a 16- to 18-point underdog in their game against the Black Knights, depending on where one looks.

UNT also still has games with the three other teams tied atop C-USA’s West Division. The Mean Green also have just two home games left.

UNT has improved throughout the season. What transpired over the weekend showed the Mean Green will have to continue that trend to ensure they play in a bowl.

And in other news …

We learned today that the Big 12 will not expand.

That’s probably what UNT should have been hoping to see happen. If the Big 12 had expanded, it could have set off a new round of realignment that quite frankly the school was probably not in position to capitalize on.

UNT is improving in football, but still has posted just one winning season in the last four years in the three high profile sports — football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball.

That streak might end this year, but the bottom line is UNT still has a long way to go. A pair of UNT consultants reviewed the state of the program this summer and issued a scathing report.

Whether that report provided a clear and accurate picture is up for debate, but it wouldn’t have been a big selling point if UNT was competing against a school like Middle Tennessee for a spot in the American Athletic Conference. MTSU could point to a huge upset of Michigan State in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, a highly successful women’s basketball program and a football program that is a bowl regular.

UNT has played in a bowl game just once in the last 11 years.

Now UNT can go about aggressively improving its program under new athletic director Wren Baker and hope that it has its ducks in a row if the issue of conference realignment comes up again.


Buckle up — It’s Big 12 expansion (or not) day

The Big 12 board of directors is meeting today in Dallas to discuss expansion. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will appear at a press conference this evening to discuss the league’s plans. (Associated Press/Tony Gutierrez)

The Big 12 board of directors is meeting today in Dallas to discuss expansion. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will appear at a press conference this evening to discuss the league’s plans. (Associated Press/Tony Gutierrez)

After months of talks, presentations and endless speculation, today is finally the day. We are about to find out what the Big 12 plans are as far as expansion goes.

Well, maybe.

The league’s presidents are meeting today down in Dallas to mull over the options. Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News reported that all options are still on the table heading into today’s meetings.

The Big 12 could expand by adding teams. Houston and Cincinnati are the popular guesses. The league could also stand pat at 10 teams.

The decision is one that should interest UNT fans because of the potential trickle down affect that we have pointed out here before.

If the Big 12 were to take Houston and Cincinnati from the American Athletic Conference, the AAC could respond. Middle Tennessee, one of UNT’s rivals in Conference USA, has already reached out to the AAC about joining the league.

UNT could try to make a play for a spot in the conference, but its chances would be pretty much nil with SMU already in the league.

If the AAC did grab a couple of C-USA schools, C-USA would have to decide if it wanted to reload. The Sun Belt would be the obvious place to look considering a big chunk of C-USA is made up of former Belt schools, including UNT.

The general consensus is that the Big 12 will likely stick with its current lineup, or at least table discussions of adding schools until later.

Whatever the league decides to do, it will have a big impact on the landscape of college football in the region and UNT.

The Big 12 has a press conference scheduled for 5:30 p.m. today.  News of what the decision is will likely leak just before that.

Stay tuned.

The Sunday leftovers

North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson (26) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown in a win over Marshall. UNT is now in a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA's West Division (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas running back Jeffrey Wilson (26) celebrates with his teammates after scoring a touchdown in a win over Marshall. UNT is now in a four-way tie for first place in Conference USA’s West Division (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

It’s Sunday night and time for the leftovers, that time of the week where we pick back through the events of the weekend, reheat the good stuff — and some of the bad — while hopefully putting it all in perspective.

The UNT football team was off this weekend, but there was still quite a bit going on in Conference USA football, and with the school’s other programs.

There is now a four-way tie atop C-USA’s West Division with UNT, Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss and UTSA all sitting at 2-1.

UNT’s two conference wins are over Rice, which is 0-6, and Marshall, which is 2-4. The Mean Green are 3-3 overall.

The road will get a lot tougher for UNT in the last six games of the season. UNT will face 4-2 Army this week and still has games against the other three teams that are 2-1 in the West.

Army beat Lafayette 62-7 in their last game. The Black Knights are an option team and run the ball efficiently.

UNT is still in several bowl projections, including ESPN’s, where the Mean Green are projected to head to the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl

And in other news from around UNT …

– The UNT women’s soccer team got a little help over the last couple of days as far as its run at another C-USA title. Florida Atlantic beat Western Kentucky on Friday. WKU is still atop the conference standings with 18 points with Charlotte and FAU tied for second at 16 points with UNT and Rice sitting just behind with 15 points.

The key difference is WKU and FAU have both played eight conference games. Charlotte and Rice have both played seven. UNT had a game postponed due to weather conditions and has only played six games.

The point is UNT will have the opportunity to pick up a few wins down the stretch and jump some of the teams above the Mean Green in the standings.

– The UNT volleyball team was on a bit of a roll coming into the weekend and extended its winning streak to three by sweeping UTEP on Friday. That run came to an end with an epic five-set loss to streaking Florida Atlantic on Sunday. UNT lost the first two sets before coming back to win the next two.

UNT was down 11-4 in the final set before charging back to get within 14-13. FAU closed the match out with a block from Maja Ristic and Abbi Reid on match point. Holly Milam led UNT with 16 kills.

UNT (10-12) fell to 4-3 in conference play, but is still in pretty good shape as far as finishing in the top eight to make the C-USA tournament. FAU has now won five straight matches.

So, what’s going on in C-USA today?

Middle Tennessee safety Darryl Randolph (29) tackles North Texas wide receiver Tyler Wilson earlier this season at Apogee Stadium. MTSu takes on Western Kentucky today in one of several games that are of interest to UNT fans. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

Middle Tennessee safety Darryl Randolph tackles North Texas wide receiver Tyler Wilson earlier this season at Apogee Stadium. MTSu takes on Western Kentucky today in one of several games that are of interest to UNT fans. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas is off this week following an upset win over Marshall that evened the Mean Green’s record at 3-3.

There are plenty of games of interest in Conference USA today, though, including a big showdown in the East Division.

Here’s a look at what might be worth keeping track of for UNT fans.

UTSA at Rice, 6 p.m.

C-USA’s West Division has a long jam of teams sitting at 2-1 at the top. UNT is 2-1 in league play. Louisiana Tech and Southern Miss are also 2-1. UTSA is off to an impressive start, just like UNT, and can also get to 2-1 win a win over reeling Rice. The Mean Green squeaked out a double overtime win over the Owls. UTSA (2-3) stunned Southern Miss last week. The Roadrunners will be in business at 3-3 with a win over the Owls.

Western Kentucky at Middle Tennessee, 1:30 p.m.

Middle Tennessee (4-1) handed UNT is one loss in C-USA play so far and at 2-0 is sitting pretty in conference play. The 100 miles of hate game could put WKU (3-3, 1-1) back in the East Division race. UNT fans who have visions of a trip to the C-USA title game dancing in their heads will be interested in this one. If the Blue Raiders win this game, they will be a big favorite to reach the title game.

Louisiana Tech at UMass, 2:30 p.m.

LA Tech has recovered from a tough start due to a brutal schedule that included games against Arkansas (one the Bulldogs almost won), Texas Tech and MTSU to get to 3-3 and 2-1 in league play. LA Tech has beaten UTEP and WKU the last two weeks. UMass is 1-5 and shouldn’t pose much of a challenge for the Bulldogs. LA Tech has winnable games against Florida International and and Rice following its trip to UMass. It is entirely within the realm of possibility that the Bulldogs could be 6-3 overall, 4-1 in league play and riding a five-game winning streak heading into a game against UNT on Nov. 5.

Devlin Isadore to UNT — what it means



North Texas picked up a commitment from Navarro College quarterback Devlin Isadore yesterday.

We covered the news briefly on the blog and will have a story in tomorrow’s paper.

What is a whole lot more interesting at this point is what the addition of Isadore tells us about where UNT is headed.

The fact UNT was in the market for a JUCO quarterback at this point is pretty telling. The Mean Green started off with Alabama transfer Alec Morris as its starter before turning to freshman Mason Fine.

Fine hasn’t put up huge numbers, but he has handled the job remarkably well. The freshman is a big reason UNT is sitting at 3-3. He looks like UNT’s quarterback for the foreseeable future. What is clearly a bigger concern at this point is what UNT has behind him.

Fine has been durable, but he is still 5-11 and 175 pounds. He’s an injury risk anyway one looks at it.

UNT has a veteran player behind him in Alec Morris, but the Alabama transfer is at the end of his career as a fifth-year senior. Texarkana Texas High product Cade Pearson will arrive over the summer and the Mean Green signed JUCO product Devin O’Hara last season.

Former walk-on Quinn Shanbour is also a junior this season.

UNT elected to go out and sign Isadore, who could be facing ACL surgery, anyway.

The Mean Green clearly want another quarterback to fill the void that will be left by Morris once the season is over and provide some legitimate competition for Fine.

It’s pretty clear at this point that competition isn’t going to be coming from O’Hara, or anyone else on the roster.

Isadore gives UNT an insurance policy, and maybe a whole lot more. He also will give the Mean Green a chance to redshirt Pearson.

JC quarterback Devlin Isadore commits to UNT

Devlin Isadore, a highly regarded quarterback from Navarro College, committed to North Texas today.

Isadore got off to a great start in junior college this season and was averaging 256.3 passing yards a game before suffering a knee injury. He will receive a second opinion tomorrow, but could have a torn ACL.

Isadore believes he will be able to recover in time for spring practice at UNT.

UNT was the only school that offered Isadore, but Louisiana-Lafayette and Stephen F. Austin also showed interest.

“The coaching staff made me feel wanted,” Isadore said Thursday after committing. “I felt at home.”

Check back for more later.

UNT midterm football report

North Texas coach Seth Littrell has the Mean Green at 3-3 at the midway point of his first season with the Mean Green. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas coach Seth Littrell has the Mean Green at 3-3 at the midway point of his first season with the Mean Green. (Denton Record-Chronicle/Jeff Woo)

North Texas is in the midst of a bye week as it arrives at the midway point of Seth Littrell’s first season as the Mean Green’s head coach.

So far, the 2016 season has been a huge success. UNT is 3-3 after finishing 1-11 last year. It’s not out of the question that the Mean Green could win six games to become bowl-eligible.

There are a host of key developments that have taken place along the way. With that in mind, here are some of the key storylines at the halfway point:

1. The Littrell hire looks awfully good right about now

Few people would have guessed at the beginning of the season that UNT would be 3-3 halfway through the season. The Mean Green didn’t really have anywhere to go but up after a 1-11 finish a year ago and are clearly on the rise at this point. UNT does have a win over an FCS team in Bethune-Cookman and a terrible Rice team that is 0-5 in a game that went to double-overtime. The level of competition has to be taken into account, but Littrell’s players have clearly bought into where the program is headed. And it appears to be headed up.

2. Mason Fine is this team’s MVP

Mason Fine isn’t putting up huge numbers this season. He’s throwing for 163.5 yards a game and has three touchdown passes. What he has done remarkably well is manage the game and put UNT is good situations. Fine’s performance has been huge considering how much UNT has struggled at quarterback since Derek Thompson graduated after the 2013 season. The Mean Green wouldn’t be 3-3 without Fine.

3. Remember how bad UNT was defensively last season?

One of the big problems UNT dealt with last season was a terrible defense that couldn’t stop anybody. UNT allowed 41.2 points a game. UNT quickly turned the corner under new coordinators Mike Ekeler and Troy Reffett. The Mean Green are allowing just 25.8 points a game and are doing it with largely the same cast of players. That’s pretty remarkable considering the level UNT played at a year ago.

4. UNT’s recruiting class has outperformed its ranking

UNT’s recruiting class was not particularly highly rated coming into the season. The Mean Green’s group was ranked just ninth in 247 Sports rankings of C-USA classes, and that was with linebacker William Johnson, defensive end Raveon Hoston and offensive lineman Cody Hayes. None of those players qualified academically. UNT’s class has come through to help in a dramatic way thanks to players like Joshua Wheeler (3.5 sack), cornerback Eric Jenkins (5 passes defended, 1 interception) and Rico Bussey Jr. (6 catches, 40 yards), not to mention Fine.


C-USA women’s media day with Mitchell video

Conference USA media days wrapped up this morning.

North Texas coach Jalie Mitchell spoke with the media and answered a few questions for me for the video at the top of this post.

There is a sense of excitement about the UNT women’s team this year after the Mean Green jumped to 11 wins in Mitchell’s first season from five the year before.

UNT lost Acheil Tac, its best post player, but has key guards Kelsey Criner, Candice Adams and Terra Ellison back. The Mean Green also have a host of Division I transfers eligible for the first time this season.

Criner led UNT with an average of 13.0 points a game, while Adams added 11.0 and Ellison 10.1.

“I am very excited about Year 2,” Mitchell said. “You never know what it is going to bring until it comes, but we have seniors coming back, will have our transfers eligible and a good freshman class. We are more talented and deeper, but are also young.”

A couple of key notes:

– UNT is expecting big things from Collin County College transfer forward Micayla Buckner. She should fill the void left by Tac’s departure. It makes sense. She’s a high-end talent that started at Baylor.

– Mitchell expects her Division I transfers who will be eligible to play key roles this season. She wouldn’t say how many of them will start, but did say some will be in the lineup. All three are guards — Terriell Bradley (Kansas), Stabressa McDaniel (Minnesota) and Tyara Warren (West Virginia).

– Mitchell said this year’s goal is to win at least 20 games. It’s a set goal that won’t change on a year-to-year basis.

MGB video: Tony Benford talks about where UNT stands at C-USA media day

The first session of Conference USA media day was this afternoon in Irving, where the league’s men’s coaches talked about where their teams stand heading into the season.

North Texas coach Tony Benford was on hand to talk about the Mean Green. UNT was picked to finish 10th among 14 teams in the league after ending up 12-20 last season.

Benford talks about the reasons he is confident his team will exceed expectations in the video at the top of this post.