North Texas made the right call to go with Dan McCarney as its head coach. It was clear the Mean Green needed somebody with head coaching experience after the Todd Dodge experiment failed.
McCarney not only has that, he has winning in his background and lists former North Texas coach Hayden Fry as his mentor.
In fact, Fry's two sons were at the news conference officially announcing McCarney's hiring on Tuesday. McCarney thanked a long list of influential coaches in his life, including Fry and Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, along with Florida coach Urban Meyer. There is no question McCarney has learned from some of the best, and he had some success at Iowa State, where he coached from 1995-2006.
His first team had gone winless the season before he got there. Though it took five years to rebuild, McCarney ended up going to five bowl games from 2000-2005.
"Dan McCarney is the embodiment of everything we were looking for when we began the process of looking for the head coach that was going to return North Texas to a championship caliber program,” North Texas athletic director Rick Villarreal said. “He has a proven record of success at the highest level of college football and has an infectious energy and passion that will motivate student-athletes, alumni faculty and the community to new levels of commitment for success. With this hire, we have a person who will be the face of our athletics department and a tremendous ambassador for this university.”
The road ahead is not going to be easy, though. North Texas is coming off a 3-9 season, and has won a total of 13 games in the past six seasons. The last winning season -- 2004, which is also the last time the Mean Green went to a bowl game. If McCarney is anything, he is passionate and enthusiastic, and that should help now that North Texas is set to open a new football stadium next season. McCarney vowed to fill the stadium or "die trying."
He also described a commitment to getting back to playing solid defense, a specialty of his. He spent the past three seasons as a defensive assistant at Florida, and also served as defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. After he left Iowa State, McCarney may have wondered whether he would be a head coach again. He recounted a story about his father, who died three years ago.
"He mentioned to me four weeks before he passed. He said, 'Dan, you're going to be a head coach again. You're going to be a winning head coach again,'" McCarney said. "I know he's smiling down on us. I'm really excited about this opportunity."
Now the work begins.