DENTON -– University of North Texas Head Football Coach Dan McCarney just completed his third season at North Texas, and the turnaround under his leadership has been remarkable.
“When we got here, they were 1-16 at home. 1-16,” McCarney recalled.
“When we brought him [in], he was known for doing this, immediately,” said North Texas Athletic Director Rick Villarreal. “He changed the culture of our kids about how to approach life, how to approach academics, and how they approached the things they were doing.”
“Not one player has ever been part of a winning season in college, not one player has ever been to a bowl game,” McCarney said. “To do that and to share it and to have this opportunity, that means more than I can put into words.”
In their first year in Conference USA, the school won eight games, the most in 10 years for UNT and the most for McCarney since he was the head coach at Iowa State 13 years ago.
Now they're waiting to see which bowl will give them an opportunity to play one more game.
“Oh, it means everything -- that's why you play the game of college football is to be able to play in a game like that,” North Texas quarterback Derek Thompson said. “There is no such thing as a bad bowl game, so we're excited about the opportunity and to get to a bowl game. It’s a great testament to what we've done this year.”
Since out freshman year, we've been talking about it and to be the guys to do it and for it to happen, it's pretty good,” says North Texas running back Brandin Byrd. “It means a lot only for us and the team, but for the community and to Denton, the whole area, it means a lot.”
"It's a feel-good story - I mean, it's all good stuff - and the opportunity to play in a bowl game, represent your university, it's rare and you love it and it's part of it," McCarney said, "and you miss out on it when you're not in a bowl game."
The last time North Texas went to a bowl game was nine years ago, in the 2004 New Orleans Bowl. It's been a long time, but they should find out this weekend where their next bowl game will be.