Earlier this month it was reported a contract extension for North Texas head coach Dan McCarney was imminent. A couple of weeks later, the extension has been inked.
McCarney has signed a five-year contract extension with North Texas. The new contract is worth $3.625 million, making him one of the highest paid coaches in Conference USA. According to a database of coaching salaries compiled by USA Today, McCarney was the eighth highest paid coach in Conference USA in 2013. With a couple of coaching changes in the conference and with the new contract in place, McCarney will move up a few spots in the coaching salary ranking in the conference.
“I’m extremely appreciative of [North Texas AD] Rick Villarreal and President Neal Smatresk for their support and loyalty,” said coach McCarney in a statement released by the university. “Our collective vision is to keep the Mean Green football program rolling, to strive for new heights and to add special chapters to the history books each year. I am so honored each day to lead this program at such a special university and community.”
Before McCarney arrived at North Texas, the Mean Green were not so mean. The program played through six losing seasons before McCarney was named head coach in 2011. In 2013 North Texas moved in to Conference USA and ended the season on a hot streak to play in to the conference championship conversation and ended the season with a bowl victory in the Heart of Dallas Bowl against UNLV.
After leading North Texas to the first nine-win season since 2003 and the first bowl victory since 2002, head coach Dan McCarney deserves to have a contract extension. According to the Associated Press, a five-year extension is imminent with lawyers reviewing the terms of the contract. Once approved, McCarney will be inked through the 2018 season at North Texas.
”What they did was, in putting a contract in place really, is showing appreciation for changing the culture at this place. It’s showing appreciation for how we do it, and the way we’ve done it on the field, in the classroom, in Denton, and how we handle things,” McCarney said according to the Associated Press. ”I think it’s a sign of support for all of my guys, all of my staff, my program, our program. … I appreciate that opportunity to stay here. I’m not looking to leave. I love this place.”
North Texas suffered through six straight losing seasons before McCarney took over the program in 2011. The Mean Green immediately improved on their season win total in his first season with five wins, two more than the previous season. North Texas took a step back in McCarney’s second season, but they roared back in their first season as a member in Conference USA in 2013. North Texas won six of their final seven games in the regular season and capped the year with a bowl victory over UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl.
The contract extension has been believed to be in the works since the bowl victory, even though McCarney still has two years remaining on his current contract. The faith being shown by the university in McCarney and his staff is not to be overlooked. North Texas is a program that has long been attempting to break out of the shadows of larger universities within the state, which is difficult. Moving to Conference USA is a step in the right direction for the program, and with upcoming realignment changes impacting the conference it is not out of line to be thinking about North Texas as a program achieving sustained success within the conference for years to come.
The challenge for McCarney now is to build on what happened in the 2013 season and find ways to continue what worked and improve what did not.
North Texas (6-3, 4-1 CUSA) scored 21 unanswered points en route t a 28-16 victory over Rice (6-3, 4-1 CUSA) Thursday night. With the win North Texas has become eligible to play in a postseason bowl game for the first time since 2004, and for the first time under head coach Dan McCarney.
North Texas trailed Rice 16-7 midway through the second quarter, but Antoinne Jimmerson’s 42-yard run brought the Mean Green to within two points and a 65-yard punt return by Brelan Chancellor gave North Texas a 21-16 lead going in to halftime. Derek Thompson completed a 46-yard pass to Jimmerson in the third quarter to push the lead in to double digits and the defense took care of everything from there. North Texas forced three turnovers in the game and held Rice to just two third down conversions out of 13.
This has been a long time coming for North Texas. Since their last bowl trip in the 2004 season, North Texas has had eight straight losing seasons heading in to 2013. With six wins, North Texas is guaranteed at least a .500 regular season record. In McCarney’s third year n the job, North Texas has now set a career high for wins in a season for their head coach as well. North Texas won five games in McCarney’s first year and four games last season.
This North Texas team is playing with a new energy and confidence that has been missing for some time. A shot to play for the Conference USA championship is still within reach, but North Texas lost a head-to-head match-up to Tulane earlier in the season which gives Tulane the upper hand right now. Tulane is undefeated in Conference USA play and would have to lose twice if North Texas can manage to win the remainder of their games. That last part looks very possible.
North Texas ends their regular season at home against UTEP and UT-San Antonio and then on the road against defending conference champion Tulsa. The combined record of those final three opponents is 6-16 and the three sit on the bottom of the Conference USA West Division. The last time North Texas won nine games in a season was 2003.