Editor’s note: I came across this post that I wrote in December of 2006 on my Toddler Top 10 site. I have since imported all of those posts into CollegeFootballTopTen.com v. 2.0 with the help of WordPress. Apparently, I never published the post. I guess I wasn’t quite ready to publish it. I think it is interesting to read this just a little over a year later. The post is about the hiring of Todd Dodge at the University of North Texas. Dodge certainly struggled in his first year, however a couple of other Sun Belt teams defeated teams from BCS conferences. Also, the two teams that I compared North Texas to, Nebraska and Texas A & M have since hired new coaches firing the successors of Frank Solich and R. C. Slocum. (April 16, 2008)
A few weeks ago I was ready to write about how I thought the firing of Darrel Dickey at The University of North Texas was wrong. I was upset because Dickey led UNT to four Sun Belt Conferences Championships and four trips to the Sun Belt Conference’s New Orleans Bowl in a conference where member football teams do not have anyone following their recruiting news because their is nothing to follow. Members of the Sun Belt are terribly underfinanced, underbudgeted, under–you name it. They have to play nonconference schedules against top teams from the Big 12, SEC, and whoever else they can find to get the money to sustain their programs. Therefore, when many of those teams get to conference play, they usually have a losing record. Hence, many times the winner of the Sun Belt had a 6-5 record in years past. You see, it’s tough when your in the Sun Belt conference.
It would have been easier to criticize the decision if UNT would have made a dumb hiring move. But they didn’t. I see in this much of what I saw when Nebraska fired Frank Solich and Texas A&M fired R. C. Slocum. These programs fired what seemed to be good men who cared about their players and won games. Unfortunately, when the championships stopped coming, they were fired. However, those schools made good moves in who they hired to replace those men. It has worked out really well. Well I think that UNT did the same thing. They hired High School coach Todd Dodge. Todd Dodge has been the coach at Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, TX. What a job he has done. In the coming three to four years you will be hearing some names of his former players. In fact, you already have. Chase Daniel was the QB for Missouri this year and had a memorable first year as a starter.
With the recent success of former high school coaches in Division I A college football, it is possible that Dodge can do the job. Houston head coach Art Briles and Arkansas Offensive Coordinator Gus Malzahn have been successful this year. Houston won the Conference USA Championship. Arkansas won the SEC West Title with Malzahn helping make Darren McFadden a surprising 2nd for the Heisman Trophy by using McFadden at different positions including QB in the much publicized “Wildcat” formation. Briles, just a few years ago was coaching at Sephenville High School in Texas, and Malzahn was the head coach for the Springdale High School Bulldogs, AR, just one year ago.
Dodge might be better than both. It really is not a surprise that he has this opportunity. Dodge coached at a High School program that has more emphasis and pressure than most college football programs from the Division I-AA level down, and some at the Division I A level. Before he came to Southlake, the Dragons were already pretty good. They won in the 80′s and 90′s with a run oriented option attack. He changed how they played offense and continued the tradition of winning. He started using the spread offense. Now, one can go watch a high school football game in Texas, and chances are one of the two teams will be running an offense that is similar to Dodges’ at Southlake. The Dragons have won two Mythological National Titles. Dodge knows how to bring excitement and honor to a program.
Dodge’s success at UNT will not only benefit the Mean Green. It can benefit the entire Sun Belt Conference. If he is successful, not just in conference play but outside of it as well, then the other programs will have to keep up. The level of football being played in the Sun Belt will eventually rise. Then, someone might be talking about a Sun Belt team crashing the BCS Party someday. Sounds crazy? It might be. However, with the help of a high school football coach who coaches a team which has a mythological creature (the Dragons) for a mascot and two Mythological High School National Championships, something that seems so, well, mythological, just might become very non-mythological.