UNT is set to debut "Dodgeball" at Oklahoma on Saturday. Figure this to be a rude indoctrination for the Mean Green's new spread offense and new coach Todd Dodge. If they can leave with anything of value, more power.
Had a great talk with Dodge earlier this week about what he expects and where he's come from. His root message, he hopes, is sinking in with all the UNT constituencies before the first snap.
"You may have to roll with us a little bit," he said. "But we have a plan to get it done." He predicts some hard times. He refuses to boil expectations down to a specific win-loss record, though he's asked to do so all the time. "To me, it's about a conference championship. I don't know how else to coach a team. Why can't we win it?"
Dodge is imploring the student body to invest five Saturdays of their fall semester into UNT football. He believes any grassroots effort to make it special begins with them. Traditionally, UNT students and their rampant apathy are the biggest obstacle to, well, tradition. Dodge wants desperately to reach out and connect with this sector.
His message to them: Don't jump ship and start beating up on the program at the first sign of trouble -- please.
As for what makes Dodge Dodge, look no further than 1984, when he "lost" a grossly insensitive Austin American-Statesman readers' poll over who should start at Texas, him or Bret Stafford. No need for every ugly detail (there were many), but his treatment by UT fans and media that year should go down as some of the worst ever heaped on a college quarterback or any athlete -- struggling or not.
So, when Dodge is protective about his program, you sort of get why.