Spoke with North Texas coach Todd Dodge last night and there is no way to come out of that conversation other than feeling awfully bad for this man for the season he's already had to endure. The Mean Green have already lost nine starters to season-ending injuries, including the top two quarterbacks.
The third, son Riley Dodge, was moved back to QB from WR after the first two went down. Now he has a broken left wrist and will only be available sparingly.
Then FR WR Josh Rake, was recently killed in a one-car accident.
Dodge sounds OK, but realistic about his situation. It is almost assumed that unless the Mean Green turnaround this season Dodge will be fired at season's end. The Mean Green are 6-35 in his tenure.
Here are some highlights from the conversation.
Mac Engel: How have you and your team dealt with the death of Josh Rake?
Todd Dodge: Since last Thursday night at 8 when the Denton Police told me Josh had been in a wreck it's been emotional without being emotional. It's heart breaking. I've known him and his twin brother, Matt, since the fourth grade. They came all the way through the program when I was at Southlake. Riley knew them both very well. Going into (last week's game) was very hard because you couldn't stop to grieve. Riley took it very hard. I had a pretty emotional team prior to Josh's situation because of all the injuries.
ME: What do you tell your team to get through this?
TD: There are things that are going to happen in life that you can't control and to worry about the things you can control. I have used that a lot. I don't want the players to feel like we are snakebit.
ME: Have you noticed all of this taking its toll?
TD: Over the long haul of five weeks they've done a tremendous job. But I think it got to them when we were at West Point and we lost our seventh, eighth and ninth starters to season-ending injuries. I could see as the game went on that the spirit was being sapped out of our team. But we rallied back the next week. Even through all of this, our team expects to win.
ME: What is the status of your son, Riley, to play quarterback now that he has a broken left wrist?
TD: He will be available. But we will start (SO) Chase Blaine. Riley has a cast and he has some availibility of his thumb and fingers. He will have surgery next Tuesday, and there is a pretty good possibility he will have a screw put in and he could possibly be back for the latter part of the season.
ME: Is this job tougher than you thought it would be?
TD: I knew it was going to be challenging, but any time you take a job regardless if it's high school to high school or high school to college you don't fully know the extent of the task until you're in the middle of it. It's the second year that hurt - I felt we took a step backwards. Last year I thought we made some headway and this year has been crazy.
My expectations are that there are some special things that can be done here at North Texas, whether or not I'll be the head coach that's to be seen but I'm not worried about that.
ME: How has coaching Riley been at UNT?
TD: If someone was in my shoes doing this again and asked my advice, 'Would you have your son come play for you at the collegiate level?' I would probably say no; I wouldn't do that again. Let me preface that by saying that for him. He turned down a scholarship to play at the University of Texas to play for his father. All he has said is that he loves North Texas. It's a unique situation; not many times in the history of college football does the son play for his dad at quarterback. In high school, it happens all the time. I just feel bad for him because he's such a competitor and such a great teammate. Just, as a father, it's not something you want to see your kids go through.
ME: Your athletic director has hinted that unless the program begins to win there will be a change at your job; do you think you're going to be fired?
TD: He made it clear to me in a meeting and he made it clear outside of the meeting. That's fine. Frankly what was put on me and my staff were expectations that come from inside these offices and our locker room. That's what we expect - to win. I expect us to get to where we need to be.
I had no problem going into this season with that ultimatum, if that's what you want to call it. I'm a competitor and I'm going to be accountable and I know how things work in this business.
- Mac Engel
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