It's time for the student body that voted for a hike on their fees and the administration that made improving their athletic department (i.e. football team), athletic director Rick Villarreal and head football coach Dan McCarney to get some love - they did it. Or are doing it.
By defeating UNLV in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 in the Cotton Bowl, UNT would finish 9-4.
Once at the bottom of the garbage can of FBS teams in Texas, the Mean Green are in the process of remaking their image and are now in a bowl game for the first time in ... 45 years. Wait, that's not right - it just feels like it. The last time UNT was in a bowl was 2004, and this appearance snaps a nine-year drought - the sixth-longest in the nation.
"There is no such thing as a bad bowl game," McCarney said on a conference call Sunday night.
First of all, that's a load. There are tons of bad bowl games, but McCarney is right in this case. There is no bad bowl for North Texas. The job he has done turning UNT into a winner is not too different than the success he had at Iowa State.
Now it's time for a fan base that was broken, disinterested or ambivalent to show up. There is no way the 92,000-seat Cotton Bowl is going to be full for the Heart of Dallas Bowl, but UNT's fan base needs to buy their allotment of tickets and demonstrate to future bowl representatives they will go places to watch their team. Barring another hellish ice storm, the game is too close to skip.
"I'm challenging them. ... They challenged us and we accepted," Villarreal said. "To be honest, I say, 'Challenge', I'm going to invite them back. We didn't give them a reason to come back for a long time. The response has been great (for this bowl game). We need to have a great turnout. It will be all about numbers and I expect big numbers."
Reaching the Heart of Dallas Bowl is just a part of the process of turning UNT into a brand name.
Winning that bowl will help.
This was all part of the plan, and to their credit UNT is executing it.
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