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North Texas News Stories


North Texas News Stories

From the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle:

For his $1 million gift, mattress mogul wants field named for coach

By BRETT VITO / Denton Record-Chronicle

DENTON ? Houston businessman and North Texas athletic booster Jim McIngvale criticized the school's administration for firing Darrell Dickey and requested that UNT name its practice field after the outgoing head coach.

UNT has plans to name the field after McIngvale, who donated $1 million toward construction of the Mean Green Athletic Center in 2004.

McIngvale made his request in a full-page advertisement addressed to the school's administration in Sunday's editions of the Denton Record-Chronicle.

In the ad, McIngvale voices his support for Dickey ? whom he believes was unjustly fired ? and asks that his $1 million donation be redirected to UNT's One O'Clock Lab Band if his request is not honored.

"I just think both sides of the story need to be told," said McIngvale, a former UNT linebacker who owns Gallery Furniture in Houston. "People need to know that you need to have big money to get big wins. You don't go to a gun fight with a knife."

McIngvale paid nearly $5,000 for the ad.

Dickey was fired Wednesday with three games left in his ninth season at UNT, a tenure that has had highs and lows. UNT won the Sun Belt title and played in the New Orleans Bowl in four straight seasons from 2001 to '04 and posted a 26-game winning streak in conference games.

UNT has struggled to build on that success the last two seasons. The Mean Green went 2-9 last season and is 3-7 this year following a win over Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday.

Dickey is 42-62 overall at UNT.

UNT has faced nine nationally ranked teams since Dickey took over in 1998 and has not played more than five home games in a season during that time. Dickey has described the Mean Green's circumstances as some of the most difficult in the country.

He has declined to comment on his firing so he can focus on helping his team finish the season on a positive note. But Dickey said he appreciated McIngvale's comments. Dickey was dismissed just weeks after he had a heart attack Oct. 12.

"A year ago, Mr. McIngvale made a very generous $1 million investment because he believed in what we are doing," Dickey said. "He is entitled to his opinion. It's nice to hear that people have some good things to say."

McIngvale said he has supported the Mean Green for the last several years because of his friendship with Dickey. In 2004, McIngvale paid for UNT's entire team to travel to the funeral of quarterback Andrew Smith, who died in a car accident days before the beginning of fall practice.

UNT athletic director Rick Villarreal declined multiple requests for comment, but UNT president Gretchen Bataille said she has no problem with renaming the Mean Green's practice field after Dickey.

"We appreciate the funding McIngvale has provided," Bataille said. "Donors can ask to name facilities after anyone. If he wants to name it after coach Dickey, that's fine."

UNT regent Burle Pettit said he was disappointed that McIngvale might discontinue his support of the athletic program but that the decision was the right one for the future of the program.

Jeff Roeling, a 1986 UNT graduate and athletic department booster, echoed that sentiment.

"Coach Dickey is an important part of the history of North Texas football," Roeling said. "I would go to a party to celebrate his career today, but we needed a change to excite fans and move the program forward."
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From the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle:

By BRETT VITO / Denton Record-Chronicle

DENTON ? Southlake Carroll coach and former UNT assistant Todd Dodge said Monday he would consider taking a college coaching job after the current season.

Riley Dodge, a junior quarterback at Carroll, has thrown for 2,628 yards and 36 touchdowns this season.

Southlake Carroll coach Todd Dodge said he hasn't been contacted by UNT officials, but he would be willing to talk at season's end. "Riley and I are looking forward to this window of opportunity, but it is not set in stone that I won't leave before he graduates," Dodge said. "I look at it as pouring myself into each season. If an opportunity comes after the season, then I will look at it."

Dodge has been mentioned as a potential candidate to become the next coach at UNT, which fired Darrell Dickey on Wednesday with three games left in his ninth season. Dodge said he hasn't been contacted by UNT officials, but he would be willing to talk after Carroll's season is over.

Dodge, who was UNT's offensive coordinator from 1992-93, said he would like to get back into college coaching at some point.
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From the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle:

Dickey's buyout set at $524,167

By BRETT VITO / Denton Record-Chronicle

DENTON ? UNT has determined it will have to pay head football coach Darrell Dickey $524,167 to buy out the remainder of his contract that runs through the 2009 season, UNT spokeswoman Deborah Leliaert said Tuesday. Dickey was fired on Nov. 8 with three years left on his deal.

UNT will pay Dickey one year's base salary within 30 days of his termination date and will then pay out the rest of the contract in
monthly installments.
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From the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle:

UTEP coordinator interested in UNT job

By BRETT VITO / Denton Record-Chronicle

DENTON ? UTEP offensive coordinator Eric Price expressed interest in UNT's opening for a head football coach Tuesday, less than a week after Darrell Dickey was fired in the middle of his ninth season with the Mean Green.

Price, 40, arrived at UTEP along with his father, Mike Price, the Miners' head coach, in December 2003. Eric Price has yet to be contacted by UNT officials.

"UNT is a solid program with good facilities," Price said. "They have a chance to win and have in the past. The new coach will be able to recruit Texas kids, which is a good deal. It would be a great opportunity."
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Anytime someone solicits themselves its not the right flow...they will go after him if he is worth his salt...
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From the Denton, Texas, Record-Chronicle:

Football: Dickey, UNT set for final home game

Mean Green looking for fourth win of season against Florida Atlantic

By Brett Vito / Staff Writer

North Texas won a few big games, toppled records and set off multiple wild post-game celebrations at Fouts Field during nine seasons under head coach Darrell Dickey.

UNT stomped Baylor in 2003, Jamario Thomas rushed for a school-record 291 yards against Idaho in 2004 and fans tore down the goalposts after the Mean Green clinched the Sun Belt Conference title in 2002, 2003 and 2004.

Memories from those good times will come flooding back for more than a few UNT coaches and players today, when the Mean Green face Florida Atlantic in their home finale that will also mark the end of an era. Dickey, the architect of UNT's four-year run as Sun Belt Conference champions from 2001-04, will make his final appearance at home with the Mean Green in the second-to-last game of the season.

Dickey was fired on Nov. 8 in the middle of his ninth season with the Mean Green. The longtime UNT coach has declined to reflect on what the game might be like for him personally and has focused instead on what his team has accomplished and still can achieve in the last two weeks of the season.

"Myself and my players are going to try to finish this season representing the University of North Texas the way we always have," Dickey said. "We are going to give the best effort we possibly can and focus all of our attention on putting together a wonderful performance on Saturdays. That's our goal."

UNT came as close as it has to that goal since a win over SMU in the second week of the season last week by beating Louisiana-Lafayette. The Mean Green didn't have their best offensive game of the year, but combined enough big plays with a solid defensive performance to pull out a 16-7 victory that came just days after Dickey was told he would not return next season.

The win broke a three-game slide that saw the Mean Green lose close games to Troy and Louisiana Tech.

"It's a compliment to the character of the players in this program and their maturity that we went down there and beat a team that was picked to win the conference and has veterans across the board," Dickey said. "It's as proud as I have been of a football team in a long time."

UNT's players are looking forward to trying to build on that win in what will be the last home game not only for Dickey, but for several seniors who helped create some of the memorable moments at Fouts in the Dickey era.

Johnny Quinn, UNT's all-time leader in receiving yards, linebacker Phillip Graves and offensive lineman Joel Foster are a few of several seniors who played during a 26-game conference winning streak that ranked among the nation's longest before coming to an end early last season.

"I am going to have a lot of family there," senior wide receiver Zach Muzzy said. "It will be emotional, but we will be focused and ready to play. We want to win not only for coach Dickey but also for ourselves. We want to go out on top."

Reaching that goal could be a challenge against an FAU team that always seems to find a way to beat the Mean Green.

The Owls stunned UNT in the second week of the 2004 season when Doug Parker scored on a 1-yard run with 29 seconds left to give FAU a 20-13 win. The Owls came back to beat the Mean Green last season when Nick Bazaldua's potential game-tying, 47-yard field goal bounced off the right upright with two seconds left in a 26-23 loss.

UNT's players attributed their struggles against FAU to the Owls' intensity.

"They play hard," Foster said. "Even if they make a mistake they come back and create opportunities for themselves. We are going to have to match their intensity."

Getting its offense on track wouldn't hurt the Mean Green's cause either.

UNT scored a season-high 31 points two weeks ago in a loss to Louisiana Tech and added 16 last week against UL-Lafayette, but still ranks No. 117 out of 119 teams nationally in total offense with an average of 231.1 yards a game.

The Mean Green's veterans are hoping they can improve on that total and rekindle some of the magic they created at Fouts Field earlier in their careers under Dickey.

"We are definitely looking forward to our last home game," Foster said. "It will be my last time at home and the last time for a lot of other guys. We want to leave with a good taste in our mouths."

Key player

Frantz Simeon, wide receiver

Florida Atlantic is the Sun Belt Conference's top passing team this season, a ranking that can be attributed in large part to wide receiver Frantz Simeon.

FAU used multiple quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs in its starting lineup throughout the year. Simeon has not been a part of that shuffle and has taken advantage by putting together a solid season.

The sophomore enters the weekend ranked sixth in the Sun Belt both in receptions (3.0) and receiving yards (48.1) per game. Simeon's consistent production is one reason FAU leads the Sun Belt with an average of 192.9 passing yards a game.

If UNT is to win consecutive games for the first time since the end of the 2004 regular season, the Mean Green will have to find a way to slow down FAU's top receiver.

"They have a good corps of receivers and good chemistry," UNT safety Aaron Weathers said. "Simeon is a solid player. They like to throw him a lot of screens. He is their go-to guy."

That is true not only on offense, but on special teams as well. Simeon is averaging 13.9 yards per punt return – 4 yards better than any other player in the league.

Simeon came up with one of his better games of the season last week in a loss to Troy when he caught four passes for 110 yards.

Simeon is one of the smaller players on FAU's roster at 5-10, 185, but makes up for his lack of size with speed and quickness that can make him difficult to cover.

Dealing with Simeon could be tough for a UNT defense that ranks sixth out of eight teams in the Sun Belt against the pass with an average of 196.9 yards allowed per game.

While UNT has allowed a few teams to pile up yards in the passing game, the Mean Green have keep most of their opponents' top receivers in check. Limas Sweed of Texas caught five passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns against the Mean Green in their season opener. UNT didn't allow another 100-yard receiver until last week when Louisiana-Lafayette's Derrick Smith caught seven passes for 102 yards and a touchdown against the Mean Green.

UNT will have to clamp down on Simeon and the Owls if it is hoping to win its second straight game. The Mean Green should get a lift when it comes to that goal now that Weathers is back to full strength after battling a knee injury the last few weeks.

What's at stake

North Texas is looking to send head coach Darrell Dickey and a host of seniors out on a positive note in the last home game of the season. Dickey is in his ninth year with the Mean Green, but will not return next year after being dismissed on Nov. 8.

Johnny Quinn, UNT's all-time leader in receiving yards, and linebacker Phillip Graves are among the other players on the Mean Green's roster who will be making their last appearance at home.

FAU is looking to win its fourth game of the season and build momentum for its annual grudge match with rival Florida International.

Matching up

UNT offense vs. FAU defense

The Mean Green have struggled all season to get going offensively and come into their game against FAU ranked No. 113 out of 119 teams in the country in scoring offense with an average of 13.5 points per game. The Owls rank last in the Sun Belt in scoring defense with an average of 28.3 points allowed a game, but the total is misleading due to the tough schedule FAU has played.

Advantage: FAU

UNT defense vs. FAU offense

UNT played one of its best games of the season defensively last week in a 16-7 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. The Mean Green have not been consistent, but have played well at times. FAU leads the Sun Belt in passing offense with an average of 192.9 yards a game, but has scored just 31 points the last two weeks.

Advantage: UNT


Howard Schnellenberger led Miami to a national title in 1993, is one of the legends in college coaching and has built up the FAU program from scratch. UNT coach Darrell Dickey is the four-time Sun Belt Conference Coach of the Year, but is finishing out his run with the Mean Green after being dismissed Nov. 8. Emotion could swing momentum to Dickey's side.

Advantage: FAU

Key matchups


Chapman comes into UNT's game against FAU today off one of his best games of the season last week against Louisiana-Lafayette. The junior defensive end finished with three tackles against the Ragin' Cajuns, including two sacks. He put pressure on ULL quarterback Jerry Babb throughout the night.

UNT will need another big night from Chapman against FAU, which leads the Sun Belt in passing offense with an average of 192.9 yards a game. The Owls have used two quarterbacks this season and are expected to start redshirt freshman Rusty Smith against the Mean Green.

Smith threw for 312 yards last week in a loss to Troy and has 1,006 passing yards on the season. If UNT is to win its second straight game, the Mean Green will have to put pressure on Smith, who has thrown eight interceptions on the year.

UNT might be able to force Smith into a few key mistakes if it gets consistent pressure. If Smith is able to sit in the pocket, he might be able to pick apart UNT's pass defense that ranks sixth out of eight teams in the Sun Belt with an average of 196.9 yards allowed a game.

Chapman has 4.5 sacks on the season and is the Mean Green's best hope of pressuring Smith. If Chapman is to get to Smith, he will have to find a way to get past Faulk, a 6-7 junior who has played in every game since the 2003 season for FAU.


UNT has struggled to get its running game going throughout the season behind Thomas, a former national rushing champion.

Thomas leads the Mean Green with 625 rushing yards, but has scored just two touchdowns and is averaging 3.6 yards a carry. The junior is playing with the Mean Green's first-team offense and has essentially split time the last few weeks when UNT's "Green Team" of backup offensive players that has played several series.

Thomas had just six carries for 2 yards last week in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette, when backup Deavin Cox posted 98 rushing yards with the "Green Team."

Today's game against FAU could be Thomas' chance to get on track and build momentum heading into his senior season. The Owls rank seventh out of the eight teams in the Sun Belt with an average of 165.9 rushing yards allowed a game.

Middle Tennessee posted 271 rushing yards in a win over FAU two weeks ago.

The Owls will look to linebacker Cergile Sincere to help keep Thomas contained. The sophomore leads FAU in tackles with 69 and is just short of equaling his total of 70 from his freshman season last year.

Sincere comes into today's game off one of his better performances of the season last week against Troy. He finished with a team-high 11 tackles, including six solo stops, in a loss to the Trojans.

UNT will need Thomas and Cox to help get the Mean Green's running game going.
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From The Dallas Morning News:

Preview: FAU at UNT

Florida Atlantic (3-7, 2-3) at North Texas (3-7, 2-3)

Line: UNT by 5

What's on the line
UNT ? The Mean Green is looking to send a host of seniors and coach Darrell Dickey out in style in the last home game of the year.

FAU ?The Owls can break a two-game slide and pick up momentum before playing rival Florida International.

Who's hot
UNT ?Running back Deavin Cox rushed for 98 yards in a win over Louisiana-Lafayette last week.

FAU ?Redshirt freshman Rusty Smith threw for 312 yards in a loss to Troy last week.

Who's not
UNT ?Running back Jamario Thomas rushed for 2 yards on six carries against the Ragin' Cajuns.

FAU ?The Owls' secondary gave up 325 passing yards last week against Troy.

Stat that tells the story
UNT probably will finish without a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in six seasons. Thomas has 625 yards.

Key matchup
FAU WR Frantz Simeon vs. UNT DB Antoine Bush Simeon: ranks sixth in the Sun Belt in receptions (3.0) and receiving yards (48.1) per game. He is key to FAU's passing attack, which leads the Sun Belt with 192.9 yards a game. UNT will look to its top cornerback to slow Simeon.

UNT wins if
It continues to tap into the emotion surrounding Dickey's dismissal.

FAU wins if
The Owls can take advantage of UNT's pass defense, which has given up 196.9 yards a game.

Predicted score
UNT 24, FAU 14
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