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Canales seeks head coaching gig as North Texas career comes to close

Canales seeks head coaching gig as North Texas career comes to close

North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales celebrates his first win of the season over University of Texas-San Antonio by posing for pictures. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

Canales seeks head coaching gig as North Texas career comes to close
December 01
11:44 2015

Alex Lessard | Staff Writer

@alexlikechexmix

After serving as Mean Green football’s interim head coach the final seven weeks of the season, Mike Canales’ future is uncertain. With an expiring contract and plenty of opportunities elsewhere, his sixth year on the North Texas staff was likely his last.

Although his team won just one game and tied the school record for most losses in a single season, Canales still glows with the same pride and charm that helped keep him on the sidelines for over 20 years.

He hopes his players share a similar state of mind.

“I want them to walk out of here with their head held high,” Canales said. “It’s not an embarrassment what happened. It’s disappointing, but you have to have a lot of pride and understand who you represent. That’s what I’ve tried to get them to do over the past seven weeks.”

When the Mean Green suffered its crushing homecoming loss that resulted in the firing of former head coach Dan McCarney, Canales was given the wheel of an already sinking ship. The task at hand was to keep things afloat, not to turn the entire program around overnight. It was something Canales had done before at North Texas as Todd Dodge’s interim successor in 2010.

Now, his added experience as the team’s primary decision maker has only made the fire burn brighter to achieve a future goal he had set for himself before the 2015 season started: becoming a head coach.

“I want it even more,” Canales said. “After doing this for seven weeks in the most difficult situation to come into and being challenged as we were, I definitely want to be a head coach. I believe I am a head coach. I believe I have the characteristics and the personality that an athletic director is looking for.”

1_Canales Future6

North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales celebrates the team’s first win of the season against University of Texas-San Antonio. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

Staying positive and energetic was vital to preventing the team from dissolving before season’s end, despite not translating to success on the field. Players took notice of Canales’ work ethic and fed off it, including senior defensive tackle Austin Orr.

“For me, it’s been keeping me positive and knowing no one is going to give up on each other. That’s the biggest thing,” Orr said leading into the team’s final game last Saturday. “No one was trying to quit. Everyone’s been engaged and motivated.”

There’s a mountain of reasons why the Mean Green struggled the way it did. But moving forward, there’s a shared confidence that a fresh start will prove very beneficial once a new coach is leading the team out of the tunnel every Saturday.

“The good thing about it is when you start a season, you’re 0-0,” senior tight end Marcus Smith said. “They get to come back, kind of regroup and rebuild all offseason. When a new head coach comes in, just bring in a lot of charismatic energy, come in positive and work with the team.”

Smith and Canales both agreed the program already has enough young talent that can develop and become some of the best players in Conference-USA as early as next season. However, Canales said success won’t happen if the new coach doesn’t have a detailed plan on how to fix things from the ground up.

“You want a guy that has the personality, the charisma, the work ethic and the determination to turn a program around,” Canales said. “He’s got to have fire and juice in his pants to come to work every day that he’s going to improve this program and get it better.”

Even with the potential of living in a new city next fall, Canales said he’ll always have someone to call in Denton. Whether its athletic director Rick Villarreal or one of many others in the athletics department, Canales is confident any member of the Mean Green family would be willing to put in a good word for him in any future endeavors.

Before reading a final written statement last week, Canales reflected on his favorite memories, including the Heart of Dallas Bowl victory in 2013 and celebrating in the bleachers after the team’s lone victory this season over the University of Texas at San Antonio on Halloween night. No matter where life takes him, he says he will always retain those unforgettable moments.

“I believe in my heart the Mean Green program will be back stronger than ever in the near future,” Canales said. “I can walk away with my head held high, for I will forever know how special North Texas and Denton have been in my life and coaching career.”

Featured Image: North Texas interim head coach Mike Canales celebrates his first win of the season over University of Texas-San Antonio by posing for pictures. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

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