North Texas Daily

Seth Littrell has made the Mean Green relevant again – and he may not be around much longer

Seth Littrell has made the Mean Green relevant again – and he may not be around much longer

November 11
17:58 2017

At the Group of Five level of college football, there is always a caveat to success.

For schools in Conference USA — the American Athletic, the Mid-American, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt conferences — attracting successful coaches is a challenge. Smaller programs traditionally have significantly less money to spend than Power Five teams and struggle to compete in recruiting and the facilities’ arms race.

But when schools like North Texas find a coach like, say, Seth Littrell, the honeymoon is usually short-lived.

Good coaches like Littrell who have had an abundance of success as coordinators come to schools like North Texas to prove they have what it takes to make it as a head coach at the Division I level.

By doing so, they aim to punch their ticket to a bigger stage, which leaves the team they turned into a winner frantically searching for a capable replacement.

And so the cycle goes.

After Hall of Famer Darrell Dickey was fired in 2006, the Mean Green took a chance on Todd Dodge before hiring Dan McCarney in 2011. Both coaches didn’t last long – and for good reason.

Aside from a Heart of Dallas Bowl win in 2013, neither Dodge nor McCarney proved they could win at the Group of Five level. Now, Dodge is back in the high school ranks leading Austin Westlake while McCarney is out of a job.

Neither was afforded the opportunity to move up in the college ranks.

But after firing McCarney, North Texas finally hit a homerun when it hired Littrell in December 2015. Littrell came over from North Carolina, where he was the offensive coordinator of a team on the verge of making the College Football Playoff.

He boldly promised that 2015 would be the last time the Mean Green were sitting at home during the bowl season. It was a claim many laughed at and dismissed as Littrell was taking over a program coming off a brutal 1-11 year.

But that wasn’t just “coach speak,” and Littrell made good on his promise.

Somehow, he put together a roster that made the jump from 1-11 to 5-7 and qualified for a bowl in 2016 based on a high academic progress rate (APR) score.

He followed that magician’s job with a 7-3 start to the 2017 season, clinching a spot in the C-USA championship game with a 45-10 win over the University of Texas at El Paso Saturday. Littrell has North Texas in a real position to win nine, maybe 10 games this year.

Littrell did what every first-time head coach aims to do at the Group of Five level – win, and win fast.

Because of his success, he has worked his way into the conversation for what will likely be several bigger head coaching vacancies at the end of the season. In-state schools like Texas Tech, where Littrell coached running backs from 2005-2008, may be in need of a new coach at the end of the season – and they’d be well-served to give Littrell a long, hard look.

It’s a reality Mean Green fans may not want to face, but Littrell’s ability to turn a 1-11 team into a C-USA West Division champion in less than two full years will not go unnoticed.

As unlikely as it may have sounded a short time ago, North Texas will be playing in the C-USA title game Dec. 2.

An appearance on that stage makes it all the more likely Littrell becomes the target of a team looking for a proven young coach. That would leave North Texas again looking for a new face of its program at the end of the year.

But Littrell has turned the Mean Green into a dramatically more attractive program and will leave North Texas in a significantly better place than it was in when he took over.

His departure, whenever it may be, will hurt the Mean Green faithful. But the pain of watching a successful head coach move up in the world is well worth avoiding the alternative of a team that loses on a consistent basis, and provided the administration finds the right replacement, the Mean Green won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Thanks to Littrell, the North Texas football program is relevant again.

Featured image: North Texas head coach Seth Littrell stands on the sideline during a third down late in the game. Colin Mitchell

About Author

Brady Keane

Brady Keane

Brady Keane is the Sports Editor of the North Texas Daily. He previously served as Deputy Sports Editor (Jan. 2017-May 2017) and as a Staff Writer (Aug. 2015-May 2016).

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  1. Mike
    Mike November 11, 20:49

    Typical garbage from NTX Daily… Seth has yet to actually accomplish what coach Mac did, within two years as head coach. Yes, he (Seth), is a great coach, and could very well ‘tie’ Mac for a two year head coach ‘championship title’, but only the end of this season shall tell. I would love to see mean green as an athletic powerhouse, but unfortunately, they aren’t seen as such by the general ‘sports arena’. Keep in mind, if by chance North Texas doesn’t prevail with a bowl game/ win this season, then Mac still holds that ‘two year record’ title.

    Reply to this comment
  2. NT92Alum
    NT92Alum November 11, 21:13

    First, he will be here next year. Second, and more importantly, why write this and publish it today? Just stupid.

    Reply to this comment
  3. MrGreenGenes
    MrGreenGenes November 12, 23:14

    Boise State lost 4 HFC’s in the space of about 12 years & still stayed a Top 25 program throughout each coaching so it’s not always the end of the world.

    Reply to this comment
  4. exormax
    exormax November 13, 07:11

    This article is crap!
    Its the sort of thing that has only negative effects and hurts recruiting.
    Seth Littrell has been highly compensated for his work at UNT.

    Reply to this comment
  5. MG_Backer
    MG_Backer November 14, 23:34

    Nobody wants Seth to leave but the truth is our conference is a testing ground for up and coming coaches. The hope is the AD finds another coach just as good and one day the program is the reason for the wins and recruits vs the the coach, kinda like Boise State or UH.

    Reply to this comment

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