I exchanged Q&A's with Brett Vito of the Denton Record-Chronicle
Here were my answers: http://meangreenblog.dentonrc.com/2013/11/qa-with-bret-bloomquist.html/
Here are Vito's:
1. Is this UNT turnaround as instant as it looks from the outside, or were the seeds of it planted before this year?
UNT’s turnaround has been a couple of years in the making. I just don’t think there is any way to overstate what a disaster the decision to hire Todd Dodge, the old Southlake Carroll coach, was for UNT. Dodge went 6-37, and that wasn’t even the bad part. He left the program in shambles. Dan McCarney spent the last couple of years rebuilding after the whole fiasco was finally rectified with Dodge’s firing. UNT has gradually brought in legitimate college players, developed the players who were already there and slowly building the program up. The results are what one is seeing this year with a competent coaching staff leading what is a pretty good and experienced team.
2. How will North Texas respond to a degree of success and expectations they haven't enjoyed before?
UNT has done pretty well with dealing with success so far. UNT has won four straight after going eight straight seasons without winning consecutive games. It would have been easy for UNT to become satisfied at some point during that run, but the success UNT has enjoyed seems to have motivated the Mean Green even more. Dan McCarney keeps emphasizing the next goal. UNT has really honed in on winning a seventh game, which the Mean Green’s players have been told will pretty much lock them into a bowl game.
3. What has keyed the defensive success and how are they so good at forcing turnovers?
It’s a matter of emphasis more than anything. McCarney is a defensive-minded coach and brought in his long-time sidekick John Skladany, who was his defensive coordinator at Iowa State. Those guys put a huge emphasis on forcing turnovers by stripping the ball and getting big hits. UNT’s players have latched on to those ideas and are enjoying the benefits. UNT spent a whole lot of time in the off-season working on a turnover circuit that emphasizes the techniques McCarney and Skladany teach for forcing turnovers and continue to run through it during the season. As far as the overall success of UNT’s defense, the Mean Green is loaded with experienced players, including linebacker Zach Orr and safety Marcus Trice. UNT has a lot of experience on that side of the ball, not to mention several players who have been good players for a long time.
4. How optimistic are they about being able to hold on to McCarney? Surely he is about to be a hot commodity.
My gut feeling is that McCarney isn’t going anywhere. He has waited a long time to be a head coach again and seems to have settled into the Denton community. McCarney has also gone through a series of well-publicized health issues, including a stroke and bypass surgery. And then there is the added draw of building a program at a school where his mentor Hayden Fry coached. At McCarney’s age, I find it hard to believe that he would pull up shop and move to a new program to rebuild when he finally has UNT rolling and is in something of a position of power at the school. If McCarney goes to a bowl game this year – and it looks like he will – he’s an instant hero at UNT. There’s a lot to like about that.
5. Did North Texas expect the transition from the Sun Belt to C-USA to be harder?
We talked and wrote a lot about how the transition would go, but I always got the feeling that UNT felt like the Sun Belt was a pretty good league by the time it left. The difference between the Sun Belt and C-USA narrowed considerably when the teams all ended up in their final destinations. My impression was that UNT felt like it was stepping up a level in competition, but people felt like it wasn’t like the school was joining the SEC.