The University of North Texas is primarily known for its exceptional music school. UNT’s jazz program is among the best in the world and its top band, the One O’Clock Lab Band, has earned six Grammy nominations. But there is one thing the school isn’t known for: the UNT football program. And lately, any reputation it does have is for being a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad football team.
Things haven’t always been this grim. From ‘73-’78, under College Football Hall of Fame coach Hayden Fry, the Mean Green went 40-23-3. That’s not stellar, but the team did post 10-1 and 9-2 record in Fry’s final seasons, which is the mark of a contender. Pro Football Hall of Famer and star of that famous Coke ad, Charles “Mean Joe” Greene, suited up as an Eagle during some of the squad’s best years in the late sixties. And no, even though it’d make a ton of sense, UNT’s “Mean Green” nickname is apparently not inspired by Greene.
But today, UNT’s football team is consistently one of the worst among the NCAA Division I schools, and the 2015 season was a particularly horrid one. Here are some of the season’s lowlights.
The Mean Green won exactly one game during the season. On Halloween, UNT beat the University of Texas at San Antonio 30-23. That triumph over the Roadrunners isn’t exactly heroic—UTSA finished the season with a 3-9 record, the worst season of the football team’s five years of existence. Ten of eleven losses over the course of the season found UNT being beat by at least two touchdowns and seven were complete blowouts, including a 24-0 shutout against Tennessee, the 55-28 drubbing at the hands of Western Kentucky and a 62-16 gutting doled out by Iowa.
Head coach Dan McCarney was fired an hour after a game. Depending on where you stand, one of two games were the most crushing defeats. The first contender was a 31-13 opening day loss to SMU, a rivalry based more on proximity than actual competition. The teams have barely played one another, but SMU is the clear victor in the series, besting UNT 29-5-1. The other contender for most embarrassing defeat was the fifth game, a 66-7 loss to the Portland State Vikings, a team in the inferior Football Championship Subdivision—which offers less scholarships and funding, in turn attracting less talent than the Football Bowl Subdivision in which UNT competes. This embarrassing loss was UNT’s homecoming game—a game that schools typically schedule to play against teams they should beat with ease. It seems that UNT even paid for the right to win, shelling out $425,000 to lose against Portland State. UNT’s head coach Dan McCarney was fired (at least publicly) one hour after the game ended.
Nobody is going to these games. When you’re this bad, a naturally paltry attendance follows. In late October, UNT was ranked 123 out of 128 out of all the FBS teams with an average attendance of 16,519. That’s a 30 percent drop from the freakishly good 2013 season UNT had when they went 9-4 and won the Heart of Dallas Bowl game against the University of Las Vegas. Over the course of the season, UNT’s average attendance was 13,631, which is only 44 percent of Apogee Stadium’s 30,850 max capacity. The lowest attendance came during the final game of the season in a 20-17 loss against the University of Texas at El Paso with only 8,305 in attendance. Some of them were presumably UNT fans. Or masochists.
Of course, the stats were really, really bad. There are 128 teams in the NCAA’s I Football Bowl Subdivision. The top performing teams include folks such as Clemson, Alabama, Michigan State and Oklahoma; down at the bottom you have the likes of winless Kansas and University of Central Florida and, yes, UNT. Out of all 128 teams, UNT was tied at 124th in offensive points per game (15.2) and was 122nd in points scored against them per game (41.3). Three different quarterbacks played during the season and not one completed at least 50 percent of their passes.