Legendary sportswriter Wendell Barnhouse recently left the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and is now a correspondent for Big 12 Sports.com. With 30 years experience of observing the college scene, his expertise is unmatched. In the spirit of Steve Harvey's Bottom Ten, Wendell will provide us a capsule look at college football's less fortunate, counting down the Bottom 25 teams in Division I-A football.
No. 6 North Texas
Location: Denton, Texas.
Nickname: Mean Green.
Conference: Sun Belt.
Coach: Todd Dodge, 2-10, second season.
Division I-A history: 464-423-22 in 92 seasons, .522 winning percentage.
Last bowl season: 2004.
Best record in last five years: 9-4 in 2003.
Rank(ed) because: The Mean Green started the 21st century in a bad mood that translated into four consecutive Sun Belt Conference titles that produced four trips to the New Orleans Bowl. Considering where North Texas is now, that seems like decades ago. In his first season making the jump from high school head coach to college head coach, Todd Dodge found out that a 79-1 prep record doesn't translate to Division I-A. While "Dodge Ball" worked out fine on the offensive side, North Texas has huge strides to make defensively.
Negative number: North Texas gave up 45 or more points six times and twice the opponents' side of the scoreboard turned into That 70s Show — 79 by Oklahoma, 74 by Navy.
Possible victory: Florida International, Oct. 4. North Texas will be seeking revenge for last season's loss to the Golden Panthers that stopped FIU's 23-game losing streak. Considering that Florida International is a Bottom 25 team that has yet to show up in the countdown, the Mean Green has that going for 'em.
Biggest blowout: At Louisiana State, Sept. 13. North Texas also has a Check Cashing Game at Kansas State (the season opener) but this trip to Baton Rouge to face the defending national champions could get nasty. LSU opens Southeastern Conference play at Auburn after facing North Texas so this is will be a tune-up game for the Tigers.
Is there hope?: To fix a defense that finished 95th or worse in the four major categories (rushing, passing, total, scoring), Dodge went back in time and hired Gary DeLoach. He was North Texas' defensive coordinator from 2000-02. Under his guidance, the Mean Green were ninth in total defense in 2002. DeLoach spent the last five seasons coaching UCLA's secondary so he should be familiar with how to improve a pass defense that gave up nearly 257 yards a game.
Thanks to the Helmet Project.