North Texas' Dan McCarney knows, respects Georgia football team

North Texas' Dan McCarney knows, respects Georgia football team

September 17th, 2013 by David Paschall in Sports - College

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Dan McCarney has never lost to Georgia, but it would take a monumental upset to keep that streak alive.

The third-year North Texas football coach was Florida's defensive line coach under Urban Meyer from 2008 to '10, when the Gators won three straight games against the Bulldogs in Jacksonville. Georgia has won the past two meetings against Florida, but McCarney now is trying to rebuild the Mean Green in their first year in Conference USA. They could enter Saturday as five-touchdown underdogs.

"I would sure like to bring some of those draft picks we had at Florida to the hotel with me this week," McCarney said Monday.

McCarney was Iowa's defensive line coach throughout the 1980s when the Hawkeyes rose to national prominence under Hayden Fry, and he was Wisconsin's defensive coordinator under Barry Alvarez from 1990 to '94 before being named head coach at Iowa State. He guided the Cyclones for 12 seasons and left Ames in 2006 with 56 wins, 85 losses and five bowl appearances, which are all school records.

After spending the 2007 season as South Florida's assistant head coach and defensive line coach and the next three seasons in the same roles with the Gators, McCarney got his second crack at heading a program.

"I got the opportunity to come here in a state where there is phenomenal high school football, a great university and tremendous administration, and we have nowhere to go but up," he said. "It was a bottom-10 football program when we got here."

North Texas had lost 16 of 17 home games before his arrival, but the Mean Green have been a more respectable 11-16 overall since. They are no strangers to stout SEC competition, having lost 41-0 at Alabama in 2011 and 41-14 at LSU last year.

Georgia hosts LSU next week, but coach Mark Richt insists his Bulldogs will not be looking ahead.

"Just this past weekend, you saw Michigan playing Akron," Richt said. "I don't know what their mindset was going into the game, but I know what it was, I'm sure, when the game was over. I think everybody just has to understand that we must focus very, very hard on improving, and that we must focus very, very hard on our game plan."

The unique Mean Green nickname has been attributed to the school's most famous player, former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive lineman "Mean" Joe Greene. A more recent North Texas product is Dallas Cowboys running back Lance Dunbar, who had a costly fumble during Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

North Texas has not had a winning season since 2004, when the Mean Green won their final Sun Belt Conference title.

"We're just trying to give our fans hope and make it relevant again," McCarney said.

Odds and ends

Richt's Bulldogs practiced for two hours Monday in full pads. ... Georgia's game against LSU was picked up Monday by CBS and will have a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. That will be the eighth straight time CBS has televised Bulldogs-Tigers meetings, which includes the three SEC title-game matchups in 2003, '05 and '11. ... Former Georgia offensive lineman Scott Adams (1985-88) died Monday.

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524.