UNT Head Coach Todd Dodge Fired During Bye Week

Former Southlake Carroll coach went 6-37 in 3 1/2 seasons with Mean Green

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Head Coach Todd Dodge of the North Texas Mean Green speaks to one of his players during their game against the Ball State Cardinals at Scheumann Stadium on September 3, 2009 in Muncie, Indiana.

    The University of North Texas confirmed it fired head football coach Todd Dodge in a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

    UNT Director of Athletics Rick Villarreal announced that Dodge has been relieved of his duties as head coach effective immediately.

    "After a complete evaluation of the University of North Texas football program over the last three and one half years, I believe it is in the best interest of this university and this program to make a change in the leadership," Villarreal said. "With support from university President Lane Rawlins I have informed Coach Dodge of my decision to take the program in a new direction."

    Dodge was in the fourth year of a five-year contract with UNT.

    His dismissal is the second time a standout high school coach has fallen woefully short at the Division I level.

    Dodge was hired before the 2007 season after going 79-1 and winning four state championships in his final five years at nearby Southlake Carroll High School. He didn't immediately return a phone call from the Associated Press seeking comment.

    UNT gambled that Dodge would be able to transform high school success -- his Dragons won four 5A state titles in just seven years --  into success on the college gridiron.

    But the move didn't pay off -- Dodge had a record of 6-37 over 3 1/2 seasons with UNT. This year, the team is 1-6 so far. Faust, a former Texas quarterback, entered this year with a mandate from Villarreal to win at least seven games.

    The Mean Green lost three starters to injuries in each of their first three games and were down to their fourth quarterback, a walk-on who had never thrown a pass in a college game. North Texas has lost twice by a point this year and is 1-9 in games decided by a touchdown or less since the start of the 2009 season.

    North Texas became the first upper-division school to hire a head coach straight out of high school since Notre Dame brought in Gerry Faust in 1981. Faust's tenure at Notre Dame was considered a failure because he had a mediocre record of 30-26-1 at a tradition-rich school that expected to compete for national championships.

    The Mean Green replaced Darrell Dickey with Dodge after consecutive losing seasons that followed four straight Sun Belt Conference championships, hoping Dodge's spread offense and unprecedented high school success would energize fans while they pitched a plan for a new stadium. The $78 million project went through and will debut next year, but it wasn't because North Texas was winning.

    Dodge lost his first game to Oklahoma 79-10, the first of three times the Mean Green allowed at least 66 points in 2007. After one season, he fired the defensive coordinator he brought with him from Carroll, and all four high school coaches that joined him were gone before this year.

    "It was the right thing for me at the time, and I don't regret it because I think there's a sense of loyalty that I felt, and it was real," Dodge said before the season.

    Dodge was an assistant at North Texas before starting his high school head coaching career in 1994. He made three stops before taking over at Carroll in 2000. He was a quarterback for one of the original past-first high school offenses in Texas at Port Arthur Jefferson before joining the Longhorns in 1981.

    While the school looks for a replacement, offensive coordinator Mike Conales will take over as interim coach for the Mean Green.

    UNT has a bye this week and plays next at Western Kentucky on Oct. 30.

    AP sports writer Stephen Hawkins contributed to this report.

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