DENTON -- Dan McCarney’s first move as North Texas head coach was to hire the man who wanted his job.
Mike Canales, who had a 2-3 record as the Mean Green’s interim coach after Todd Dodge was fired, will be McCarney’s associate head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. McCarney and Canales are reuniting after working together at South Florida in 2007.
“I’m really ecstatic to have him,” McCarney said. “He can coach anywhere in the country. Mike is a real talented guy and I’m just real glad that he wanted to be here and be a part of building something special here at North Texas.”
Canales, who came as the offensive coordinator last spring, built a case to be considered as Dodge’s full-time replacement. The Mean Green (1-6 when Dodge was fired) doubled its scoring average after Canales took over as the interim coach. UNT scored 33.8 points per game with Canales in charge despite playing with third- and fourth-team quarterbacks.
Canales’ tenure as head coach ended with a 49-41 loss to Kansas State, when UNT almost pulled off a comeback over a Big 12 foe in the Fouts Field finale.
“It gave me an opportunity for five games to showcase what Mike Canales is about and how I could turn a program that was basically lifeless on its back – let’s be honest – and create some identity and some passion for the game again,” Canales said. “I think they showed it on the field in how they played as a team and how we performed. The last game speaks for itself. I think one of the biggest things it showed is that the kids believed in Coach Canales. I know I’m ready to be a head coach.
Canales, however, is happy to work for McCarney. They’ve kept in touch since their season working together, and Canales made a trip to Florida to pick the brains of Urban Meyer’s staff for a day when McCarney was the associate head coach.
Canales said that, if he didn’t get the head coaching job at UNT, he hoped McCarney would be hired. They had a brief conversation Tuesday morning, quickly agreeing that Canales would remain in Denton.
“The energy level is going to be unreal around here,” Canales said. “I go like you can’t believe and he goes at the same level. We don’t need coffee. We don’t need Coke or Diet Coke. We just go. That’s one thing about us. You’re going to get two guys who have such passion and desire and drive. A lot of good things are going to happen.”