Eric Morris made a whole lot of promises during his introductory press conference last week like all new coaches do, including a vow to compete for championships in the American Athletic Conference.
North Texas’ new head coach also talked a little about how he planned to get there.
“I plan to hire the best staff in the country,” Morris said. “Work has already gotten underway on that.”
Morris is expected to add Ferris High running backs coach and special teams coordinator Justin Owens as his new recruiting coordinator and has also hired former Washington State assistant Rolando Surita to serve in an off-field role.
UNT added former Southern Cal staffer Bryan Kegans as its new strength coach on Monday.
School officials told the Denton Record-Chronicle that those two additions will be part of a sizable increase in the number of off-field positions on UNT’s staff, including an expansion of the program’s recruiting department. That expansion is expected to put UNT more in line with the staffs at Power Five conference schools.
UNT’s recruiting department included chief of staff Luke Walerius and recruiting operations coordinator Lauren Craine this season.
New UNT athletic director Jared Mosley alluded to the expansion of the school’s staff when he was introduced at the same press conference as Morris.
UNT officials have pointed to the school’s need to expand its 45,000-square foot athletic center for years. Mosley appealed to UNT supporters to help the school raise the $20 million to $25 million it will need to complete the project.
While the expansion of the athletic center would benefit all of UNT’s programs, there is little doubt the project would help the school’s most prominent team.
“The critical support needs for our athletes in sports medicine, metal health, nutrition, academic and career support, as well as their physical development, demand that we raise the bar and provide the absolute best to these young men and women,” Mosley said. “We have immediate space needs for new staff we anticipate adding in our operations to deliver this type of experience.
“We need to get this project to the finish line as fast as we can.”
That added space could help accommodate the larger staff UNT officials believe Morris will need to help the Mean Green be competitive in the American and in recruiting DFW.
UNT is set to leave Conference USA for the American this summer.
School officials have long viewed the Dallas area as a largely untapped gold mine in terms of recruiting. UNT is the lone public university in the Dallas area with a Football Bowl Subdivision program and has a diverse student body of more than 40,000 students.
SMU and TCU are both smaller private schools. UNT will be in direct competition with SMU in the American.
Morris pointed to the staff he is putting together as a reason UNT will be able to win more of the recruiting battles it needs to win to elevate the program.
“The assistant coaches I’m going to bring in here understand this area, have great relationships already built or are entrenched here,” Morris said. “That’s going to help get us in the door.”
Coaches from across the DFW area immediately responded on social media to UNT’s plans to add Owens to its staff as well as Morris’ decision to retain running backs coach Patrick Cobbs and bring in former Alabama assistant Drew Svoboda.
Cobbs is a UNT Hall of Famer, a former NFL running back and a former Texas high school coach. He began his coaching career at Ryan before making the jump to the college level at UNT.
Svoboda led Klein Collins to five district championships and eight playoff appearances in 10 years and has deep ties in the Houston area.
UNT is hoping those ties help Morris push the Mean Green toward Morris’ goal of winning championships
UNT has played in six bowl games the last seven years and appeared in the C-USA championship game twice, including this season. The Mean Green haven’t won any of those games.
Morris and UNT have plans to help the Mean Green get over the hump.
Those plans include expanding UNT’s off-field football staff significantly.
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