North Texas spring practice CDC

North Texas head coach Seth Littrell gets his players fired up before before a game. UNT's chances to conduct spring practice this year faded Sunday night when the Centers for Disease Control advised that activities with 50 or more people be put off or cancelled for the next eight weeks.

North Texas was holding out hope just a few days ago that it might have a chance to conduct spring football drills.

UNT was set to begin practice on Monday. Athletic director Wren Baker said late last week that UNT was considering pushing drills back a week amid the spread of COVID-19. 

Those hopes have faded quickly since and might have been extinguished on on Sunday night when the Centers for Disease Control recommended that organizations cancel or postpone all events that consist of 50 or more people for the next eight weeks.

That announcement came just days after Conference USA announced that all of its athletic competitions have been suspended until further notice.

One look at the calendar shows what a huge time crunch that eight week timeline causes for UNT and other college football programs that are hoping to find a way to have their teams practice.

UNT and other schools wouldn't be able to start working out until May if they follow the CDC's guideline. UNT's finals are scheduled for May 2-8.

It's hard to imagine UNT breaking from a CDC guideline. UNT could split into smaller groups of 50 or less to practice, but even that would be problematic when one considers how many players, coaches and support personnel would be required to get any kind of work done.

It also seems unlikely UNT would split hairs to get the number under 50 to conduct workouts.

There are a host of concerns bigger than football for the world, the country and UNT. The health and well being of people is of the utmost concern.

With that being said, it would be a brutal turn of events for UNT to not have spring practice.

The Mean Green lost star quarterback Mason Fine to graduation and have a new defensive coordinator in Clint Bowen. UNT will also have a new offensive coordinator, at least technically.

UNT coach Seth Littrell has always said it's his system and that isn't changing. The other cooks in the kitchen this year will be Tommy Mainord and Mike Bloesch, a newcomer who will coach UNT's offensive line. Mainord and Bloesch will serve as co-coordinators this year.

Littrell is going to take over calling plays.

Quarterbacks coach Tate Wallis is also new. There will be an adjustment period there.

UNT will likely undergo an even bigger overhaul defensively under Bowen. He'll look to put his stamp on the Mean Green's defense in his second stint with the program.

And Fine isn't the only key player UNT lost. The Mean Green's whole offensive line will have to be rebuilt. UNT also lost some key players on defense, including three starting defensive backs who all finished with at least 63 tackles last season in Khairi Muhammad, Nick Harvey and Taylor Robinson.

Every team has challenges to work through in spring practice. There is an argument to be made that this spring is one of the most important in recent history for the Mean Green.

UNT's two top candidates to take over for Fine are Austin Aune and Jason Bean.

Aune was a polished high school recruit coming out of Argyle, but that was in 2012, before he spent six years in the New York Yankees farm system. Bean was also a highly regarded recruit but has limited experience.

UNT desperately needed to see what it had with both -- and the rest of its team -- this spring.

The Mean Green still might get that opportunity. The chances of that happening seemed to fade with the CDC's announcement tonight. 

BRETT VITO can be reached at 940-566-6870 and via Twitter at @brettvito.

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