At North Texas, Dan McCarney is playing catch up. In his second season leading the Mean Green, the former University of Florida defensive line coach is trying to build a solid structure to support his plans for the future of the North Texas program.
At Florida, he had a support staff at his fingertips that rivaled any program in the country. In Denton, Texas, he has less than one-sixth of that budget ($3.5 million) for his support staff and administration, a difference of $18.2 million.
"At Florida it was like it is at Alabama," McCarney explained. "[Urban] Meyer loved having a lot of people around, whether it's another set of eyes, another set of feet, two more hands, two more opinions. We had lots of people, whether it was helping in the weight room, whether it was the recruiting office, whether it was just the front office meeting and greeting people and sending a message about Gator Nation."
McCarney remembered the sheer volume of the staff at Florida fondly, laughing as he recalled the interview process.
"The first time I actually went into the offices, the introductions seemed like they were endless," McCarney said. "It wasn't just the defensive coordinator, offensive coordinator, strength coach. It was all those other people that help out. For me, it was really neat to see."
The support staff pays off immensely in the recruiting process, McCarney said. Since coaches aren't allowed to have direct contact with recruits during unofficial visits, it's the job of others to show them around the campus and make a positive impression. At Florida, McCarney recalled having recruits chauffeured around in an oversized golf cart by, "good young people that have a loyalty and a love for the university."
"I learned a lot from my time with Urban," McCarney said. "But that's one thing that you can't help but impact you from a positive way by getting more young people, more young guys involved and give them a chance. And then it's really neat to see them mature and flourish."
At North Texas, McCarney is trying to foster the same environment he witnessed firsthand in Gainesville. Working on a limited budget, McCarney has had to rely on interns to lend support where possible.
"Interns helping in recruiting, interns helping our director of football operations, interns helping work the front desk," McCarney said, rattling off a laundry list of areas of need. "Here we don't have the budget to pay our interns, so it's strictly voluntary."
But there's another side to having a large staff: There's not always safety in numbers.
As McCarney understands, with each new responsibility you place in the hands of an employee, the circle widens and the opportunity for mistakes grows. The NCAA is always watching, and whether it's a head coach or a random member of the support staff, they represent the university, and if someone commits an infraction it's the university that's ultimately responsible.
"You have to be smart about it," McCarney said. "The rules and regulation and compliance have to be very communicative. The last thing you want is some innocent person that's moved into your staff help out breaking some rule or jeopardizing your program over something they weren't educated on."
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