I've been following UNT football for a loooong time. I watched us lose a competitive game to the Pony Express in Texas Stadium. I lobbied UNT classmates about why we should approve the vote the move football from D-2 back to D-1. "Don't you want to see Notre Dame or Penn State play us in Denton?" (Oh how naive I was back then.)
I was listening to the live broadcast of the Baylor game when George Dunham asked, "Do you believe in the Mean Green??" I was in Lubbock in '97 and '99 when we beat Texas Tech. I recall how proud I was when friends would ask, "Didn't Erric Pegram go to North Texas?" I was there when Dickey's team donned those awful looking black shirts and I was there when McCarney's team shit the bed against Portland State. I watched Brewer's awesome punt return in the Arkansas game a few years ago (family commitment kept from witnessing that one in person).
I'm sure there are a few more, but those are the highlights (and lowlights) that immediately come to mind for me. 4+ decades of following UNT football and that's all I've got.
I was once a die-hard, enthusiastic Mean Green supporter and took my family to the game every weekend. I knew our football schedule by memory. Many years of disappointment have taken its toll on me and stolen all my excitement for UNT football. Season tickets are something I no longer even contemplate buying. Instead I've immersed myself in my kids' sports - I coach them and I can control how good the teams are. When we lose, I know how to fix things. I know how to get better. We win and we win a LOT (I'm a competitive SOB). Oh, I'll still check the UNT score, but it may not be until mid-week or later. Friends will ask, "Who does UNT play this week?" I have no idea and will have to check my phone for the schedule. When we make some spare bowl game it doesn't really do anything to excite me. A lot of teams make spare bowl games these days. No big deal really.
Why did I just share all of that??? Why?? Because I'm just one of thousands of disenfranchised UNT football fans that have found better, much more fulfilling things to do with their time. We are a sleeping giant, right? I've heard on this board many times. Hell, I've even said it myself.
What will it take to ignite our fan base and is that even possible?? A top 25 ranking?? Top 10?? Undefeated season?? Will one season do it or will it take multiple seasons of success before the average UNT grad feels proud enough to say, "I went there!" and start attending games, buying merchandise and raising TV ratings?
What will it take to get Top 25 programs to play in Denton on a regular basis?? I fear nothing short of a P5 conference will result in getting home games against P5 programs.
What will it take to make top 100 Texas recruits want to play college football at UNT?? We will likely never compete with Texas, OU or A&M for top Texas recruits, but we should be able to compete with any other Texas school. The school districts north of Dallas; Allen, Frisco, Plano, Denton have some of the top talent in the country every year. Yet, we struggle to get even one of those players to play at UNT.
I ask all these questions as I watch undefeated UTSA, now ranked #24 in their 10th season of playing football. Charlotte, in their 8th season, gets invited to the same conference as UNT. UAB terminated their football program in 2014, and didn't play for 2+ seasons, yet in 2021 they also are invited to the same conference as UNT. Liberty just started playing FBS football in 2019 and cracked the Top 25 in 2020. I'm surprised they didn't get the nod over us for the AAC.
Why not UNT? How does UNT fix things?? How does UNT get better? What does the future hold? Why is it so hard to have a successful football program? We haven't been ranked since the 70s, will we go another 40+ years before we crack the Top 25?