By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
In Southlake he enjoyed a culture rich in pride, publicity and prosperity. In Denton, the football team sucks, usually in the shadows.
Coach Darrell Dickey momentarily revived UNT early this decade, developing national rushing leaders Patrick Cobbs and Jamario Thomas and qualifying for four New Orleans Bowls. But the run-based offense stagnated, fans grew disenchanted and the Eagles stumbled to 5-18 over the last two seasons.
Enter the Dragon, with a five-year contract worth $265,000 a year and the toughest rebuilding job since Quincy Carter asked God for forgiveness and Randy Galloway for bail. UNT's 2006 offense averaged a wimpy 12.8 points per game, 115th out of Division I-A's 119 teams. Johnny Quinn, the school's all-time leading receiver, is graduating. And the returning quarterbacks—Daniel Meager, Woody Wilson and Matt Phillips—combined for 19 interceptions last year and threw for only 1,382 yards and nine touchdowns, totals Riley long ago surpassed in this year's playoffs alone.
None of this, of course, remotely worries Dodge.
Thanks to his proficient system and popular camps, he's already leap-frogged SMU and TCU in the recruiting war. He'll command media attention. He'll influence the school's proposed plans for a new stadium.
And, most important, Todd Dodge and his healing hands will win.
Merry Christmas, Mean Green.