Jan. 1, 2014
DALLAS - Not long after his arrival in Denton, head football coach Dan McCarney began talking about legacies, about his players being remembered by future North Texas teams for having established the foundation on which a successful program could be built, and he challenged this season's seniors to do just that.
In many ways, this was the perfect season to start a winning tradition, a year marked by North Texas entering Conference USA and celebrating the 100th year of the program's existence. But it's the Mean Green's accomplishments on the field - and the fact that the 2013 season extended into 2014 - that made this such a historic campaign.
More than half of the Mean Green's games this season (seven of 13) were against teams that went to a bowl game this season - the most bowl teams North Texas has ever played. More importantly, the Mean Green won four games against those bowl-bound opponents, by far the most victories over bowl teams for North Texas in a single season.
Now, that's a legacy.
"Everybody loves a winner. But along the way, how did they do it?" North Texas coach Dan McCarney said after Wednesday's 36-14 win over UNLV at the Heart of Dallas Bowl. "How did they come to be respected by everybody and bring pride back to this university? How they did it was every day with their actions, with their behavior, with their class, with their leadership, with their pride, and just never-say-die attitude.
"We sent a message today," he added. "I think this is a program that's clearly on the rise. We have some tremendous guys coming back. We're going to miss these seniors, but the example they have left is here forever."
Because its not just one game, one season, even one bowl victory that McCarney was seeking from this senior class.
"It's just a jolt of confidence, and something to really show for everyone's hard work," McCarney said, "especially the sophomores and juniors who have seen how these seniors have led and forged this path for them. What a great experience for not only the underclassmen, but for future teams."
The accolades this Mean Green team earned were made possible largely by a senior class that shrugged off the struggles of the past four years to lead North Texas to its first-ever New Year's Day win, and they finish their Mean Green careers with their names splashed across the record book.
• The North Texas offensive line surrendered just 17 sacks in the last two years, the fewest allowed in the nation in that span. Behind that line, the Mean Green set a school record for total offense this year and topped 5,000 yards for the first time with 5,336.
• Wide receiver/punt returner/kickoff returner Brelan Chancellor wound up as the Mean Green's all-time career leader in all-purpose yards, passing Lance Dunbar in his final game. Chancellor finishes his career with 5,513 yards, edging past Dunbar's previous mark of 5,375. Chancellor's senior season is also the No. 1 single-season in Mean Green history for all-purpose yards with 1,964.
• Mean Green quarterback Derek Thompson etched his name all over the North Texas record book for career and single-season marks. No. 2 in pass attempts, completions, and passing yards; No. 5 in pass efficiency; No. 4 in completion percentage; No. 3 in career total yards; and tied for fourth in touchdown passes. He is tied with Steve Ramsey for the second most 200-yard passing games, is second in most consecutive 200-yard games, and has the most 300-yard passing games in school history. His senior season is No. 2 in single-season passing yards, No. 2 in completions and completion percentage, and No. 2 in total offense.
• Defensive end Aaron Bellazin finishes ninth in career sacks with 15, and Brandon McCoy is tenth all-time with 14.5 sacks.
• Senior linebacker Zach Orr capped a remarkable career by tying for third all-time (with Brad Kassell) in career tackles 365, and is sixth all-time in tackles for loss with 25.
• Running back Brandin Byrd finishes his career as the No. 8 career rusher in North Texas history with 2,205 yards.
• Senior defensive linemen Aaron Bellazin, Ryan Boutwell, Brandon McCoy and Aaron Bellazin led the way to the Mean Green recording the third most sacks in a single season (39) in school history; and Bellazin and MCoy finish their careers in seventh and ninth places, respectively, all-time in career tackles for loss.
• and defensive back Marcus Trice made an enormous impact in just two seasons after transferring from Oklahoma, recording five interceptions this year to rank third in C-USA and three blocked kicks on a special-teams unit that went from no blocks a year ago to eight in 2013.