DENTON, Texas North Texas head football coach Darrell Dickey has announced that three members of his coaching staff will not be back with the team next season. Running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Bruce Bell is retiring after 30 years as a coach, while defensive backs coach Van Malone and tight ends coach Duke Atterberry are resigning to pursue other interests. Dickey also announced that defensive coordinator Kenny Evans has been promoted to assistant head coach and Fred Bleil has been hired as defensive coordinator.
"We are losing three quality coaches which all did a tremendous job during their time at North Texas," Dickey said. "Bruce Bell was a successful player and coach at North Texas and his contribution to this program will last for many years to come."
Bell was directly responsible for coaching the school’s top two career leading rushers Patrick Cobbs and Ja’Quay Wilburn. He is also the only North Texas assistant ever to coach three 1,000-yard rushers, which includes current running back Jamario Thomas in addition to Cobbs and Wilburn.
Atterberry is leaving after two years as the Mean Green’s tight ends coach while Malone will depart after just one year on the staff.
"Duke and Van have both made the tough decision to leave after a short stay on our staff," Dickey said. "They both are pursuing opportunities that they believe are in their best interests professionally."
Bleil was the defensive coordinator at North Texas in 1996 and 1997 before leaving to become the defensive secondary coach at San Diego State, where he has been since 1998. Prior to his first stop in Denton, Bleil was the defensive coordinator at the University of New Mexico for four years. He will also coach defensive backs in addition to his play calling duties.
"Fred Bleil has an outstanding track record as a successful defensive coach," Dickey said. "He has been in the business for over 35 years and knows what it takes to be successful. He has a history with this program, which will help him transition very quickly."
As the assistant head coach Evans will continue to coach linebackers and will also serve as the team’s recruiting coordinator. Evans has been at North Texas for eight years, spending the last three as defensive coordinator. He has coached the Mean Green linebackers for six years, producing six first team all-conference players, including Brad Kassell and Cody Spencer who are currently playing for the Tennessee Titans of the NFL.
Dickey is expected to fill the vacancies left by the departure of Bell and Atterberry as soon as possible.
"We have lost some very good assistant coaches over the past eight years, which is a credit to the direction of this program," Dickey said. "We will find the best coaches available that compliment our system and can help this program build on the foundation that we have established."