May 21, 2014
Coaches Caravan, Night 2 Photo Gallery
PLANO, Texas - Tuesday evening, a significant portion of Jordan Case's Park Place Lexus dealership was turned over to North Texas fans and coaches. Car salesmen were closing deals while smoke from meat roasting on a massive grill wafted through their offices. Visitors moved through the showroom, ignoring new models and eschewing sales pitches to instead listen to the assembled Mean Green coaches for the second stop of the 2014 North Texas Coaches Caravan.
It begged the question, why would anyone disrupt their business like this?
"I want people to know I'm from North Texas," Case said.
Case, renowned at North Texas as the quarterback of the 1978 squad that - decked out in lime green uniforms - posted a 9-2 record in its final year under coach Hayden Fry, is among that group of alumni who were instrumental in pulling North Texas from the 20-year coma into which Mean Green athletics slipped in the 1980s and 90s.
For the past four years, Case has hosted the Coaches Caravan, continuing to drum up support for the Mean Green.
"I tell a lot of ex-teammates, I'm ashamed of them for not taking more pride in the school, and that goes for any alumni in the Metroplex," Case said. "In a sense, a former player owes it to the school. You were given a scholarship, an education. You wouldn't be where you are today if it wasn't for North Texas."
Case counts himself among those who owe his success to North Texas. After joining the Mean Green football team as a walk-on, he earned the starting quarterback job in 1978 and 1979. He still owns the second-highest career-completion percentage in school history, and was inducted into the North Texas Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
More importantly, the lessons learned at North Texas propelled Case to his current heights, at the head of industry-leading dealerships in Plano and Grapevine. Utilizing the lessons ingrained by Fry, Case went from selling cars to managing and finally to being part-owner and president of Park Place Lexus, then further employed coach Fry's teachings to earn the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in 2005, making Park Place the first and only car dealership to ever win the award.
"One of the things that made coach Fry so good, we were always prepared," Case explained. "Every bit of what he taught helped me go into the business world."
Case's efforts for the university and athletic department have been relentless, from contributing to the decade-long facilities construction projects to making sure there are North Texas chrome car magnets in his dealerships.
But the work to grow the North Texas fan base has been closer to home recently, as Case and his wife have labored to convert his grandson into a Mean Green supporter.
"We've been showing him photos, telling him about when Pop played," Case said. "He just sees me as Pop, not a quarterback. I started taking him to games because I want him to feel what it's about, get him to taste it. All he knows is `Green Mean' right now, but it's in his head."
Case may have sealed the deal by getting his grandson one of the North Texas black carbon-fiber helmets from the Heart of Dallas Bowl, which is grandson would sleep in if his parents allowed.
Unfortunately, however, the Mean Green's 36-14 New Year's Day win over UNLV was not to be a grandfather-grandson moment for Case.
"Personally, I was pretty angry, because I was sick and missed the game," said Case, who was laid low by a parasite contracted on a trip to Africa that left him on antibiotics for three months and forced to watch the game on television from his bed. "The sickest I've ever been in my life.
"But, watching that game, I couldn't have been more proud. I'm so proud right now of the program and the direction its going," he added. "As a former player, it was, 'My God, it's finally starting to look like something.' It's like watching a kid grow up. It's so good to see."