The University of North Texas's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Ford resigned this week.
Anyone who read my UNT postseason review knows that I was not a fan of Coach Ford's work this year and felt he should have been fired after the season. As such, I am pleased coach Ford has taken a position as a high school head coach.
That said, I think coach Ford's decision was extremely magnanimous and it shows a lot about him as a person that he may have recognized that he is not where he needs to be to be a coordinator at the FBS level yet. Average coaches who can identify their weak areas often become great coaches down the road.
It shows a lot of character that coach Ford did not put every coach on this staff at risk in this make or break year by trying to grow into the position.
It also shows a lot of intelligence in taking what sounds like a pretty good job now while his stock is at a high rather than taking whatever was available next year when potentially he could have been fired with the rest of the staff.
Coach Ford may have had a very poor season last year as a coach, but there are a lot of indications he may become a much better coach in the future.
I certainly wish him the best. I hope he becomes a Todd Dodge-level coach at the high school level.
What is next for the Mean Green?
Ford's salary slot was somewhere apparently in the $90,000 range. That is a lot of coaching salary available at a time when a lot of top assistant coaches are available.
Basically, everywhere a head coach was fired, you can find some top assistants looking for jobs. It seems like every team has two or three star assistants.
Todd Dodge has said he hopes to hire someone from outside to be his new offensive coordinator. He is looking for an advocate of a balanced attack and has his eyes on some assistants on other staffs that he will investigate first before considering internal promotions.
I think that amounts to wasting money. After all it isn't like Todd Dodge's scheme doesn't work. Additionally, it seems pretty unlikely with an outside coach Dodge will feel comfortable allowing big chunks of his offensive scheme to be replaced or to allow someone else full control of play calling.
So...What's the point?
I think the smart move would be offering a big chunk of Ford's salary slot to former Texas Tech Special Teams Coordinator Eric Russell.
Russell was a part of UNT's coaching staff for 13 years. His special teams were the best in the Sun Belt.
Dodge chose not to retain Russell when the former Southlake coach walked in the door and has had enormous troubles with his special teams units ever since.
Russell has already been interviewed by California. I hope he might still let UNT make an offer if he isn't snapped up by Cal.
If UNT has any money left, I think Dodge should look for a designated quarterback coach who is strong on mechanics, proven, and (hopefully) willing to work for less.
My recommendation would be former NFL quarterback Steve Deberg. He had a disastrous run as an arena league head coach and could likely really use a job like this—even if it turns out to be a one and done with a minimal salary—to get his resume back on track.
DeBerg learned the importance of ball placement and not taking unnecessary chances late in his NFL career. It was apparently a hard lesson and those lesson stick the best.
Deberg was a master of the ball fake to set up the deep pass—something that would be immensely useful for QB Riley Dodge. Deberg would help Riley Dodge in a number of areas in which the young QB struggled last season.
WR Coach Clayton George, Dodge's former OC at Southlake and a former high school head coach himself, could take over the OC job.
If coach Dodge insists on blowing all of the salary slot on an outsider to groom to become the next offensive coordinator (or co-offensive coordinator with Dodge), I hope he considers former Kansas and Rice wide receiver coach David Beaty.
Beaty appears to be a star on the rise to me. His receivers at both schools were dynamite and were some of the strongest players on a pair of very good bowl teams.
His earlier background is quite strong as well. He was part of a staff that won the Texas 5A Division II title in 1999. He was a high school head coach in Dallas/Forth Worth (Coach Dodge's former stomping grounds) at North Dallas and MacArthur High Schools from 2001-2005, racking up a 39-15 record.
He looks like a coaching star on the rise to me and one that we might land. I hope he is considered.
Todd Ford is a young coach who has given UNT a tremendous opportunity to get better through this selfless act. I hope Coach Dodge and Athletic Director Rick Villareal will use this opportunity to it's maximum benefit.