North Texas fires Littrell after .500 record over 7 years

Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
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DENTON, Texas – Bowl-bound North Texas has fired coach Seth Littrell, who went 44-44 over seven seasons.

University president Neal Smatresk said Sunday night that the decision to make the move came after a thorough assessment of the program.

The Mean Green are 7-6 this season after losing 48-27 to UTSA in the Conference USA championship game Friday night.

Phil Bennett, their defensive coordinator the past two seasons, was named interim head coach. North Texas plays Boise State in the Frisco Bowl on Dec. 17.

The 44-year-old Littrell had one year left on his contract in what was his first head coaching job. He was the youngest coach in Conference USA and one of the youngest at the FBS level when he arrived after two seasons as offensive coordinator at North Carolina with UNT coming off a 1-11 season at the time.

While the Mean Green are going to their sixth bowl since Littrell first got there, they haven’t won any of those yet. The bowl in his debut season came after only five wins since there weren’t enough bowl-eligible teams to fill all of the slots. Consecutive nine-win seasons followed in 2017 and 2018, but they then had three consecutive losing records before this year.

North Texas also has an interim athletic director after Wren Baker was named as West Virginia’s AD last week.

Smatresk said Jared Mosley, the chief operating officer of UNT athletics, will serve as interim AD. The university is working with a search firm to find Baker’s successor.

No. 23 USTA tops North Texas 48-27 in C-USA title game

USA Today
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SAN ANTONIO – Frank Harris threw for 341 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 49 yards and another score, lifting No. 23 UTSA to its second-straight Conference USA championship with a 48-27 victory over North Texas on Friday night at the Alamodome.

UTSA knocked off North Texas for the second time in six weeks. In a game on Oct. 21, it took Harris’ 10-yard pass to De'Corian Clark with 15 seconds remaining to give UTSA a 31-27 victory.

Not wanting a repeat of its regular-season finale a week earlier in which UTSA found itself in a 24-0 hole against UTEP, the team came out firing from the start, scoring on the opening possession.

After falling behind 10-7, the Roadrunners reeled off 17 unanswered points, including 10 in the final 1:12 of the first half to take a 24-10 lead at the break and never trailed again.

Harris and the offense, which has scored at least 30 points in 12 of 13 games this season, kept the pressure on, rolling up 571 yards of total offense. Harris had scoring passes of 32, 14, and 39 yards to senior Zakhari Franklin, and his fourth – a 16-yard toss to junior tight end Oscar Cardenas – sealed the victory with 4:07 left.

Junior quarterback Austin Aune, who engineered a scoring drive that got North Texas within 34-27 early in fourth quarter, threw for 194 yards and score, but was picked off twice.

The Roadrunners, who ran the table in conference play this season, improved to 11-2 and will await a bowl invitation. Projections include a potential bid from the New Orleans Bowl. North Texas fell to 7-6 and is bowl-eligible.

C-USA FAREWELL

The title game marked the final Conference-USA game for both programs, which are set to join the AAC beginning next season. UTSA leaves with back-to-back crowns and UNT bows out with two straight losses in the title gamet. The Mean Green lost to Florida Atlantic 41-17 in the 2017 C-USA championship.

WILL HE, WON’T HE?

Harris, a sixth-year senior who will still have one year of eligibility, has not decided if he will come back next season as the Runners’ signal caller. He set UTSA passing records for yards in season (3,865), career (9,158) and TDs in a season (31) and career (73).

QBS FOR THE BOOKS

While Franklin was setting a UTSA record for career touchdowns, UNT’s Aune’s lone scoring toss gave him a UNT season-record 32 touchdowns passes.

Florida Atlantic hires Tom Herman as football coach

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BOCA RATON, Fla. – Former Texas and Houston head coach Tom Herman will take over at Florida Atlantic as it heads into its first season in the American Athletic Conference.

The hire comes just days after FAU fired Willie Taggart, who went 15-18 in his three seasons with the Owls. Details of the contract with Herman were not immediately available.

“We are incredibly excited to welcome Tom Herman to Paradise,” FAU Director of Athletics Brian White said Thursday. “Throughout the process and the more we talked with Coach Herman, the more it became apparent to me that he was the right person to lead our football program. Beyond his knowledge of the game, which is obvious by his success over the years, he also truly cares about the young people in his program.”

FAU’s final season in Conference USA ended with a 5-7 record and an overtime loss to Western Kentucky. The Owls will be in the American next season.

Herman returns to college football after spending the 2021 season with the Chicago Bears as an offensive analyst.

Herman was 22-4 at Houston, a mark that helped him land the head coaching job at Texas where he went 32-18 with four straight bowl trips in 2017-2020. He also was an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Ohio State during the Buckeyes’ 2014 national championship season, as well as stops at Iowa State, Rice and Texas State.

“All the pieces are in place at FAU for us to be successful,” Herman said. “There are already great young men on this team, great facilities, a great location, a great recruiting base and great leadership, all of which are important to building a successful program.”