Dickey fired with 3 years remaining on contract
DENTON, Texas -- North Texas coach Darrell Dickey was fired Wednesday with the Mean Green already assured their second straight losing season since winning four Sun Belt Conference titles in a row.
Athletic director Rick Villarreal said Dickey, who has three years left on his contract, will not return in 2007. Dickey is expected to coach the final three games this season for North Texas (2-7).
Dickey became coach in 1998, three years after North Texas moved up to NCAA Division I-A. He is 41-62 in his ninth season, with a 33-20 conference record.
North Texas won four straight Sun Belt titles and went to the New Orleans Bowl every year from 2001-04. But the Mean Green were 2-9 last season after losing their last six games.
"I have made an informed decision to seek new leadership for our football program," Villarreal said. "It's time for North Texas to seek a new head coach to lead our football program to a position of prominence in the Sun Belt Conference and to a more competitive position at the national level."
School spokesman Eric Capper said Dickey declined comment.
The last year has also been difficult for the 46-year-old Dickey off the field. He found out after last season that he was diabetic, then missed a game last month after having a heart attack.
North Texas was only 19-48 in its return to I-A after losing its first five games in 2001. The Mean Green then won five straight Sun Belt games and the automatic New Orleans Bowl berth, becoming the first team in NCAA history to play in a bowl game after an 0-5 start.
The Mean Green stretched their Sun Belt winning streak to 26 games in a row until a 13-10 loss to Troy in October 2005.
While North Texas lost its first bowl appearance, the Mean Green's victory over Cincinnati in the 2002 New Orleans Bowl was the school's first since 1946. The following season, the Mean Green won nine games for the first time since 1978.
But they have always struggled in non-conference games. The Mean Green regularly play road games against national powers like Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas State for big checks to sustain their entire athletic program.
Before his coaching career, Dickey started at quarterback for all four of his seasons at Kansas State (1979-82), where his dad was his coach. Dickey was an assistant coach at Memphis, UTEP, SMU, LSU and Mississippi State before North Texas hired him.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press