North Texas is enjoying its greatest season in forever and has determined just how high it can go in an effort to do the impossible: Keep football coach Seth Littrell from leaving Denton for a different gig.
Sources tell the Star-Telegram that the Conference USA school is prepared to go as high as $2 million per season to retain Littrell.
From a budget standpoint, sources said UNT can do that figure. Anything beyond that may just be too much.
The goal at UNT is to make the gig good enough that it will take Littrell’s dream job to leave Denton.
After the 2016 season, Littrell’s first at UNT, the school came up with a new, 5-year contract that elevated his overall compensation to a little more than $1 million. That made him one of the highest paid coaches in the 14-school C-USA.
After a historic win at Arkansas on Sept. 15, the Mean Green became college football’s most endearing little-school story of the season. Only a 29-27 home loss to Louisiana Tech is preventing UNT from a perfect record, and most likely a spot in the AP Top 25.
North Texas is currently 6-1 overall and 2-1 in conference.
With all of this positive attention comes the inevitable speculation that the head coach will leave for a Power 5 job as soon as possible.
Littrell was recently named one of the 20 candidates to the Paul “Bear” Bryant Awards watch list as the top coach in college football this season.
After finishing 5-8 in Littrell’s first year, UNT is 15-6 since the start of the ‘17 season. The Mean Green reached the New Orleans Bowl last season but lost.
Assuming UNT continues to win under Littrell, the question is which Power 5 team calls first.
With Texas Tech on good footing at the moment under Kliff Kingsbury, the Red Raiders will not be on the list of potential suitors.
The only job in the Big 12 that may come open is Kansas, and Littrell will, and should, be more selective than to accept a job that is one of the hardest in America.
Other potential openings after the season include Maryland, Louisville, Rutgers and North Carolina. None of those jobs are exactly a dream for any aspiring Power 5 head coach.
All of those jobs can offer more money, but all of them are places where good coaches go to die.
It has taken UNT decades to be in this position. While it fully recognizes the realities of not being in a Power 5 conference, it is ready to do everything within its budget to keep Littrell as long as possible.