Now that Johnny Jones has left North Texas for his “dream job” at LSU. There is a lot of speculation and debate over who will be the next coach of the Mean Green men’s basketball program. While names can be thrown around and debated on endlessly, there is one simple fact that everyone can agree on. Johnny Jones left UNT’s program in far better shape than when he arrived back in 2001.
When Jones arrived the basketball program was in horrible shape, and it was the type of job a coach would take just to get some head coaching experience. But during his tenure, there started to be a revitalization of the program, and there was a beam of hope for success. Over the next 11 years Johnny Jones took the UNT men’s basketball program to unprecedented heights.
He had five consecutive seasons of 20 wins or more, took the Mean Green to two NCAA Tournament appearances and had UNT become a contender in the Sun Belt Conference. He even made it popular for local talent to give UNT a hard look and even brought in some great talent to make the turn around all that more spectacular.
The next head coach of the Mean Green will have a far easier job than Johnny Jones did and they will have an easier time getting fans into the “Super Pit” because of what Jones was able to accomplish. The UNT job is no longer a job that is taken just because; it is now a seen as a quality job and could be a great step up for the right assistant or small program head coach.
No matter whom the next head coach is, he will be able to do more than Jones did in his first few seasons, but at the same time he will now have more pressure to keep the program up to the standard it has been at and improve it. Now when UNT calls to inquire with a coach about the job, the coach will listen.
UNT fans and alumni should not hold any ill will towards Johnny Jones for moving on, they should be thankful he took the program from a wasteland to respectable in 11 years. Things are looking up for the Mean Green and Jones is the one to thank for that.