North Texas Mean Green football program represents University of North Texas in the sport of American football. The Mean Green compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the West Division of Conference USA (CUSA). They are coached by Seth Littrell, who started in 2016. North Texas has produced 24 conference championship titles, with 8 postseason bowl appearances and four appearances in the I-AA Playoffs. The Mean Green play their home games at the Apogee Stadium which has a seating capacity of 30,850.
Though coach Hayden Fry left the school in 1978 with a 9–3 season, he also left it with a mounting athletics debt, and the team was subsequently demoted to Division I-AA status by the NCAA. In 1982, the university recognized that the athletics program had a deficit of $1.6 million and voted to join the Southland Conference. The program experienced little success in subsequent years, but in 1995, a coordinated campaign by donors to purchase large blocks of seats at Fouts Field spiked the average attendance enough for the school to enter Division I-A once again in 1995.
After the school joined the Sun Belt Conference in 2001, Darrell Dickey briefly revived fortunes in Denton, winning four straight conference championships. The Mean Green played in the 2001 New Orleans Bowl despite a regular-season finish at 5–6 after winning the Sun Belt title with a 5–1 conference record. After going 2–9 and 3–9 in his eighth and ninth seasons, the athletic department fired Dickey on November 8, 2006.
The school then hired Todd Dodge, who had been offensive coordinator at UNT from 1991 to 1992, on December 12, 2006. Dodge had been one of the nation's most successful high school football coaches, amassing a 98–11 record overall at Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, including a 79-1 record over his last five years. His teams at UNT struggled to win, however, compiling a 6-37 record overall and a 3–23 record in conference play. After a 1–6 start to the 2010 season, the school fired Dodge. He was replaced by offensive coordinator Mike Canales as interim head coach. In 2011, the university hired Dan McCarney as head coach. McCarney was the head coach at Iowa State from 1995 through 2006; he then served as defensive line coach for both the University of South Florida and the University of Florida just prior to his hiring at North Texas.
On May 4, 2012, the school held a press conference announcing that it had accepted an invitation to join Conference USA beginning with the 2013–2014 season. Florida International University, Louisiana Tech University, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and the University of Texas at San Antonio will begin play in Conference USA in 2013 as well, bringing the conference to 13 members. The Mean Green finished 9-4 in their first season in Conference USA. They competed in the 2014 Heart of Dallas Bowl against the UNLV Rebels in which they won, 36-14. It was their first bowl game since 2004 and first win since 2002.
After the Heart of Dallas Bowl victory, the team saw two declining years; finishing 4–8 in 2014, and a 1–11 record in 2015, which included a 66–7 loss to Portland State, the worst loss by an FBS school to an FCS program. After that loss, Dan McCarney was fired. Near the end of the season, North Texas hired the previous offensive coordinator at the University of North Carolina, Seth Littrell, to take over the reins in 2016.
Since 2011, the Mean Green have played at Apogee Stadium, formerly named Mean Green Stadium. The stadium seats 30,850. The team boasts a 17-11 record at the stadium and went 5-1 there in 2013. The average attendance was 21,030 at the stadium in 2013, the highest at the stadium and in the team's history. It is named after ResNet provider Apogee, who paid for the naming rights. The highest ever attended game at the stadium occurred on September 9, 2011 for the inaugural game versus the Houston Cougars in which 28,075 saw the Mean Green fall to the Cougars. The stadium has never been sold out, but is expandable to 50,000 if ever necessary. The stadium is widely viewed as one of the best smaller college football stadiums. It is part of the Mean Green Village, an athletic complex situated at the intersection of Interstate 35 east and west. The stadium is recognizable by its trademark eagle wing in the endzone, facing the freeway. It is the first stadium to be LEED certified, powered by three electric windmills.
From 1952 to 2010, the team played its home games at Fouts Field. The first game was a 55–0 win over the North Dakota Fighting Sioux in 1952. The final Mean Green game was a 41–49 loss to the Kansas State Wildcats in 2010. The Mean Green posted a final record at Fouts Field of 155–100–7. From 1971 through 2001, the Mean Green played 21 home games at Texas Stadium in Irving, Texas, 32 miles away from the university's campus in Denton. The team posted a 9-12 record while playing selected home games in Irving. Only one season, 1972, saw the Mean Green play more games at Texas Stadium (4) than on their home field (1) in Denton.
Since the first season of the program in 1913, North Texas has been in eight conferences including Conference USA which the Mean Green joined in 2013.Years listed for Bowl victories are seasons for which they occurred.
North Texas has won over 20 conference champion titles since 1932 with the Mean Green's latest one in 2004.
North Texas has played in 8 NCAA-sanctioned bowl games with a record of 2–6.
The Optimist Bowl is listed in NCAA records, but was not an NCAA-sanctioned bowl game.
The Safeway Bowl, is the North Texas-SMU rivalry. It was first played in 1922 and has played 36 times. The Safeway name is derived from a challenge from then North Texas head coach Matt Simon issued in 1994 after a two-year break in the series, stating "I'd like to play because I think we could beat them, and my players feel the same way. If they'd like to play on a Safeway parking lot ... just give us a date and time." The rivalry is either played in Dallas or Denton. In total the two squads have met on the gridiron 36 times with SMU holding a 30–5–1 lead in the series.
The series was first played in 2013 as North Texas joined UTSA as conference foes in CUSA. The rivalry quickly became established in the first meeting between the two teams in 2013 as UTSA's win kept North Texas from playing in the conference championship. The rivalry is either played in San Antonio or Denton. In total the two squads have met on the gridiron 4 times with UTSA holding a 3–1 lead in the series.
Official record (including any NCAA imposed vacates and forfeits) against all current CUSA opponents:
Announced schedules as of December 21, 2016