School officials said Tuesday, only hours before spring practice began, that the deal was imminent. Attorneys were reviewing the new contract that will take McCarney through the 2018 season.
''What they did was, in putting a contract in place really, is showing appreciation for changing the culture at this place. It's showing appreciation for how we do it, and the way we've done it on the field, in the classroom, in Denton, and how we handle things,'' McCarney said. ''I think it's a sign of support for all of my guys, all of my staff, my program, our program. ... I appreciate that opportunity to stay here. I'm not looking to leave. I love this place.''
The new deal has been expected since before the Mean Green beat UNLV 36-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on New Year's Day to wrap up a 9-4 season. North Texas came within one victory during the regular season of getting into the Conference USA championship game in their first year in that league.
The 60-year-old McCarney, the former Iowa State head coach who was an assistant for Hayden Fry at Iowa and Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, is 18-19 in three seasons with the Mean Green. They were 13-58 the six seasons before he arrived.
McCarney still had two years left on his initial five-year contract that was to go through the 2015 season.
Along with his new deal, McCarney also got pay raises for his assistant coaches. His top two assistants - offensive coach Mike Canales and defensive coordinator John Skladany -are getting new two-year contracts, through the 2015 season.
''It's not just me. I'm only as good as the people I surround myself with,'' McCarney said. ''People said it's a sleeping giant, it's a sleeping giant. We finally woke that giant up. We've got him awake.''
McCarney enthusiastically pointed out that spring practice was starting 62 days after the bowl game.
''Not very long. That's a good thing,'' he said. ''Any time you don't have much time between the end of last season and the beginning of the next one that means you've had a pretty good year. ... The challenge ahead is this, are we a real program.''
The Mean Green lost some senior players at key positions, including quarterback Derek Thompson, speedy receiver/kick returner Brelan Chancellor and linebacker Zach Orr.
''We want to keep this great momentum going, this positive momentum that we've got,'' McCarney said. ''So that we're not just a flash in the pan, win nine, got your bowl victory, got your bowl championship and then go on back down where you've been for many, many years getting your tail kicked all the time. We'd like to be a factor in the race every year and we'd like to be a program that people appreciate and respect all the time.''
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