DENTON, Texas — Last fall, Seth Littrell’s name surfaced in head coach openings at Kansas State and Texas Tech, where the Muskogee native was running backs coach between 2005 and 2008.
According to multiple reports, Littrell, 40, removed his name from consideration for the K-State job while Tech hired Matt Wells from Utah State to replace Kliff Kingsbury, now head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals, who was fired after the Red Raiders’ season-ending loss to Baylor.
So, Littrell remains at North Texas, his first collegiate head coaching job. In three seasons, he is 23-17, leading the Mean Green to back-to-back nine-win seasons, one appearance in the Conference USA Championship Game and three bowl games.
In short, Denton is his happy place.
“Well, I think it’s an unbelievable place,” Littrell said at a Monday press conference on the first day of spring drills. “We’ve got a great team. Our players, I have high respect for these men, I love them. It’s a great community for family. Plus, I leave my footprint close to home.”
But it’s not just his players who help make UNT the place to be for the ex-Rougher. It’s also the entire community, fans and school’s administration.
“Our administration at this university-our president and our board of regents being on the same page, giving us the resources necessary to be successful (is great),” Littrell said. “I’ve said this a long time, I think the sky’s the limit for North Texas because of the people that are in place here, not only our administration, but our fans, the excitement. It’s an unbelievable place to coach at and I love it.”
Not only has UNT become a consistent winner under Littrell, but last September, the school broke ground on an indoor practice facility for the football and track teams next to Apogee Stadium scheduled to be completed this summer, one of many athletic facility upgrades.
And with the Mean Green’s recent upswing, several of his assistants have been courted by and hired by bigger schools, including Graham Harrell, Littrell’s former offensive coordinator now at USC.
“Really happy for the guys that got opportunities to they felt like made a better life for their families. That’s what I’ve always looked forward to, is helping every guy grow around me as they help me grow,” Littrell said. “There’s a lot of positive energy around our program right now. There’s been a lot of guys that got a lot of interest in coming to North Texas because of what we have to offer. It’s a credit to this university and this community, and a lot of credit to our players.”
One bonus of staying at UNT is continuing to coach standout quarterback Mason Fine, a Peggs native who is the leading passer in Mean Green history and the 2017 and 2018 C-USA Offensive Player of the Year.
Last season, Fine’s favorite target was fellow Okie Rico Bussey Jr., a Lawton product who paced UNT with 68 catches for 1,017 yards and 12 touchdowns. Littrell recruited Fine prior to the 2017 season and Fine became the starter as a freshman, and he’s ecstatic to see Littrell return for his senior year.
“He’s done a great job making sure I’m comfortable and not changing a whole lot,” Fine said. “If he’s going to change something, he always asks. We’ll throw ideas off each other. I’m just learning from him. He has a lot of knowledge.”
Littrell is proud how Fine, a product of Locust Grove High School, has developed and continues to be impressed by his now-senior signal caller’s strong work ethic on and off the field.
“He’s a gym rat. I think at that position you have to be, basically another coach that’s out on the field,” Littrell said of Fine. “He takes great pride in developing his leadership role. I think he’s done an excellent job. I think we’re blessed to have him. I know he’s going to work extremely hard and I know he is really excited about having a huge year this year for us.”
Even after being mentioned for two prominent Big 12 coaching openings last fall, Littrell still finds himself at North Texas, but the Muskogee native isn’t complaining. In his first three years in Denton, he’s made the Mean Green relevant again and now has his sights set on taking the program to the next level-winning a bowl game and reaching 10 wins for the first time since 1977.