The coaching shuffle continues and it's blowing up Seth Littrell's staff as Power 5's continue to go after North Texas assistants.
The latest and biggest blow came today when Mike Ekeler left to take a similar job on the staff at North Carolina. Ekeler's infectious enthusiasm was ever present for the Mean Green and he and co-defensive coordinator Troy Reffett oversaw a tremendous defensive turnaround. The Mean Green improved from 120th to 89th in total defense even with sparse depth, particularly on the defensive line.
Ekeler's exit comes on the heals of defensive line coach Derrick LeBlanc accepting the same position at Kentucky as well as offensive line coach Brad Davis leaving for Florida. One would expect that each move comes with a substantial pay increase and the Mean Green couldn't compete with the Power 5 offers.
Two larger points are at play and intertwined, first Seth Littrell put together a very good staff in his first season at North Texas. When SEC and ACC schools are poaching your staff, you've got talent there. Second, now it's up to Littrell to fill these giant voids. Ekeler will be hard to replace given his experience and proven abilities at Georgia, USC, and Nebraska. Davis did wonders with what was one of the most depleted offensive line units in the country in 2016.
Ekeler's absence is mitigated by the fact that Reffett appears to be staying. His multiple odd-man defense was the foundation for the Mean Green's success.
We'll keep you posted on the next moves for Littrell and company as they fill their open positions.