Mason Fine had one job as he watched the most exciting play of the college football season unfold.
As Keegan Brewer raced 90 yards with a surreptitious punt return that set the tone in North Texas’ 44-17 victory at Arkansas, the Mean Green quarterback was charged with “making sure no one steps foot on the field.”
Fine admittedly wasn’t sold his team’s trick play would work. Brewer was told to catch the punt and stand there as if he’d called a fair catch, hoping no one would hit him. If he sold it well enough, his teammates and coaches would complete the deception — and ensure the Mean Green wouldn’t be called for too many men on the field. All of it was to make sure no one in Razorback Stadium caught on to the chicanery.
“I remember when it was happening, I had to catch myself from running on the football field — and I knew it was coming,” Fine told Sporting News. “I didn’t think it was going to work, to be honest with you. I was like, ‘Man, you’re going to get my guy Keegan killed!’ I was watching it and I was like ‘Holy crap, they’re not tackling him; this might actually work.’ And then he just started running.”
LISTEN: Fine describes his role on the fake fair catch-punt return TD:
LISTEN: Fine explains why OSU, OU and Tulsa didn’t offer him a scholarship:
LISTEN: Fine talks about the Mean Green’s physical dominance of the Hogs:
“Went out there and really dominated on all three sides of the ball,” UNT coach Seth Littrell said this week during his news conference. “That’s a credit to those guys, their preparation and what they continue to do every week.”
It’s also a credit to Littrell for changing the culture in Denton, Texas — something he knew a little about before becoming the Mean Green’s coach. The former Oklahoma fullback helped helped Bob Stoops transform Oklahoma into a national champion as a senior team captain in 2000. Now, he’s doing the same thing at North Texas.
To read the rest of the Sporting News story on how Oklahomans Mason Fine and Seth Littrell have led a resurgence at North Texas, click here:
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.