“I hope to be remembered for my loyalty and respect for the university. That’s all I can hope for.” – Fred McCain
With a population of just over 16,000, Gainesville, Texas is by no means a well-known city but it is the birthplace of Fred Noel McCain, former North Texas football star, coach, and Director of the NTSU Coliseum and Athletics Department. Born on January 7, 1923, McCain began his football playing career in high school where his talent as a quarterback was rewarded in the form of multiple scholarships to universities like Harden-Simmons, Baylor, and of course, North Texas. McCain chose to play for the best.
In 1941 McCain played under North Texas State College head coach Jack Sisco for two seasons until his football aspirations were put on hold as a result of World War II. McCain joined the Navy in 1943 and served as an officer until 1946 where he returned to North Texas to not only continue playing football, but also lead the Eagles to victory as a quarterback and captain in the 1946 Optimist Bowl. The next year McCain helped earn the team a 10-2 record breaking season and an appearance in the grueling 1947 Salad Bowl. However, McCain’s college life did not solely revolve around sports. As an undergraduate, McCain served three years on the North Texas Athletic Council, held the title of Vice-President of the “T” Club in 1942, functioned as the sheriff for the Talons Fraternity and was an avid member of the NTSC football squad. In 1948, McCain graduated with a major in Physical Education and a minor in Mathematics. In 1949, he received his Master’s degree in Administrative Education and married his long time sweetheart and fellow NTSC graduate Mary Lou Ray.
Knowing full well that he wanted to make a name for himself coaching football, but also realizing he lacked experience, McCain returned to his hometown as an assistant coach for the Gainesville High School team. His first learning experience was short lived; after only two seasons in Gainesville, McCain was recruited by his alma mater in 1950 to coach the freshmen and offensive teams under Odus Mitchell. McCain aided in the making of history in 1956 when he played a central role in recruiting African-American students Abner Haynes and Leon King to the North Texas team. In a period where collegiate integration was just beginning to take hold in Texas, McCain helped the university to become one of the first in the state to integrate a collegiate athletic program. Further accomplishments were made possible through McCain’s charisma and aptitude as a coach. In addition to being an inspiring and effective role model for the team, he had no problem drawing future professional footballers such as Vernon Cole and Joe Greene into the fold of North Texas alumni. Read more