CHARLOTTE — Newly hired North Carolina head coach Mack Brown is back at Chapel Hill for a second time in his career. Brown plans to take what he has learned from his time at Texas and apply it to the Tar heels, who he took to an 11-1 season back in 1997.
Brown said he learned he will never let a staff have too much control again.
Clemson will visit the Tar Heels on Sept. 28.
Brown on his return to UNC
“Never thought we’d coach again. Bubba called at the end of the year. It had been a year after the Hall of Fame where we talked to a lot of different players that played for us. They all talked about how much we meant in their lives. They’re talking to their children about things we talked to them about. Walking out of the building at North Carolina in August of last year, Sally said, ‘There’s two things I learned tonight. Number one, you better not tell a kid something as a coach unless you mean it because he’s going to remember it. Number two, there’s a void in your life and you love mentoring young people, and you can’t do that right now with TV. I understand that better now.’ It was just a blessing for us. I hated to see Larry go. When Bubba called and asked us to come, I thought it was the only place I had permission to coach, number one. It’s a place that we loved. We had some unfinished business. We’re excited to go back. We’ve had a wonderful eight months.”
Brown on the QB situation at UNC
“We told the guys we’ll make the decision in the fall about who will start, who will play. It will be the guy that moves the team the best and gets them in the end zone. That’s just it. The biggest decision we have to make in the next month and a half is who starts at quarterback against South Carolina. All three are talented enough, all three are good enough, all three are young. You have a redshirted freshman. It’s a blessing in disguise. You always worry about the transfer portal when you start talking about quarterbacks because if they’re not playing, they usually want to transfer. We’ve got to figure all that out.”
Brown on incorporating the air raid offense
“The thing I think is overused is the term “air raid.” What I want is a team that can throw the ball as well as anyone in the country. The air raid offenses have been doing that. I watched it for 16 years at Texas with Mike Leach and with Kliff Kingsbury. The thing that was missing with them, in my estimation, was the power running game. What happened with Lincoln Riley at Oklahoma, what happened with Phil Longo at Ole Miss is they’re taking the air raid concepts, spreading people out, but they’re running the football. They have two backs in a lot of cases or a tight end. It’s still the old power running game. I love the combination of both. So when I was at Carolina, I know we had the most thousand-yard rushers in the country. I don’t know how that’s calculated over the last few years. I haven’t looked back. But we will still be a prominent power running team that will also throw the ball. In the air raid offense, they throw it deep.”
Brown discusses unfinished business
“Yes, when we left, we were fourth in the country, I think. We had just won 10, then won 11. We were recruiting as well as anybody in the country. We were getting most of the guys we wanted out of the state of North Carolina, some out of Virginia, some out of South Carolina and Georgia. We were really on a roll. Because of a lot of different circumstances, Sally and I thought it was best for us to leave at that time. But we did feel bad leaving a great team. I think there were 20, 22 guys off that defense drafted in ’96 and ’97. We want to come back and get it back like it was. But even better, we’d love nothing more than to win a national championship here.”
Brown on what he can use from his time at Texas
“I think the thing that I learned is, I will never let a staff have too much control again, which is a strong statement , but I’m the one responsible for everything that happens in football at the University of North Carolina. So I need to make those final decisions. I’ll get their input. Same thing with recruiting. I’m the one that knows who fits the place better than anyone else, so I need to make those final decisions. The other thing I’ll do is you get into coaching because you love the game and you love the players. If you’re not careful, you win so many games, it becomes about the wins more than anything else.”