"Its a whole different culture, really," he said.
It'd be easy for those Tar Heel upperclassmen to feel a more than a little jaded after finishing 2-9 last season and 3-9 the year prior. But with the return of Brown, who coached UNC from 1988 to 1997 and won a national championship with Texas in 2005, came a fresh start and hope for redemption.
"Coach Mack, he's a legendary guy," Rene said. "As soon as he walks in the room, you notice him. He brings a culture of winning, a winning culture here at Carolina. I feel like the guys are starting to buy into that, and we really believe it."
As for Brown himself, he seems to have made one thing clear to his new team above all else: the past is the past.
"I told them yesterday that we would never mention four years ago, three years ago, two years ago or last year again," Brown said. "It’s a new team. So this team hasn’t lost a game, and this team has a chance to start out right with a new era. They have a chance to leave their seniors with a legacy moving forward and that’s what they want to do, and I felt like they had that attitude today. So we’re not going to talk about the past anymore, good or bad."
According to some Tar Heels, the difference between then and now is, in a word, tangible.
"We spend a lot more time, and a lot more attention to detail warming up, and doing a lot more stretching, a lot more mobility," Crawford said. "We’re doing a lot more football-related conditioning, football-related activity than we’ve done in the past. The attention to detail is a lot greater."
Rene agreed with Crawford's statement.
"Coach has an attention to detail," he said. "He's very focused, and he really prepares for what he does."
Another point of emphasis for Brown has been building trust, most crucially with the Tar Heels who grew accustomed to old leadership.
"We had a couple that were sick today, and they decided to practice," Brown said. "They wouldn’t have done that three months ago with us, so that was a great plus, and I’ll brag on them tonight when I get in the dressing room."
So far, early returns from the veterans are positive.
"You can really tell (Brown) cares about us. He really takes pride in what he does, and we feel that, we really appreciate that," Rene said. "He's getting us better each and every day."
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