The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday May 28th

COLUMN: For UNC football, a potential return to prominence comes under Mack Brown

Everyone knows that North Carolina is a basketball powerhouse, just look at the banners that hang in the Dean Smith Center. Everyone remembers where they watched as the minutes ticked down and vengeance was earned against Gonzaga in 2017. But lately, Tar Heels fans haven’t had much to cheer for regarding the football program. 

The Larry Fedora experiment started off strong, as he went 8-4 in his first season paired with four straight bowl appearances from 2013-2016. However, the past two seasons were dismal with a combined five wins. A 1-7 conference record last season left many empty seats, so many that the University cut 12,000 seats out of Kenan Memorial Stadium for 2019 and beyond. 

Rest assured, there is sunshine in the forecast as this storm passes. Hope came in the form of an old coach who led the team to glory in the late 1980s and majority of the 1990s: Mack Brown. Just hearing the name alone sends some Tar Heel fans rejoicing at the sweet memories. 

Six straight bowl appearances from 1992-1997 proved that Brown could win. He could recruit, too, and stars like Julius Peppers, who was recruited by Brown but played under Carl Torbush and John Bunting, made UNC a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. 

The one glaring question I have for Brown and the football program is can there be a reassertion of dominance? Will Brown still be “Coach February” by making the program attractive to recruits?

Since taking over the program at Texas in 1998, Brown has won no less than five games per season, with an undefeated season in 2005 paired with a national championship in the Rose Bowl. Can he duplicate the results in Chapel Hill like he did in Austin? 

Brown will not have the resources he had at Texas. He never won an ACC title with in Chapel Hill, and the last time UNC won the ACC was in 1980. Brown’s coaching return will prove his greatness as a coach if he is successful, but it’s a big 'if.' He inherits a team coming off a 2-9 season. If he wants to find the success he had, Brown must make the most of the recruits he has entering the program. 

There will be some skeptics, and some fans who will never forgive his move away from the team to coach Texas after he announced he had no plans to leave North Carolina. All skepticism aside, Tar Heel fans have something they haven’t had in a while: hope. While it remains to be seen, there is a good chance that the return of the Mack could yield good results for North Carolina football, and return to prominence in the ACC.    

Landon Judy

Appalachian State University Class of 2020

History, social studies education 

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