Dabo Swinney once looked up at Mack Brown as the model for coaching college football. Now the tables have turned, and Brown now wants to emulate what Swinney does at Clemson.
The two will meet in Chapel Hill on Saturday when Swinney’s No. 1 Clemson team takes on the North Carolina football team.
Way back before Swinney ever took the head coaching job at Clemson, he visited Brown’s staff at Texas. Swinney wanted to learn from a coach that had established himself as a national champion and one of the best minds in football.
It worked, as he has become one of the best in the business and the coach that people aspire to be.
“From our standpoint, we want to be the Clemson of the Coastal," Brown said. "They are the best team in the country, they are the best team in the ACC, they are dominating the ACC and all of us are trying to catch them.”
In order to do this, Brown is attempting to take what Swinney did at Clemson and implement it in the North Carolina program.
“He’s made them believe,” Brown said. “We went through the same process that he’s going through.”
Brown said he and Swinney have “grown up together” and have many of the same coaching philosophies.
“Our program is run very much like Clemson’s,” Brown said. “Dabo and I have been dear friends for many years and I’ve watched his program closely, and I’ve pulled for him.”
Brown won’t be pulling for him on Saturday when he brings college football’s newest dynasty to UNC. It will be a difficult task for the Tar Heels to defeat Clemson, but Brown welcomes the opportunity.
“How exciting for our university and our program to have the defending national champion and No. 1 team in the country coming to Kenan on Saturday for an ABC national TV game,” Brown said.
This game is all about exposure for North Carolina. It’s a chance to show off the program on a national stage, even though Clemson will likely win convincingly. Despite the Tigers’ skill and dominance, Brown believes his guys will be up to the task this week.
“When you play the best in the country, it's a great challenge for you, and with challenge there’s opportunity to see how you stand up to them,” Brown said.
The defense will have its work cut out for them against Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. He is a generational talent and NFL teams are already eyeing him as a potential No. 1 overall draft pick.
“I don’t think the quarterback has ever lost a game in his life,” Brown said. “And that’s not good, because that’s really good.”
After two straight losses, a matchup with Lawrence and Clemson is not what the Tar Heels need. One would think that Brown may use the underdog angle to motivate his players, but that is not the case. He wants to change the culture, just like Swinney did at Clemson.
“This is not a chip-on-the-shoulder school,” Brown said. “We need to be a great program. We don’t need to be a chip on the shoulder. That’s hard to sell here.”
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