CHARLOTTE — You could feel it in the air in Charlotte on Saturday as a newfound optimism circulated through the Carolina blue Tar Heel nation before the opening kick off between UNC and South …
Thanks for reading Chatham County’s leading news source! Please consider supporting community journalism by subscribing to the News + Record – you can do so by clicking here.
CHARLOTTE — You could feel it in the air in Charlotte on Saturday as a newfound optimism circulated through the Carolina blue Tar Heel nation before the opening kick off between UNC and South Carolina.
And the reason for the excitement came from one man. Yes, Mack Brown.
Much has been made over the controversial hiring of Brown just over nine months ago on November 27, 2018. But simply put, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill got it right. They spent the money, and got a big name coach, one that had spent 10 previous seasons in Chapel Hill as the head man, and knows the ins and outs of the Tar Heel state. And the 24-20 victory over South Carolina by UNC proved it.
UNC and its rival N.C. State had floundered around with South Carolina in three previous meetings with the Gamecocks, with the Tar Heels losing 27-10 in 2013, then completely gagging 17-13 in 2015 in what began the downward spiral off Larry Fedora, before N.C. State choked it away 35-28 in 2017.
For three quarters on Saturday, it looked as if the Gamecocks and their overrated windbag of a head coach Will Muschamp would take another victory over UNC and keep the streak of misery going for the locals teams. But behind Brown and a veteran coaching staff featuring the likes of Tim Brewster, UNC rallied from a 20-9 deficit at the end of three quarters with 15 points in the fourth to roar back for a 24-20 win.
Now those that laughed at the hiring of the 68-year old Brown aren’t finding things quite as comical as they did nine months ago.
Brown’s impact had already been felt in the recruiting circles, and on Saturday his coaching experience and ability to rally his young troops in a positive and confident manner proved to be the difference in the game. The Tar Heels never gave up, and freshman quarterback Sam Howell, who is a true gunslinger who can also make things happen with his feet, sparked a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns to lead the way.
The future is indeed bright for UNC football, and it’s that way for one reason — UNC put the money on the table and got a big name coach in Brown.
And never could it be seen more on a day when just three hours away in Knoxville, the University of Tennessee, home of six national championships, fell to lowly Georgia State. The Volunteers got what they paid for, their fourth nickel and dime coaching hire since Phillip Fulmer stepped down in 2008, and the downward spiral of a once-proud program continues.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that paying for a big name coach will pay dividends down the road.
Alabama is the shining example. They refused to take no for an answer when courting Nick Saban away from the Miami Dolphins in 2007.
Five national championships later, Saban brings in $8.3 million a year salary-wise, while Alabama football profited $48.2 million last year. And notice I said “profited.”
Brown will make roughly $3.5 million per year after all is said and done, but the hiring of a coach that left for Texas in 1997 after the Tar Heels went 11-1 and crushed Virginia Tech 42-3 in the Gator Bowl to finish ranked 4th in the Associated Press Poll, will be money well spent. Brown also went 13-0 in 2005 and downed Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl to win the National Championship.
That resume sells season tickets, helps win recruiting wars for the top prospects, creates excitement in the fan base, and helps hire top notch assistants such as Brewster. And all that translates to success on the field.
Chapel Hill will be full of excitement this week as preparations are being made for Saturday night’s clash with the Miami Hurricanes. Win or lose, UNC has set itself up well for the future in football.
And it’s all due to the willingness to pay for a big name coach in Mack Brown.