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When Mack Brown decided upon an encore in Chapel Hill prior to the 2019 season, he knew he’d have his work cut out for him. The Tar Heels were coming off a 2-9 campaign, but Brown saw a university that had the infrastructure in place to win and he let UNC know that he wasn’t leaving his cushy TV gig to come back and field a lousy team.
“I told (UNC athletic director) Bubba (Cunningham), I’m not going to interview.” Brown said following his induction into the North Carolina Hall of Fame, per 247sports. “And I told him, we’ve got to be good. I’m not going to come back and be bad. I’m past that. So they’ve really tried hard to give us everything we need to be successful. And I think like us, they see a window here where we have a chance to be really good, so everybody’s trying their best to support it.”
During his five year coaching absence after he left the University of Texas, Brown’s wife urged him to leave his role as an ESPN analyst and head back to Carolina, whom he coached from 1988 – 1997. “The night that we left (a 2018 UNC football party), Sally said, ‘This is what you do. I haven’t seen you have this much fun in five years. I haven’t seen you light up like this. And that’s why this is your gift. This is what you should do.’ That’s what brought it back (to Carolina).”
How it started. How it’s going.
— Mack Brown (@CoachMackBrown) July 25, 2021
In Brown’s two seasons back on the sidelines, the Tar Heels have won 15 games. Prior to his return, North Carolina had totaled just 13 total victories over three seasons. His 259 career wins are seventh all-time and a major reason why he was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.
“This is humbling for all of us because you know that when you’re standing up here, you’re representing so many more people other than yourself,” said Brown.
The Tar Heels open the season on the road against ACC rival Virginia Tech on September 3rd.