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Since leaving Chapel Hill in 1997, Mack Brown has won a national championship and national coach of the year honors, and this year he will enter the College Football Hall of Fame.
He also departed a 16-year tenure at the University of Texas with a 30-21 record in his last four seasons, and he announced his resignation amid growling from Texas fans who are used to winning at a much higher rate. Brown, who is widely credited with putting Carolina on the national football map — if briefly — in his last six seasons at UNC, has not coached since 2013. He has spent the past five years as a football analyst for ESPN.
Brown, 67, will be re-introduced as the head coach of the Tar Heels at noon today. He has been enticed back to town upon the firing of Larry Fedora on Sunday.
“Sally and I love North Carolina, we love this University and we are thrilled to be back,” Brown said. “The best part of coaching is the players, building relationships, building confidence, and ultimately seeing them build success on and off the field. We can’t wait to meet our current student-athletes and reconnect with friends, alumni and fellow Tar Heel coaches.”
Athletics Director Bubba Cunningham said, “Mack Brown has a proven record of building great teams, and he doesn’t just develop football players, he also develops people of strong character. He knows how to win championships, and he expects his student-athletes to win in the classroom and community, as well. We are excited about his plans for our football program, and I am thrilled to welcome Coach Brown and wife Sally back to Chapel Hill.”
Besides a respectable 69-46-1 game record, that despite 1-10 records in the first two years, Brown left UNC as it was putting the finishing touches on a grandstand enclosure in the west end zone and a first-class players’ facility and football museum behind it. The Tar Heels finished that year ranked sixth nationally.
And he was bound for more accolades at one of college football’s premier addresses. Brown won 158 games and lost 48 at Texas. The national title came in an undefeated 2005 season. The Longhorns also played in the title game in 2009. Prior to his time in Chapel Hill, Brown was head coach at Appalachian State and Tulane. His overall record as a head coach is 244-122-1, making him the 10th-biggest winner all-time in the game’s top division.
His only losing record at Texas, and only failure to make a bowl game, came in 2010.
Brown’s annual salary was about $5 million in his last season at Texas.
UNC reported that 80 percent of his players at UNC earned their degrees; that at Texas, more than a third of his players earned 3.0 grade point averages and were named to the Big 12 honor rolls; and that from 2006-13, Texas placed a league-high 159 players on the Academic All-Big 12 team, 35 more than any other school.
UNC has not had a head coach leave of his own volition since Brown. The University has in that time released Carl Torbush, John Bunting ’72 and Butch Davis.
Four of Fedora’s seven teams had winning records, but after consecutive years of three and two wins, his record at Carolina was 45-43 overall and 28-28 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents. He was let go the day after an overtime loss to N.C. State.