Mack Brown explains why he returned to North Carolina — and why he left Texas

Sporting News
The Hall of Fame coach shed some light on the decision that brought him back to college football with the Tar Heels.
The Hall of Fame coach shed some light on the decision that brought him back to college football with the Tar Heels.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Mack Brown made national headlines when North Carolina announced in November he would return to coach the Tar Heels for the 2019 season.

Eight months after that announcement, Brown shed light on the question still burning in everyone's mind: Why return to coach college football at age 67 and after a five-year hiatus?

After joking that his wife Sally would only let him return to coaching at one of three locations — Hawaii, the Bahamas or Chapel Hill — Brown proceeded to say he felt like he had "unfinished business" from his original 10-year tenure at North Carolina.

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"When we left (North Carolina), we were fourth in the country, I think," Brown said at ACC Kickoff on Thursday. "We had just won 10 (games) and then won 11. We were recruiting as well as anybody in the country, we were getting most of the guys we wanted out of the state of North Carolina, some out of Virginia, some out of South Carolina and Georgia. We were really on a roll and, because of a lot of different circumstances, Sally and I thought it was best for us to leave at that time."

Regarding his return to UNC — which comes 22 years after first leaving Chapel Hill, and five years since coaching his last game for Texas — Brown said it came down to multiple factors.

"We decided, No. 1, we were not going to live anywhere we didn't want to live. And we love Chapel Hill," Brown said. "We raised our children here ... and some of our kids went to the University of North Carolina. We love the place and we've had a lot of success here.

"And I think as much as anything, I love fixing things, and right now we're struggling. We need to get more people in the seats and we've got to improve our gameday experience. The guys to me are talented, but we have to finish games like we should. ... All of those things are exciting to me."

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While addressing media during his news conference, Brown also touched briefly on his stint at Texas, where he went 158-48 over 16 seasons and led the Longhorns to the 2005 national championship.

In talking about what he learned at Texas and what he might do differently at North Carolina, Brown mentioned why he got back in the game — and how that was linked to the end of his tenure in Austin.

"You get into coaching because you love the game and you love the players," Brown said. "And if you're not careful, you win so many games it becomes about the wins more than anything else. And I asked Coach (Darrell Royal), who won three national championships at Texas, maybe 10 years in, I said, 'Coach, why did you quit at 52 years old?'

"He said, 'Because the wins became a relief and the losses became disaster. Devastation,'" Brown said. "And he said there was no joy. And then I looked up and found myself at Texas where if we didn't win all the games, it was my fault and your worth becomes what you do with wins. And you don't realize that while you're there. So I'm going to have fun."

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