More often than not, when the University of North Carolina gets talked about in December, people assume it's all about college basketball. Very rarely is football in the mix, especially considering the Tar Heels haven't won a conference title in nearly 40 years. Everything is different this year, though.
During halftime of one of the marquee hoops games of the weekend, when UNC upset Gonzaga, the Dean E. Smith Center was a full-blown celebration of both sports. That's because head coach Mack Brown has returned to the sidelines and has hired a dynamite staff to bring winning football back to Chapel Hill.
The first introduction and reception from the fans is exactly what you would expect for the winningest active coach in college football and 2018 College Football Hall of Fame inductee.
From 1988-1997, Brown guided the Tar Heels to a 69-46-1 record before leading the Texas Longhorns to two Big 12 titles and one national championship in Austin. He was hired at UNC to replace Larry Fedora and has immediately brought a buzz back to the football program.
"I'm excited to be the head football coach at the University of North Carolina in the great state of North Carolina. We have brought you a tremendous staff. These guys are going to do a great job and they're going to start winning now... This train is taking off and we're going to have a lot of fun... We need the best fans in the world on board. Let's buy all of the tickets and fill up Kenan Stadium next year." — UNC head coach Mack Brown
Although Brown, now 67 and returning to be the head football coach after a college football commentating career at ESPN, was the headliner, the halftime ceremony also featured a full introduction of his coaching staff for the North Carolina Tar Heels:
Offensive Coordinator: Phil Longo
Offensive Line Coach: Brandon Jones
Running Backs Coach: Robert Gillispie
Wide Receivers Coach: Lonnie Galloway
Tight Ends Coach: Tim Brewster
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Safeties Coach: Jay Bateman
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach: Tommy Thigpen
Defensive Line Coach: Tim Cross
Cornerbacks Coach: Dre Bly
Special Teams Coach: Chad Scott
Brown certainly has some work to do to bring UNC back to ACC and national prominence, of course, but it's definitely time for fans to get as excited as he is and hop aboard the train before it takes off next season.
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