I don’t think it’s rocket science to say that getting a program with 5 wins in its past two years to a bowl game in your first year tends to make the people in charge happy. Happy enough, even, to give you some sort of reward. Well, Mack Brown’s done exactly that for the North Carolina Tar Heels, and, predictably, right on the heels of the announcement of Kevin Guskiewicz as UNC’s 12th official chancellor, the school announced that Mack Brown would be receiving a one-year contract extension, keeping him with the school through the 2024 season.
Brown had signed a five-year contract when he was first announced as UNC’s next head coach, signalling to recruits that he would be in Chapel Hill for the duration of their time on campus. It’s a common contract length. With this extension, the contract stays at 5 years, with the hope that Brown can recruit the ‘21 class exactly as he has the ‘20 class, which is tracking to be the Heels’ first top-20 class since 2011 (well, 2018’s was ranked 20th, but only if you include Jordyn Adams, who ended up never enrolling).
Mack Brown’s arrival on campus, which ignited reactions across the Tar Heel faithful that ranged from despondence to elation, has undoubtedly turned things around in Kenan Stadium in a hurry. Again and again, we have heard about his need to change the culture as well as UNC’s place in the standings, and with 4 wins this season that came down to the final minute after an entire season of not being able to close games out, that change is well underway. UNC’s six losses were all down-to-the-wire moments as well, so the Heels still haven’t quite broken even on close games, but just watching them, this is a different team in the fourth quarter than we’ve seen in Chapel Hill in a while. He finished with a 6-6 record, earning UNC more wins than it had had in the past two seasons, and got the Heels to their first bowl since 2016.
Brown has also repaired relationships between the program and North Carolina high schools, as seen from the staggering increase in recruits from North Carolina in the 2019 and 2020 classes (24 compared to 14 from 2017-18), and between the program and media: while Fedora antagonized reporters, Brown welcomes them. Television presenters love him because he was one of them just a year-ish ago, and newspaper/website people can actually get some information to share with fans now - and that is what leads to a 6-6 team with just one win over a bowl team, none over teams with a regular season winning record, selling out all their home games anyways. UNC’s on the way up in just about every way imaginable, and while you can still quibble about whether Brown was the best hire, he’s certainly proven himself to have been at least worthy. And if he maintains this trajectory, I expect you’ll be reading a similar article this time next year.
Have some quotes:
From Athletic Director Bubba Cunningham:
”Mack’s return has had an outstanding impact — not just in Kenan Stadium, but throughout the Carolina community. Our students are winning on the field and doing well in the classroom, our fan base is energized and we are all excited about building on the great successes of this season.”
And the man himself:
I love what we’ve been able to do with our facilities and the excitement around the program has given us the opportunity to have one of the top recruiting classes in the country. North Carolina is a wonderful place and everyone can tell we’re building something special here. I’m having a great time. I love our staff and these kids and I’m planning on being here for a long, long time... Now, we’ll continue to focus on recruiting and preparing for our bowl game. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the Military Bowl on Dec. 27.”
Congrats to Coach Brown!