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UNC Football: Offensive coordinator Phil Longo leaving for Wisconsin

The Air Raid disciple was responsible for some of UNC’s best offensive seasons and multiple broken records

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: Offensive line coach Jack Bicknell is going with Longo to Wisconsin, per Feldman:

UNC offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Phil Longo has reportedly agreed to take the same job on Luke Fickell’s staff in Wisconsin, per a tweet from Bruce Feldman:

Longo was one of Mack Brown’s first hires when he came to Chapel Hill for his second go-around, and the hire immediately paid dividends — with a true freshman at quarterback of a roster that had won two games the previous year, Longo engineered the nation’s 26th-most effective offense in terms of efficiency, getting an unprecedentedly good season out of Sam Howell and creating an environment for good players like Michael Carter, Javonte Williams, Dazz Newsome, and Dyami Brown to become stars. Getting nearly everybody back for 2020, Longo took things to the next level, orchestrating possibly the greatest offensive season in program history and a top-5 offense in the country as UNC went to a New Years’ Six bowl game for the first time in living memory.

Just as impressive, however, may have been how he handled the next two years — In 2021, losing nearly all of his offensive contributors through the air and on the ground, Longo didn’t blink, and posted another top-15 offense on the back of Sam Howell and Josh Downs even as his offensive line regressed into one of the worst in the nation and his counterpart’s defense struggled mightily and frequently didn’t allow room for the offense to be anything but perfect. Then, in 2022, after losing the best quarterback in program history, Longo managed to not just avoid a dropoff but in fact upgrade the position with redshirt freshman Drake Maye, who led the ACC in nearly all major categories as the UNC offense, despite grinding to a halt towards the end of the season, ranked in the country’s top 20 units in adjusted efficiency for the third straight year.

Longo’s offense has produced more 1000-yard players from scrimmage than anybody else in the country over the last three years and is responsible, at this point, for a substantial portion of UNC’s record books, both team and individual. While his offense is often remembered for its occasional lapses and relative red zone mediocrity, Longo’s productivity, explosiveness, and quarterback play were pretty unprecedented in the history of UNC football, and his time in Chapel Hill is much appreciated.

We’ll have more on Mack Brown’s search to replace him as it unfolds. It’s unknown at this point if Longo intends to coach UNC in the upcoming Holiday Bowl.