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Mack Brown Provides Spring Ball Update

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham
The Truth Network Radio
March 31, 2023 7:38 pm

Mack Brown Provides Spring Ball Update

The Drive with Josh Graham / Josh Graham

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March 31, 2023 7:38 pm

Head Coach of the Tar Heels, Mack Brown, talks taking the "next step" as a program, the Final Four, the NFL Draft, and Eric Church.

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year Mac Brown good guys team Josh years Drake people game
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Since we're roughly two weeks out from the Tar Heels spring football game, we thought it'd be a good time to check in with Mac Brown who joins the show now. And coach, you've been pretty honest over the last few years about not meeting expectations or meeting the hype in 2021. And it's not hard to see some similarities between then and now when you consider the buzz surrounding your quarterback and some of the weapons you'll have to replace.

But what lessons did you learn from a couple seasons ago that you think will pay dividends as expectations grow this offseason? Josh, we've talked about, we've been good. You know, around here, actually six, seven wins was better than a lot of the years that we've had. And then you win eight and then you win nine. So we've been good. We go to the Orange Bowl, we win a Coastal, but we want to be great.

And you can't sit around and talk about it unless you actually do it. So we're looking at every little possibility of things that we need to do to take this team from good to great. I always have to remind people that recruiting in football works a lot differently than recruiting in basketball.

You might bring in a really top notch class and in basketball that pays immediate dividends on the floor while you have to develop that a lot in football. A perfect example, I remember I was on the field at Tennessee and I was watching them work out when they were the number one team in the country in warm ups. And I'm thinking, this guy must be their star tight end. This must be their star receiver.

And then one of their operations guys were telling me, no, no, no, that guy's not playing. This guy's going to play next year. And Georgia might have a full pro roster that didn't play this past season.

So that's just developing under the surface. How much more talented do you think your team is collectively right now, years removed from these great recruiting classes that you've put together, than you were a couple of years ago? Well, we're much more talented, but even more so we're more experienced. People forget very quickly.

We have no patience anymore, Josh. They forget that we took a team, we took over a team that had won five games in two years. And we took a team that had won two games and won one power five game in two years.

They won two games the year before we took them. And now we've gone to four straight bowl games, but guys have to learn to win. It's a process and you have to learn to be ready to play every week. And I've said it the last couple of weeks, you look at the upsets in the NCAA tournament, you look at the fact that there's not any seed above a three seed that's going to be playing this weekend in the final four.

And that tells you that either the committee got it wrong or a lot of people weren't ready to go and they didn't take it serious. So you got to be really good. You've got to be at least better than the other teams you play, or you better play really, really well every weekend. And I learned a long time ago, it's not the best team, it's the team that plays the best on that weekend. And that's why people have talked year in and year out about upsets and everybody excited about the upset, but that usually means that one team took it serious and the other one didn't. And we're trying to get, so we take every practice serious, every meeting serious, we're focused, we have an edge and we've got to control our minds and get them in a position where they never let down.

You said people is a broad term. People are impatient. Fans certainly are impatient, but I think today's recruit might be impatient too when you have the immediate path to jump somewhere in the transfer portal. And immediately my brain goes to Greensboro product Travis Shaw, who's one of the best players Carolina has recruited according to the recruiting sites. And I wonder, given all the top five stars you've coached at Texas and now have coached at North Carolina, have you had to handle five stars such as Travis any differently in the age of the portal, whether it's managing expectations for them early on and getting or getting them some run than you used to back with the Longhorns? Josh, it's a great question, but we really don't. We handle our program exactly like we always have. We hold guys to a very high standard.

We push them, we're working with them to try to get better. Travis is improving so much and we need him to be a great player. We don't need him to be a good player. And he played good for us last year, but he's lost a lot of weight. He's still got some more. He's working on, but he has plays in practice that are better than anybody else we have on our team.

So we really see a great future with him ahead. And we've told our guys, if you don't like it here, this is a great place. It's not a good place. And everything's in place. The academics are good. Our guys are acting right and they're staying out of trouble and they're representing us right.

The academics are the best they've ever been in football at this school. And we're winning games. So if you don't like that, we totally understand. And usually the ones that have left here aren't playing as much as they'd like to. And we understand that.

I said we can get you in the portal in five minutes and we'll help you go. So we've got a happy group of people. We've got people that love this place and it's really working well for us. And I can't wait to watch Travis this fall. Mac Brown's with us here on WSJS.

The spring game is on April the 15th, a couple of weeks away. You've been pretty candid speaking about poaching in the portal, though. Going back to December, was there ever a time that you were legitimately fearful you might lose Drake Mag? You've been public about the offers he's received, but were you ever fearful you might lose him? No, this is Drake's family is a legacy here.

And Drake told me very quickly, Coach, I'm not going anywhere. And the thing I haven't been is I haven't been negative on the portal because I think it needs to have a few more guidelines, but it's a good thing because it lets guys that are unhappy go try something else. I hate to see young guys that are misled and maybe somebody acts like they're going to offer them a scholarship and they get out and there's not one because there's so many kids that are in the portal that don't get a scholarship.

Josh, they just lose their scholarship. So I hate that for kids. I don't like the fact that people, a lot of the schools are using the portal so much that they're not recruiting as many high school players because it takes away opportunity for high school players. But the thing I hate the worst is the tampering. And I hate that people or agents can call players on your team and offer them money and opportunities to go somewhere else. And it's wrong.

It's illegal. And I hate to see it. Mac Brown with us here getting to see you're someone I like because you're just all around a college sports fan, a sports fan in general. You were talking about upsets in the Final Four and many times you've talked about just watching football on your off Saturdays. Do you have an opinion on the difficult decision Frank Reich and Jim Caldwell, Josh McCown and this Panthers staff has to make regarding deciding on which quarterback they're going to take between Bryce Young and C.J.

Stroud? No, we've got that coming up next year. I'm just so happy that for the last four years I haven't had that problem. Last year we did have a decision to make between Jacoby Crizzle and Drake May. And obviously Jacoby is a really good player, but we made the right decision because Drake's one of the best players in the country. And so we've had a very comforting situation, Josh, for the last four years going on five now with our quarterbacks.

And Drake has the year that we all hope he has. And when he goes to the NFL, we'll have some decisions to make next year. What's your favorite draft night story being with one of your guys? I really don't like the draft because the ones that are going to get drafted high, you know anyway. And if there's one like Sam that didn't get drafted as high as he felt like he was going to, as high as he was told he was going to, it's really tough. And then there's some kids that think they're going to get drafted and they don't get drafted. So usually in the draft, Josh, the head coaches and assistant coaches are all trying to take care of the guys that it didn't work out as well for them as you'd hope. The other guys, they're good. You call them, you hug them, you say congratulations. They're all happy, but you have to take care of the guys. You have to place the guys that didn't get drafted in free agency.

And if you've got a guy that it didn't work out for him like he thought it was going to, then you've got to call him and really try to help him and make sure that he's in a good place. Mac Brown with us here. Let's close actually with basketball. In your time as the head coach at North Carolina, both tours of duty and at Texas, the basketball programs at those schools have gone to six final fours. The four Dean went to in the nineties, Rick Barnes in 2003, losing to Syracuse in that title game and Hubert Davis last year in his first year taking the Tar Heels to New Orleans, which begs the question, how many final fours has Mac Brown watched firsthand? I think I've seen all of them except last year. We were practicing last year.

I think I've been to every other one in person. I knew that we were a team that was, we were not projected to be in the final four. So we didn't schedule around it. We sat there and spring practice is obviously more important to me personally, because I'm, I'm involved and I have to win football games. So last year we moved our practice so we could all, all the players could go somewhere and watch the game.

And, and, and we moved our practice from early morning, the next morning until night on Tuesday instead of Tuesday morning. But I love our basketball team. I'm friends with Hubert.

I pull for him every day. But obviously I've got to worry about winning football games first. You didn't pull an Eric Church and flat out cancel practice. How about it? Yeah.

How about that? Eric can pull it off easier than I could. I did pick at Eric a little bit after he canceled his concert and he went to the final four, went to our Duke game and we had the spring game the next weekend. I did call Eric and say, listen, the spring games next weekend, can you cancel another concert to come? And he said, that's not funny. That's great.

Uh, just curious though. So you've been to final fours. That's one of the best sporting events that could go to you've coached and won a national championship. I don't know how many Super Bowls you've been to, if any at all, what's a sporting event you haven't been to that you want to check the box for Mac Brown. Hmm. Gosh. Um, I probably the, the super bowl I haven't been to because I'm not a pro ball guy.

Um, but that would probably be one at some point that, that I would like to go to. Okay. That's interesting. You know, when Drake may or Sam Howe, or one of these guys or Josh Downs is playing, I'm sure they can help swing a ticket and figure that out. Mac, it's good to hear your voice. Uh, best of luck in preparations for the spring game. Hope to see you face to face sometime soon. Thanks for doing this. Thank you, Josh. Appreciate you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-31 20:44:10 / 2023-03-31 20:49:19 / 5

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