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Mack Brown | North Carolina Tar Heels Head Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb
The Truth Network Radio
May 22, 2024 4:09 pm

Mack Brown | North Carolina Tar Heels Head Coach

Zach Gelb Show / Zach Gelb

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May 22, 2024 4:09 pm

North Carolina HC Mack Brown joins Zach for your college football fix.


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AutoTrader. We miss college football. We can't wait for the 2024 season. And we're counting down the days to kick off. We are 99 days away until UNC kicks off its season in Minnesota up against the Golden Gophers. And now joining us is a legendary college football coach. He is the head coach of the Tar Heels.

And that, of course, is Coach Mac Brown. Coach, appreciate the time as always. Thanks so much for doing it. And how are you? Zach, I'm doing great. Thanks for having me on. And those 99 days are gonna go fast.

Yeah, they'll be here before you know it. And it also helps when you have a running back like Omari and Hampton and what he was able to do a year ago over 1500 rushing yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Just how do you take a look back at his special season from a year ago? Zach, he's one of the best players in the country, and we've had some great running backs here and at Texas, and he's as good as any of them. I mean, he's just he's big. He's strong. He runs 4.4.

He's 220. He's got tremendous hands. He's very unselfish.

He's a guy with our modern day transfer portal that had opportunities to go a lot of different places for a lot of money, and he's very unselfish. He decided to stay here because he knows we've got a chance to run the ball well. And as I've learned, great running backs make those offensive linemen look better so that they can help them as well. As good as any running back you coach, you coach Ricky Williams in 1998 with his special season. That's how good Omari and Hampton could continue to be.

He can't. He can't be that good because Ricky was a great player. Obviously, Heisman Trophy winner, one of the best ever. You've got so many guys like Cedric Benson and Jamal Charles, Selvin Young and some great ones that we had here as well with Natron Means and Randy Jordan. But this guy's in that group, and it's hard when you have different eras to say this one's better than that one.

But Zach, this guy, he's got it all. So you talked about the NIL, and when you have a player that has that much success, you know a lot of people are going to try to drive them away from your program. Was that a legitimate fear this offseason that you were going to lose him, or did you kind of think everything was going to play out in your favor?

Well, it wasn't a fear because of who he is. What we've tried to do, Zach, is just change our recruiting, our strategy, and we've tried to get guys that want to be here, guys that if they play really well, if they're not going to take money coming in, then after two years they're not going to take money because they play well. Who wants to be here, and who's going to stay here? And we've actually only lost one player that was bought off our campus, so that's pretty good. But we're having to look at a smaller group. Our pool is much smaller academically and financially, but also who wants to be here?

And that Cayman Rucker is another one, Power Echols. There were a number of guys on our team that could have gone a lot of other places, and they just decided that this is where they came to school and this is where they want to stay. How difficult of an adjustment has it been with NIL? Because with someone like yourself that has been around the game for a long time, you're used to doing things a certain way, and obviously the landscape is changing.

I think it's for the better, but you would also want a little bit more just controlled kinds of chaos, as I would like to say with all the NIL stuff. Zach, you can sit around and gripe about what's wrong with it, or you can be one of those guys that handles it, changes the narrative with it, and then tries to make it better for college football because it is good that the young guys are getting paid. I said on the podcast the other day that guys didn't ask for this. Somebody said, well, they've been getting paid for years.

Well, they have. It was cheating then. It was different.

But not everybody is that way. The large majority of the kids didn't ask for money. They didn't ask for money before.

Just a few great ones were getting paid. And now most of the kids on your team, they'd like to be treated like everybody else in college football, but they're not walking around like a lot of people think. Say, give me a new card.

If you don't do this, I'm leaving. And that's not the way our team works at all. Most of our guys just say, coach, treat me fair, whatever the rules are.

I know you didn't make them. And I've told them, we've been behind in NIL, so be patient with me and we'll raise some money. But you've got a narrative here with 28 sports, and you've got a narrative for years that you told your boosters, top supporters, don't pay kids. Now you're saying, eh, we need to pay them.

And then you said, don't have agents because North Carolina got in trouble for some agents before and they were saying they've all got agents. So it's a learning process for all of us. But Zach, one of the things that a lot of my buddies and I talked about that are older in this business when COVID came, we can either gripe about COVID because we've never had COVID before, or we can learn how to coach with COVID.

Well, you can either gripe about the transfer portal at NIL. It is what it is. There are some things that need to be changed, but until they're changed, we've all got to figure out a narrative to give us a chance to be the best we can be. The great Mac Brown is here with us. I'm a Temple Owl coach, so I know your dear friend, Kevin Nagande, while I also know your new defensive coordinator, the Minister of Mayhem, I believe they call him, and Jeff Collins. What do you think Jeff could bring to the defense that you guys haven't had the last few years? Jeff brings a lot of experience as a head coach at two different places. He brings experience as a top 25 defensive coordinator at Mississippi State and Florida. He's put a lot of guys in the league, which is what recruits want to hear because they want to be able to be taught to get there. And the thing that I saw this spring, Zach, he's got so much energy. He exudes his energy.

He's very inclusive. The whole defensive staff and the team's bought in. But if a receiver makes a great catch, he will sprint across the field and chest bump the receiver and say, that's what we need, man. Challenge us. Challenge us to make us better. And the kids have really enjoyed him being here, and they're fired up about playing for him next fall. You may want to get him a scooter, coach, because I'm a little afraid if Jeff Collins is running across a practice field, you're going to have an Achilles injury with your defensive coordinator.

I don't think there's any question that we told him he needs to slow down. That's awesome. Let me get to your quarterback battle. How's it been going?

It's good. We've got really three older quarterbacks now with Jacoby Criswell coming in. He's coming back from Arkansas, but you've got Connor Harold who's played some for us that runs 4-4. He has really made some great plays since he's been here, just hadn't got a lot of experience.

And then you've got just the opposite, Max Johnson that was at LSU and Texas A&M that comes in with over 900 passes in the SEC, and he's played on the big stage a lot. So those guys have a real healthy competition right now. They were going back and forth in the spring, and a lot of people say, well, they're not going to pick one until the fall because they want both of them to stay and all that. This is the legitimate competition that they could both play today.

We're really lucky that we've got two that can play. So we're going to watch them through the summer workouts. We'll watch them in preseason and then just figure out who gives us the best chance to win. How do you know when it's time to announce the starter?

Because like it said, it seems like this is going to go right down to the wire. Usually in my experience, unless you know, if you know, go ahead and announce it because they know if you know. But if you don't know, like now or like it was with Jacoby Criswell and Drake May, like it was with Sam Howell, the other couple of guys that we had here, we weren't sure because they were young. So we let them go through the summer. They compete all summer, and it's amazing how your kids will tell you what they think.

And you get six or eight of the older guys at the end of the summer and you say, what did you see? Because we can't watch them throw in the summer. And they'll say, coach, it's not close. Colt McCoy and Jevin Sneed, I thought Jevin was leading coming out of spring practice. They get back and they said, Colt took over, you'll see.

And they said the same thing with Drake a couple of years ago. So that's why I like Zach having all three of those guys really lead all summer. They have to compete all summer.

They work all summer. But then you get a great report from your older players that you really trusted in the fall. Coach Mac Brown, what are the Patriots getting in your old quarterback in Drake May who was the third overall pick a month ago? They're getting a guy with freakish talent. He can run better than people think he can. He's got length. He's nearly 6'5". He's about 230. He's very accurate. He's a gym rat. He's smart. He competes at the highest level.

He's had two older brothers win national championships. And they throw that ring in his face. And Zach, he wants to get one, so he's competing hard to get it. But he also is a guy with the it factor. When he walks in the room, everybody stops and turns and looks at him. And they know when he's there. He has that presence.

And he'll have that same presence in the locker room for the Patriots. With NIL, he and Sam Howell both made more money than the other kids on the team. And that bothered them some. But in each of those two cases, they didn't have a deal with a corporation unless they included some other players. And the team really appreciates that.

So they're total team guys. But I think Drake is a guy that will end up being one of the best ever player. Coach, a lot of people are wondering what the future of the ACC is going to be. There's been a lot of changes in college football. You being around as long as you have, just what do you think this will eventually go to down the road and what college football will look like?

Are we going to just one Super League, you think? Zach, it's a great question. I was at Texas when we were hours away, I thought, from going to the Pac-12. We had talked about recruiting areas. We had talked about changes in recruiting. We talked about scheduling.

How would you fly out of Washington and Washington State? We went through all of that. And then it came down to we got Longhorn Network and everything went away in an hour. So what I've learned is that I sit like you do. I sit and listen.

I watch. But I know I've got to beat Minnesota in the opener. So the biggest thing for us is to coach our team. I would think that we're headed toward an NFL model in everything we're doing. And that we don't have a model. And we dropped amateurism.

And we really didn't know what we were doing because we've got so many things going on without guidelines. Well, with the settlement that's coming up, that's more money that universities are going to have to have. With cost of attendance, that's more pressure on athletics directors.

With the academic stipend, that's more pressure on athletic directors. So this money's got to come from somewhere. So either you get the ones that can produce that revenue that all play at the top.

And everybody else kind of settles in their own area and levels. Or somebody's got to figure out how everybody's going to get paid. Because the players now are going to get paid. So you have to cut sports or you have to cut personnel.

Something has to give. And everybody has to seek better revenue. So I think that's where we're headed. And I think we're going to see money go back in through the universities for NIL at some point. I think we're going to see salary caps at some point.

Title IX is still a factor that the NFL doesn't have to deal with. But I do think at some point we may end up seeing four divisions like an NFL group. And the ones with the most money are going to be playing at the highest level.

And everybody else is going to go back and play for fun. Last thing I'll ask you, I believe if I'm right on this, your latest contract extension is through 2027. How much longer do you plan on being on the sideline and being a coach in college football? Zach, I think I read it this morning.

I think it's 28. But you get an extra extension? I did get another year extension this year. And I did ask Coach Bowden and Coach Paterno were on a Nike trip with me. One of them was 84 and the other one was 85.

I was 85 and 86. I said, what are you all doing? We love this. We love the kids.

We're having fun. So at Texas, I was tired after 30 years as a head coach and I started thinking about how do you retire? What do you do?

I did that. I enjoyed TV. But I was born to coach and I'm enjoying this. I'm loving coaching. So it's also more challenging.

People think you should quit because of NIL, transfer portal. To me, I like taking negatives and turn them into positives. And these are things that need to be fixed.

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Just you wait. Auto Trader. Sally, my wife, Sally and I decided this time we're not going to sit around and start talking about quitting because when you do, you don't do as good a job. Because when you think about quitting, you quit. Because you're slowing down in all areas and you're not worried about the recruit that's going to play in three years.

So what we decided is we're going to work as hard as we can every day and the day that we feel like it's best for somebody else to take over them will quit. But we're not going to think about it or talk about it. All the opponents talk about it. I thought it was a compliment. I used to worry about it. Now everybody says, well, he's going to quit next year. And I said, what a great thing they want me to quit. Just trying to use that against you on recruiting.

You know that he is. He's the great Mac Brown coach. Good luck this season. Good luck in the off season as well. We appreciate the time today. Thanks. Thanks for having me on. The wait is over.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2024-05-22 16:59:29 / 2024-05-22 17:07:18 / 8

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