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Heel Tough Blog: Carl Torbush Passes Away at 72

Craig Jones- AllSports

The Tar Heel football program received some somber news about one of their former head coaches.

During East Tennessee State’s media availability on Monday afternoon, the program announced that former head coach Carl Torbush has passed away at the age of 72.

Torbush was a key member of Mack Brown’s coaching staff during his first stint in Chapel Hill, serving as the defensive coordinator from 1988-97 after Brown hired him away from Louisiana Tech following one season as their head coach where he went 3-8. He engineered some of the program's best defenses in 1996 and 1997, years where the team finished top five in the country in points per game allowed. The 1996 defense is the best statistical defense of the modern era for the program. The team allowed just 9.2 points and 248.2 yards per game and did not allow more than 20 points in a game all season. The 1997 Broyles Award finalist was part of the defensive staff that recruited and coached program greats such as Dré Bly, Brian Simmons and Greg Ellis among others.

Following Brown’s departure at the conclusion of the 1997 regular season, Torbush was promoted to the head coaching role. He would coach the team to a 42-3 blowout victory in the 1998 Gator Bowl against Virginia Tech in his first game. He would coach the team to a 16-18 record in the next three seasons and would be fired at the end of the 2000 season.

Torbush would bounce around as a defensive coordinator over the next ten years, but never found the same type of success that he had in Chapel Hill. He spent time at Alabama (2001-02), Texas A&M (2003-05), Mississippi State (2009) and Kansas (2010-11). He would accept the role as the head coach at East Tennessee State in 2013 and coached them from 2015 to 2017, resurrecting the program after a 12-year stretch without football for the university. He was 11-22 in his time in Johnson City and finished his coaching career with a 31-48 career record.

Torbush also coached baseball at the college level, coaching Southeastern Louisiana to a 75-58 record from 1977 through 1979.

We here at the Heel Tough Blog would like to extend our deepest condolences to the Torbush family and friends during this difficult time.


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