Mack Brown has been under a ton of fire this week from those around college football and even Tar Heel fans after his comments about the team’s 2023 schedule. Those statements and the dissatisfaction with the sport overall that he has expressed have some wondering if he is nearing retirement, especially at the age of 71. Thursday, the university showed that isn’t the case with another extension for the hall of fame head coach.
In a release sent out earlier today, the program announced that they had agreed to a one year extension with Brown that will extend through January of 2028. “I appreciate the Board of Trustees, Chancellor Guskiewicz, Bubba Cunningham and the athletics department for continuing to invest in our football program and assisting us as we continue our rise in the ACC and on the national landscape,” Brown said about the extension. “We’ve had a very successful four years across the board and we’re continuing to strive to win all the games, have as much fun as possible, and mentor young men who graduate and are better prepared for life after football. We’ve accomplished a lot and we still have so much room for improvement, so we’re looking forward to attacking this offseason and getting ready to go for the 2023 season.”
Since Brown’s return to Chapel Hill, the Tar Heels made some pretty significant strides following the rough finish to the Larry Fedora era. The team has been bowl eligible for four straight years after missing a bowl game the two seasons prior to his return. The team made an Orange Bowl appearance in 2020, the major bowl the program has made since the 1950 Cotton Bowl Classic. This past season, the team made just their second ACC Championship Game appearance and won nine games for just the second time since Brown left for Texas back in 1997.
Brown’s return has also had a major impact on recruiting. Each of his first three full classes ranked inside of the top sixteen nationally according to 247Sports, the first time that has happened in the modern recruiting era for the program. The 2023 class was a bit of a step back, but still ranked inside of the top 30, meaning every single class he has signed, including the 2019 one after taking over for Fedora, has ranked inside that top 30.
While there has been a lot of success, there is a feeling of uneasiness around the program this offseason after how 2022 finished up. The Tar Heels started the season 9-1 and had outside playoff hopes, but fell apart down the stretch, losing their final four games. That finish compares to the team’s finish to the 2016 season that was the beginning of the end for Fedora. Combine that with a step back that the team took on the recruiting trail and the flock of transfers that the team has been dealing with and the flock of transfers and there is reason to be a bit concerned.
2023 will be another crossroad season for the Tar Heels, especially after the team made just one coaching change this offseason. Hopefully Brown can navigate this challenge and help the Tar Heels take the next step towards being a consistent contender.