Yesterday, Mack Brown’s name was being tossed around to replace the fired Larry Fedora as the head coach of North Carolina. The longtime Texas Longhorns head coach and current ESPN analyst coached the Tar Heels for 10 years before taking over Texas.
Inside Carolina is reporting that Brown is heading back to Chapel Hill. to take over at UNC, with an announcement expected on Tuesday. Brown has retained close ties with the university in the years following his departure.
Despite living in Austin and working for ESPN, Brown has been a frequent visitor to Chapel Hill. He served as a mentor to Fedora, who thanked Brown during his introductory press conference at UNC, and was honored at Kenan Stadium in August for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame.
However, ESPN (who currently employs Brown, of course) reports that the two sides are still finalizing a deal and that no agreement has been reached yet.
Brown had a 69-46-1 record during his decade at the school and finished in the top ten in both 1996 and 1997, his final two years before taking the Texas job. With the Longhorns, Brown played in a bowl game in all but one season in charge, won the 2005 BCS National Championship, and lost the 2009 BCS National Championship Game to Alabama.
He’s been with ESPN since leaving Texas, and has never really closed the door on coaching again. He’s been working on ABC’s college football studio coverage in recent seasons, alongside Kevin Negandhi and, this season, Jonathan Vilma. The most memorable moment of Brown’s tenure with the Worldwide Leader came when he was working as a game analyst, and bailed on a game late in the fourth quarter to catch a flight, leading to an incredible exchange between him and Adam Amin.
As for who will end up replacing him on ESPN’s college football coverage, you can just pick a name out of a hat at this point. But with Chip Kelly returning to the coaching ranks at UCLA this season, and the oft-mentioned Les Miles taking the Kansas job earlier this month, we’ll have to get creative in picking a new coach to fawn over for a more advanced role on ESPN.