Mack Brown Talks About His Return

Former University of North Carolina head football coach Mack Brown talks about his return to Chapel Hill as a Texas Longhorn to play in Kenan Stadium. He brings his top-five Texas team to play the Tar Heels on Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. on ABC.

General thoughts on the UNC football team:

I've been impressed by the character of this young team to overcome nine turnovers and still have a chance to win from the 23 yard line, at the end of the game. Then they had a seven-minute and a six-minute drive at the end of the Syracuse game. It showed a lot of toughness and a lot of character.

I've been really impressed with Darian Durant, and that young kicker looked as close to Janikowski as I've seen in Dan Orner, since Janikowski went to the Raiders. Dexter Reid is a terror on defense. His 21 tackles [in one game] is amazing.

Are you surprised that, five years later, your return to Chapel Hill will stir up as many emotions as it is?

I don't think it's me that would stir up emotions. We had a great atmosphere [at UNC] for Florida State when we were ranked number four and they were ranked number one. And North Carolina football is really good, right now.

John did a tremendous job when they beat Florida State. He turned around all their fortunes last year, and then he ended up beating a good Auburn team. For the ACC to beat the SEC in the Peach Bowl was really important, and North Carolina had a great crowd there.

With us being rated highly in the preaseason, coming in a split national TV game, I really think when people are talking about me, it's overplayed because I'm very unimportant in this game. It's the fact that John Swofford and DeLoss Dodds scheduled a game between two great institutions, probably ten years ago, and they did it because they felt like the out-of-conference schedule would help in the BCS. It's obviously worked because it's become a split national TV game.

Will it be emotional for you when you arrive?

"I don't think so. I thought it would be, and last year the emotion was more towards us losing the young guy and having to see his parents befor the game, because the university set that as Cole Pitman day. My life has changed a lot in the last 10 years, but also even more over the last couple. This is the week of 9/11, so we all look at our priorities a little differently than we did at this time last year. Your heart goes out to loved ones who lost loved ones last year and all the people fighting for our security.

I'm more proud of the 10 years that we had in Chapel Hill. We had some tough challenges, and we had some awful years that ended up being fun when you look at what we were able to accomplish. I'll be proud to walk in that stadium and see it full, and see it loud, and see it aggressive because that's what we always wanted. And we got that at the end of our time there. To see the facilities to be as good as anybody in the country and know that the university commited and did so many things to help North Carolina be one of the best football programs in the country right now is prideful for me. Instead of emotional, I think it will be prideful.

For a guy to have a chance to be the head coach at any Division 1-A program for 19years is pretty special, but, when you can be at Chapel Hill for 10 and now at Texas for five, and live in Chapel Hill, NC and Austin TX, you have to be pretty lucky.

I think it will be a great game. What a great setting for a split national TV with ABC. John has done a great job there. And John's been really nice to me. Sometimes, you don't feel that way [when returning to a school where you once coached]. If this had been the second year after I left and Carl Torbush and the entire staf had still been there, it probably would have been a lot more emotional for me than it is going to be.

I get so focused before the about what we are supposed to do and how to win. It would be really selfish of me to think that the game was about me or the emotion was about me. I've been back there, and I go back four or five times a year. I've been in the stadium. I've been around and eaten lunch there. I've got friends all over the place. I really don't think it will be any different. Saturday night, after the game, I may tell you [different], but the focus is that we need to play well and win the game.

What kind of reception do you expect?

They'll have the largest crowd in the history of the school, which is a compliment to Texas. Their kids will play lights-out, they will play as hard as they can, but they don't even know me. That's because it's Texas, and we are rated in the top five.

As far as a reception, I won't have a reception. I won't stand and talk to all the fans that are there on Saturday night. But, it's not an issue. I'm not a factor in the thing. Sometimes, I don't get a good reception here, but that's part of coaching. For me to worry whether someone out of 70,000 is made at me -- we've got four children in my house and one of them is usually mad at me. It's really not an issue at all.

I've been cussed, I've been booed, I've had things thrown at me, so I can have anything happen to me that hasn't already happened -- and like I said, sometimes at home. It's not an issue. It'll be about the kids, not the coaches.

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