Brown still in­flu­ences Muschamp’s pro­gram and coach­ing phi­los­o­phy

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY BEN BREINER [email protected]­ Ben Breiner: Brein­erTheS­tate

North Carolina coach Mack Brown wanted to clear a thing or two up about his his­tory with Will Muschamp.

The two worked to­gether at a turn­ing point mo­ment in Muschamp’s ca­reer. He was com­ing into his own as one of the most well-re­garded as­sis­tant coaches in the coun­try, work­ing for a na­tional cham­pion coach and look­ing at some of the more pres­ti­gious jobs around. Then he was given a fu­ture: head coach at Texas when Brown stepped aside.

Only what was cat­e­go­rized as a long-term move was ac­tu­ally just about the short term.

“The rea­son we did the coach-in-wait­ing, and Will and I un­der­stood that, was not that I was get­ting out, which peo­ple thought, and it was not that Will was go­ing to be the head coach at Texas at that point,” Brown said Fri­day. “I thought he was a good enough coach if we could keep him, we could win the na­tional cham­pi­onship.”

The pair, brought to­gether Fri­day morn­ing for an event con­nec­ted to the USC-UNC kick­off game, al­most did. Their 2008 team went 12-1, miss­ing out on a shot at the ti­tle be­cause of tiebreak­ers with an Ok­la­homa team it de­feated. Their 2009 team made it to the ti­tle game.

Brown still re­mem­bers the win against the No. 1 Soon­ers, a 45-35 game. It was the early days of up­tempo of­fenses, and af­ter Ok­la­homa ran a play while Muschamp was look­ing at plays on his wrist­band, Muschamp pulled it off and tossed it away with a sim­ple mes­sage.

“OK man, let’s play,” Brown re­called.

They’d been brought to­gether by Greg Davis, who had coached at Ge­or­gia in the tail end of Muschamp’s play­ing days and was Brown’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor from 19962010.

Muschamp ended up de­part­ing af­ter the 2011 sea­son to re­place Ur­ban Meyer at Florida. That ten­ure didn’t go as many ex­pected, last­ing four sea­sons.

As Muschamp looked back at his de­par­ture, he said the strug­gles his fi­nal sea­son in Austin, a 5-7 cam­paign, ul­ti­mately made the split an am­i­ca­ble one.

“We didn’t have as good a foot­ball team as we wanted to have,” Muschamp said. “And I think that put some stress on both of us from the stand­point of No. 1 our fans­base ask­ing, ‘Do we re­ally want this guy to take over our pro­gram?”, and ‘When are we get­ting rid of the other guy?’ I think from that stand­point, it cre­ated some dif­fi­cul­ties, not be­tween he and I, but those ques­tions, you get tired of hear­ing that.”

Brown’s in­flu­ence still can be felt in Muschamp’s pro­gram.

Muschamp said he took a great deal in terms of build­ing cul­ture, how to man­age a team and a staff and even the lessons about life out­side of foot­ball. He said his team’s Be­yond Foot­ball pro­gram, led by Game­cock great Mar­cus Lat­ti­more, came from his time work­ing with Brown.

Back to­gether this week, there was some of that ami­a­bil­ity of two old friends.

Their teams are in dif­fer­ent spots. Brown came out of five years in the broad­cast booth to re­build a Tar Heels pro­gram that had fallen off. Muschamp is en­ter­ing Year 4, hav­ing posted three bowl sea­sons but com­ing off a year that fell short of some lofty, per­haps overblown, ex­pec­ta­tions.

Their pro­grams are al­ready fac­ing off on the re­cruit­ing trail and soon enough will on the field. They wished each other the best, but maybe not so much on Aug. 31 at Bank of Amer­ica Stadium.

“(Brown) had a great first ten­ure at North Carolina,” Muschamp said. “Hope his sec­ond ten­ure is just as suc­cess­ful, start­ing with his sec­ond game.”

GAVIN MCIN­TYRE gm­cin­[email protected]­

Univer­sity of South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp, left, and Univer­sity of North Carolina head coach Mack Brown pose for pho­tos be­fore a press con­fer­ence at the Char­lotte Coun­try Club Fri­day. USC and UNC will meet in the first game of the sea­son.

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