Reworded: The grass at UNC may not be any greener, but the culture could use a change in the shade of blue, regardless of whether Mack Brown remains or departs.

Reworded: The grass at UNC may not be any greener, but the culture could use a change in the shade of blue, regardless of whether Mack Brown remains or departs.

The exchange of handshakes between Dave Doeren and Mack Brown at midfield was brief, similar in length to the duration of the game. Little communication occurred between the two coaches after NC State’s 39-20 victory, as the actions on the field spoke for themselves. While NC State’s performance was commendable, North Carolina’s was underwhelming. In their most important game of the year, the Tar Heels were a disappointment.

“I take full responsibility,” stated Brown following the match. “You cannot perform as poorly as we did in the first half without the head coach being at fault. I clearly did not adequately prepare our team.”

The leading offense of the ACC, led by possibly the best quarterback in the country, failed to sustain a drive of more than four plays in the first half. The Carolina team struggled to maintain their balance on the natural grass at Carter-Finley. When they weren’t slipping, they were committing penalties such as false starts and unsportsmanlike conduct, causing their possessions to fail before they could even start.

“I instructed the players to push UNC to the edge where they would incur penalties,” stated Doeren in post-game remarks. “I wanted them to reach that heightened emotional state and play physically within the rules, aggressively going after their opponents. I like to call it a NASCAR mentality, where you drive as fast as you can but still maintain control and avoid crashing.”

Doeren used another term to describe how his defense effectively stopped Carolina’s offense: “The cycle of death.”

According to Doeren, facing fast-paced teams can tire out their defense if they are unable to sustain a drive and score points. This can be seen when the opposing team goes three and out, while their own team is able to maintain a five-minute drive and score. This pattern can continue, causing the opposing defense to become worn out.

NC State has now won three consecutive games against their rival team. In 2022, they secured a victory in double overtime when their opponent missed a field goal that could have extended the game. The previous year, NC State made an impressive comeback in the final minutes to win 30-21 with two touchdowns by Emeka Emezie and a successful onside kick. These games were evenly matched, but in the most recent one, NC State took control of the game and eliminated any uncertainty.

Doeren proudly stated that it has been more than 1,400 days since they last defeated us. This is a remarkable achievement considering the strong football team and competent coaching staff they have. He commended our players for their performance.

The Wolfpack ended the season with a five-game winning streak, earning a spot in a decent bowl game. However, UNC struggled once again towards the end of the season, losing their last four games in 2022. The team finished with a record of 2-4 in their final six games, including victories against Campbell and Duke. Duke’s third-string quarterback led the team and the win over Duke required overtime.

“If you want to have culture, come to Raleigh,” NC State linebacker Payton Wilson said. “Them boys in blue don’t know about it.”

The contrasting element between these two programs is their culture, rather than their appearance. NC State is characterized by its resilience, determination, and persistence. These words may seem insincere when displayed on a poster, but under Doeren’s leadership, they are truly embodied in the team’s lifestyle.

Doeren stated that he requested the coaches to display a more assertive approach during the game. He believes that the players will mimic our behavior.

During a period in which Doeren faced pressure early on due to a 3-2 record, he now believes he has secured his position for life in Raleigh.

“Hey, at least we won,” Doeren scoffed following a 24-21 victory against Virginia.

During the postgame interview on the CW Network, Doeren stated that this is not a basketball-oriented school and directed a disrespectful comment towards Steve Smith in the studio.

This year, Doeren has experienced popular moments, and he should be praised for not letting external distractions affect his football team. In fact, it brought them closer together. This cannot be said for UNC.

When I inquired about Carolina’s past under-performance, Brown expressed his determination to exceed eight wins and potentially reach nine, which is considered a significant achievement. He acknowledged that this has been a challenge for the team in recent years.

“Recently, we had a fantastic match against Duke, whether it was two or three weeks ago. Tonight, we faced a tough opponent who was difficult to defeat on their home court, and they outperformed us,” Brown concluded.

Brown, known for his generosity in giving time for press conferences, was eager to leave the small press conference room for the visiting NC State team. In the past three years, I have never seen him so brief in his remarks. It seems he is aware of the harsh reality and even acknowledged that this loss is ultimately his responsibility.

Brown admitted, “I believed they made an effort.” He acknowledged his failure in adequately preparing the team for the game, as evidenced by their poor performance.

When questioned about his performance last night, Brown frequently references the state of the program prior to his return to Chapel Hill: a record of 3-9 in 2017 and 2-9 in 2018. Currently, he boasts a record of 35-26 since assuming control in 2019. Despite a loss in the Orange Bowl being the standout moment, they have successfully qualified for a bowl game every year. Brown has revitalized the program, but what are their future prospects?

Brown was asked about his plans for next season and replied, “This topic comes up every year. When you reach 72 years old, it’s a routine to note that it’s the Thursday before the last game before recruiting begins.”

Brown deserves as much criticism as he does credit for the job he’s done in Chapel Hill since 2019. The records ultimately are fine, but it’s hard to say he’s gotten the most out of his talent. Brown had top fifteen recruiting classes 2020-2022. He had three years of Sam Howell and two with Drake Maye at quarterback. Assuming Maye enters the draft this year, those are two starting NFL quarterbacks.

Reworded: To provide background, this current NFL season only has four college programs with at least two starting quarterbacks: Oklahoma, Ohio State, Clemson, and Alabama. As a fan of Notre Dame, I have not seen this happen in my lifetime. Our previous quarterbacks, Brady Quinn and Deshone Kizer, did not succeed with the Cleveland Browns. The belief that Conner Harrell will easily take over or that another player will easily transfer in is not realistic. While it could occur, it is not a guaranteed outcome.

Examine the talent and quarterback circumstances at UNC and NC State. According to 247 Sports, Doeren’s 2020, 2021, and 2022 recruiting classes were ranked 44th, 36th, and 64th respectively. In the previous season, he faced the challenge of losing ACC preseason player of the year Devin Leary to injury and had to utilize a combination of Jack Chambers, MJ Morris, and Ben Finley (with Finley defeating Carolina as previously mentioned).

This year, Doeren deviated from the MJ Morris redshirt strategy when Brennan Armstrong, a transfer from Virginia, had difficulties, but Morris then chose to not start in order to maintain his redshirt status.

During Howell’s three-year tenure, he only sat out one game against Wofford, while Maye has not missed any games.

Mike Elko from Duke has joined the conversation. Just think about where the Blue Devils would be if both Riley Leonard and Henry Belin had not been injured.

Reworded: Although Brown is highly regarded as a recruiter and supporter of the UNC program, some may argue that he currently ranks as the third best coach in the Triangle. Fans of NC Central may question this and bring up the success of Trei Oliver and his emphasis on “Culture over scheme,” which also applies to Brown. While UNC’s football team has a strong legacy and recognizable colors, their performance on the field may not match up.

On Saturday, Brown’s statement was that he did not adequately prepare the team, and this has become a repeated occurrence. Since 2020, his teams have lost seven times despite being favored by double digits. It is particularly baffling that they lost at home to Virginia, even though they won the turnover battle, and gave up an eleven-point lead in the fourth quarter against Georgia Tech in consecutive games. He has had multiple coordinators on both offense and defense. While the hiring of Chip Lindsey was mostly successful, bringing back Gene Chizik was a major failure, so it is likely that more changes will be made. At this point, simply making changes to the coaching staff may not be enough.

Bubba Cunningham, the athletic director, will need to discover a successor for Brown in the future, whether Brown chooses to retire on his own or is asked to leave. While Brown’s success as a national championship winning coach will always be remembered in Tar Heel history, his role was never intended to be a long-term one. The post-Brown era may not bring better results, but a change in culture is necessary for Carolina, regardless of whether he stays or departs.