As the 2020 college football season draws closer to a conclusion, the 20th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (7-3) look ahead to the regular season finale with No. 9 Miami (8-1) on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 3:30 p.m. ET (TV: ABC/ Radio: WBT).
With the ACC championship already set with No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 3 Clemson, the top 25 match-up will have no overall bearing on conference play, but to get through an unprecedented and at some times chaotic season is an accomplishment within itself. One that UNC coach Mack Brown doesn’t take lightly knowing the true struggles some have faced with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coaches and players are creatures of routine and most of this year we’ve had no clue about what’s next,” the Hall of Fame coach told Nick Wilson and Stan Norfleet on WFNZ Monday. “When you would ask a question about testing for COVID, or practice for COVID, or will we play this weekend, the answer was always ‘I’m not sure’… ‘I don’t know’.”
Perhaps this will go down as the most challenging year in Brown’s career. Not for the play on the field, but for the ‘unknowns’ that’ve happened with no advanced notice. North Carolina was scheduled to play Charlotte earlier this year, but the game was canceled due to Coronavirus issues within the 49ers football program. A phone call Mack Brown received two days before the game during a practice.
“It has just been a year of so many unknowns that it’s been difficult,” Brown said. One upside to those ‘unknowns’ was the Tar Heels came together stronger and helped to hold each other accountable. Brown is thankful for those around him who’ve been so supportive during this uneasy time.
“The players have really picked me because I got down this spring,” Brown admitted.
“Just thinking about people dying and people losing their jobs and people that couldn’t feed their children. I can’t think of things that are worse than that. People getting kicked out of their homes and being homeless. And then we couldn’t see our players. I thought, ‘What am I doing back in coaching?’ I came back to mentor young people and I can’t even see them or talk to them.” Brown’s wife, Sally, stood by her man and reminded him this is when leadership is needed the most.
UNC will be heading to a bowl game for a second straight year. As for Brown, it will be a 24th trip to the postseason during the course of his 32 years as a head coach.
Listen to the entire interview with Mack Brown on WFNZ below.