ACC: Mack Brown

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June, 11, 2014
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The Spurs just hit another shot ...
NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- The hits just keep coming for Texas, which can’t seem to find a coach to replace Mack Brown.

Well, here’s some good news: If the Longhorns hire Jimbo Fisher, they’ll get a two-for-one deal, scoring the Heisman Trophy winner, too.

The odds of that happening don’t look good, of course, especially because Fisher recently signed a new contract with Florida State. And Texas already had its chance at quarterback Jameis Winston.

“Through the whole recruiting process, I said to my coach, ‘We got to get Texas on the phone,’ ” Winston said.

Winston even tried to get Brown on the phone himself.

“I tried to call him a couple times because I really like Texas,” he said.

It’s probably better it didn’t work out. After all, Winston said he was an Oklahoma fan.

SWINGING FOR THE STARS

Who says Winston can’t play both baseball and football at the next level?

“You can do anything you put your mind to,” the two-sport star said. “A lot of people are going to say, ‘No way, he’s a quarterback.’ Bo Jackson was a running back. The one thing I always seem to do is gain the trust of my teammates. Even being in the NFL, if I can convince those guys I can be your quarterback, I can go play baseball for the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees. I can’t talk about that, because I’m living in the moment right now.”

On Tuesday, he’ll be ready to talk baseball again.

“Right now I got one thing on my mind, win the national championship on Monday. Tuesday comes, I’ll be ready for it then. I’m pretty sure [Florida State baseball] coach Mike Martin, he’ll talk to me about it then. I know he’s not saying nothing about baseball to me right now.”

HAPPY RETURNS

Prior to this season, Auburn's Chris Davis had not returned any punts or kicks during his college career, but it wasn't because he didn't try.

"I'd been asking. I never got the opportunity," said Davis, who led the SEC in punt return average this season and also returned the missed field goal against Alabama 109 yards for a touchdown.

Asked what reason the previous coaching staff at Auburn gave him for not giving him a shot to return kicks, Davis said, "They didn’t have an answer for me."

Auburn's current special teams coach, Scott Fountain, was the director of player personnel on the previous staff and made it known when the new regime arrived that Davis was plenty capable as a return man. Davis had excelled as a return specialist in high school.

The rest, as they say, is history.

"I’d mention it every year. I’d go back and catch punts and kicks at the beginning of the season, but I never got the opportunity," Davis said. "I thank Coach Fountain and Coach [Gus] Malzahn for the opportunity."

NOT BACKING DOWN

Florida State's receivers, led by 6-foot-5, 234-pound sophomore Kelvin Benjamin, are big, physical and explosive.

Benjamin has 14 touchdown catches entering Monday's Vizio BCS National Championship, which presents quite a challenge for an Auburn pass defense that ranked last in the SEC this season.

But the Tigers are adamant they're not going to all of a sudden change it up.

"We’ve mixed it up, but man[-to-man coverage] is our base," Auburn defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson said. "We’re going to play man. LSU had great receivers. Georgia had good receivers. Missouri’s got bigger receivers than Florida State’s got. We’ve seen all types. We’ve seen some of the best. At all times, we haven’t stopped them, but you can’t just give up on something.

"I think a lot of people have been intimidated out of man coverage against them early in the game because they can’t score on them. If we score on them and hold the ball on them a little bit, we’ll have a chance to be more aggressive. If we don’t, we’re going to have a hard time."

GETTING DRAFTY

Florida State junior running back Devonta Freeman said he turned his papers into the NFL draft evaluation board but hasn’t heard back from it yet. Freeman said when he does, he will talk to Fisher about possibly entering the draft.
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's latest feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today's offerings: Why Rutgers should be more than able to hold its own recruiting in the Big Ten, how we should look for even more Class of 2016 commitments, and when one of the nation’s top running backs will make his selection.

Rutgers reeling them in
Rutgers likely won’t dethrone Michigan and Ohio State from the top of the Big Ten recruiting rankings when its move is official, but the way the Scarlet Knights have been recruiting for the Class of 2014 certainly has to give fans reason for excitement.

The Butch Davis era began at North Carolina in November 2007 with high hopes. It ended Monday in the dreadful, funereal ritual of the release of a report of the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

Just coincidence, said committee chair Britton Banowsky, the Conference USA commissioner, that the report came out the day after North Carolina became a No. 1 seed in the NCAA men's basketball tournament for a national-record 14th time. But the timing provided a reminder of what the university hired Davis to achieve and how spectacularly he failed to do so.

Over the course of the 1990s, Mack Brown had built the Tar Heels into a national power. He commandeered the resources to build one of the first Taj Mahals in the sport -- a $50 million palace of offices and facilities that announced to recruits and rivals that North Carolina took football seriously.

As much as Brown achieved, he couldn't lift the Tar Heels into the BCS hierarchy where the Florida States played. Though Brown left for Texas after the 1997 season, he had planted the seed. Nine years of mediocrity under Carl Torbush and John Bunting failed to dim the potential that Brown had kindled in the program.

Davis rebuilt a Miami team struck down by NCAA penalties and took them to the precipice of a national championship. When Davis left after the 2000 season for the Cleveland Browns, Larry Coker, his top assistant, took over and won the next 23 games. With the foundation assembled by Davis, Coker coached the Hurricanes within a double overtime of two consecutive crystal footballs.

That builder is who the Tar Heels assumed they hired. And Davis, a coaching lifer who traveled from Oklahoma high schools to the NFL, wanted to create a football empire on Tobacco Road.

For Ivan Maisel's full column, click here.

ACC's lunchtime links

July, 6, 2010
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Name this tune ... (no cheating! I'll give you the answer in tomorrow's links.)
As frosh we adore her
As sophs we explore her
And carve our names upon her ancient walls. As juniors patrol her
As seniors extol her
And weep to leave for'er her sacred halls.

Mack Brown gives Clemson 'CliffsNotes' on coaching

March, 9, 2009
3/09/09
4:53
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

There were plenty of reasons for the Clemson staff's visit to Texas earlier this month, but the X's and O's were only a part of it. Coach Dabo Swinney called Mack Brown's office on Jan. 1 to see if the Tigers could visit because he wanted to take the staff to a program that had faced some similar obstacles.

"There was a program that had not won a national championship since 1970," Swinney said. "Texas has great tradition, but for whatever reason they had lost their way. Mack Brown goes out there and they win a national championship in '05 -- 35 years since they had won a championship.

"I just wanted to go see the big picture," he said, "... how they turned it around there, how they got everybody to start to believe again and those types of things. They've got all the resources you can imagine but yet they weren't winning. Here at Clemson we've been winning, but Clemson is all about championships. That's my job, to try to get us to that next level."

Of course, Swinney also wanted his new offensive and defensive coordinators to pick up a few notes while they were there. Swinney said he plans on having a more aggressive game plan on defense, do a few things differently with coverages and pressure, but will remain a 4-3 defense. Offensively, he said they'll keep a lot of terminology, but continue some of the changes they began in the second half of the season, as far as how they used personnel. They'll operate primarily out of a spread offense and be multiple in what they do. They want to run the ball, use play-action, throw some screens, but their ultimate goal, Swinney said, is to be more balanced.

Swinney said he probably took seven pages of notes just in talking to Brown. He said Brown and his staff gave them a lot of time, and they went out to dinner one night.

"It was mission accomplished," Swinney said. "It was great for us offensively, it was great for us defensively, I almost feel guilty about how good it was for me as a head coach. It's almost like cheating. He's like a walking book of CliffsNotes after 26 years as a head coach. It was almost like he could read my mind on a lot of things."

It was a trip that could only help the Tigers this year.

Virginia Tech nixes head-coach-in-waiting idea

December, 17, 2008
12/17/08
3:36
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

Virginia Tech athletic director Jim Weaver said today officials have nixed the idea of a head-coach-in-waiting plan for defensive coordinator Bud Foster or anyone else on staff for that matter.

When Clemson interviewed Foster for the head coaching job, Weaver expressed interest in learning more about the plan Texas announced, which will make defensive coordinator Will Muschamp the next head coach once Mack Brown retires. Weaver said that scenario won't work in Blacksburg.

"I've talked to our president, and I've talked to coach [Frank] Beamer and we see the coach-in-waiting concept as something that's viable for a year, maybe a maximum of two years if you know there's going to be transition, but coach Beamer could be here another eight, 10, 12 years and we just don't think that's the kind of arrangement we want to have with that kind of tenure still possible," Weaver said.

Weaver said Foster flirted with the possibility of joining Florida's staff in 1998, and that Steve Spurrier tried to lure Foster to South Carolina last year.

"Bud Foster knows how we feel about him and where we want him to be," Weaver said. "If Bud wants to be a head coach, and he has the opportunity at this stage in his career, he needs to do that. So far the right job hasn't come along for him. We'll do everything to keep him here at Virginia Tech as long as we can, but ... but the coach-in-waiting concept is a viable concept when it's a one- or a two-year deal, but a long-term situation is not good, we don't think."

It's a smart decision that will avoid the sort of speculation Florida State ran into when Jimbo Fisher was wooed by West Virginia, and his name was associated with the vacancy at Auburn. Foster's name is going to surface again for another head coaching job, and he deserves the opportunity to pursue it.

There's no point in getting engaged if the wedding won't be planned for another decade, right? For Foster and Virginia Tech, the time just isn't right to make a commitment.

Withers the right man for the job at UNC

August, 13, 2008
8/13/08
5:58
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

 
 Jeff Gross/Getty Images
 Everett Withers was the defensive backs coach with the Tennessee Titans from 2001-2006.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- First-year defensive coordinator Everett Withers was a good hire for North Carolina.

He's got connections all over the place -- he grew up in Charlotte, he worked for Mack Brown at Texas, and he wanted to play at UNC but "wasn't good enough" and instead played defensive back at Appalachian State.

But that's not the reason he seems to be the right man for the job, and it only took 12 minutes in his office today to draw that conclusion. Mainly because of how he answered my non-question about his 2007 Minnesota defense, which ranked 119th out of 119 programs in total defense. With Withers as their defensive coordinator, the Golden Gophers allowed a whopping 518.67 yards per game.

"Don't take this the wrong way," I said, "but Minnesota's defense last year ..."

"Awful," he said, finishing my sentence.

Withers took some blame, saying he might have tried to compensate for a lack of talent with a complicated defense, but probably confused the players instead of helping them. He's not the first defensive coordinator tasked with trying to turn around Minnesota's defense, and the Texas secondary improved from 75th in the nation in pass defense in 1997 to first in 2000, so it's not like he hasn't had results before.

The bottom line is this: Withers thinks he has more talent to work with at UNC and is convinced it's enough for the Tar Heels to be a legitimate contender in the ACC.

"This place is on the right track," he said. "It's on the right track, getting the talent you need to compete and be a BCS team. This program is on that track."

Withers is not trying to change things drastically, rather he's trying to simplify things for a defense that, as linebacker Chase Rice put it, doesn't want to "have to think when we're out there, because when we think, that's no good for any defense."

Especially one with so many questions at cornerback.

"Everett, his attention to detail has been very, very good in the secondary because he's got a huge challenge, not only being the defensive coordinator, but it's an area of enormous scrutiny with this football team," coach Butch Davis said. "We feel very comfortable with the safeties. We think we've got four, maybe five safeties who are pretty good players. But corner is truly really an unsettled situation. I think his experience is giving those guys confidence, having coached the corners an awful lot. They trust him, they believe in him. He did it in the NFL. There's that willingness to listen to him."

So far, Kendric Burney has one starting spot, but there is tough competition between Jordan Hemby and Charles Brown at the other spot. Hemby, a junior, is finally healthy after being injured each of the past two seasons, and Brown is a sophomore who made nine starts as a true freshman in 2007 at either cornerback or nickel back.

"The kids are working hard," Withers said. "All of those kids have gotten better since we ended in the spring. I've gotta help them some and not put them in situations where they're going to be exposed all the time, but they're working hard and they're competing. We've got our hands full, but we'll compete and fight."

Coaches agree to uniformly release injury info

July, 21, 2008
7/21/08
4:52
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Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

GREENSBORO, Ga. -- At this morning's meeting with conference commissioner John Swofford, the ACC football coaches decided to have a uniform policy for releasing injury information.

Virginia coach Al Groh said the idea originated with Mack Brown, but Tom O'Brien and Ralph Friedgen were the ones to initiate it here. Not a huge surprise, considering Friedgen once closed practices in College Park because I reported his leading tackler was wearing a non-contact jersey at practice one day.

So now each team's athletic trainer will compile a list every Monday of players who had surgery or are out for the season. On Thursday, another list will come out and players will be deemed "probable, questionable, doubtful or out." 

It's a guideline -- not a rule -- so coaches can still withhold information if they want to.

"I think everyone is looking for a way to get the information out uniformly, and the way the NFL does it is probably smart," said Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson. "They have a listing, there's a certain time they release it and that's kind of what we're looking to do as a conference."

The coaches who will encounter problems with this are the ones who open practices to the media, because nobody is going to keep quiet if they see a player like Drew Weatherford suddenly on crutches just because it's a Wednesday.

This will be interesting to watch this season. Back to interviews with the coaches ... Atlantic Division is coming in ...

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