Pregame Keys: Swinney might text Mack Brown to ask him the keys to the game


by - Senior Writer -
Brown talks to the media at the ACC Kickoff.
Brown talks to the media at the ACC Kickoff.

CLEMSON – At some point this week, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney will look down at his phone and see that he’s received a text from North Carolina head coach Mack Brown. Swinney will reply to the text and ask Brown the three keys for beating the Tar Heels.

Brown coached the Tar Heels from 1988-1997, amassing a 69-46-1 record during his tenure. He followed that up with a 16-year stay at Texas where he fashioned a National Championship and a 158-48 mark. Brown then worked as an analyst at ESPN before accepting a return to Chapel Hill last November.

No. 1 Clemson faces off against Brown and North Carolina Saturday at 3:30 pm in Kenan Stadium, and Swinney will get to renew acquaintances with someone he admires and sees as a mentor. If he gets a little information along the way? That’s even better.

"I have not talked to him yet. I'm sure we will touch base some time this week. He'll probably shoot me a text or I will shoot him a text,” Swinney told TigerNet Sunday. “He was on television for five or six years and would often shoot me a text the night before the game. He'd say, 'Hey, give me your top keys (to the game).' I'd always send him two or three things. He was doing his preparation for television. Maybe I'll send him one this week and ask him what his keys are.”

Brown is best friends with two other Swinney mentors.

“Two of the most important people in Dabo’s life - Coach (Gene) Stallings the and Woodrow McCorvey - are two of my best friends and two people that I admire more than anybody else,” Brown told TigerNet. “The first thing you have to do is surround yourself with really good people. That’s two of the best. Coach Stallings is tough and leads him. He talks to him about what to do and what not to do. Woodrow just runs everything. He’s just kind of behind the scenes. He’s got this personality and Dabo and I are like this.”

Swinney has no doubt that Brown will be successful at North Carolina.

"He's going to put a foundation in place,” Swinney said. “He's going to recruit. He's going to create a belief. He's already done that when you watch them through these first four games. They could easily be 4-0 right now. He will create a vision there, and I don't have any doubt that it'll materialize. I think he's having a ball. I think he's going to make them a winner. He'll make them a consistent winner again.”

Swinney said a highlight of the day will be coaching against not only someone he respects and admires but also a Hall of Famer.

“It is fun when you compete against someone you know and respect,” Swinney said. “I've never had a chance to coach against him. I didn't think I'd ever have that opportunity. It's a pretty neat opportunity for me to compete against one of the best to ever do it, a Hall of Famer, a guy that I think has been great for the profession. He has done things the right way."

When Swinney was named as Clemson’s permanent head coach following the 2008 season, and Brown was the only head coach at that time who would let Swinney in the door to see how he runs a program.

“When I had just gotten the job, I got our first recruiting class in, and I wanted to go meet with a couple of head coaches,” Swinney said. “Mack was the only one who would let me come. I didn't know Mack Brown, but he had followed us during the interim time and called me back. He welcomed me and my whole staff out there. It was great. I didn't know him, but I had a lot of respect for him from afar. I just always liked how he handled himself. I just thought he'd be a good guy to go sit down and talk and observe how they did things. I wanted to watch a practice.”

"He had a huge impact on me early on. Some of it gave me confidence in what I was doing and gave me some ideas on some things that would fit our program. Texas was in a different spot than we were in 2009, but I had a very clear vision of what I wanted us to look like. Sitting down with a guy like Mack Brown in 2009 was a big deal for me."

The Tar Heels have lost two consecutive games after an 0-2 start, and Brown says no one should forward to playing the Tigers.

“Am I excited about hosting them? Absolutely not. Nobody would want to play those suckers,” Brown said. “When Bubba (UNC AD) called and Dabo heard the rumor that I might come back, he texted and asked, ‘Are you really going to go back to North Carolina?’ I told him only if can appeal to the NCAA not to play you. It didn’t work.”

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