North Carolina coaching candidates: Mack Brown, Tony Elliott, Gene Chizik on list of replacements


North Carolina became the fifth Power Five coaching job to open up Sunday when Larry Fedora was let go. Fedora may not be out of work long. If Texas Tech gets rid of Kliff Kingsbury, Fedora would be a natural fit. He has deep Big 12 ties and Tech continues to long for the consistency Mike Leach established.

North Carolina has been in slow decline but history shows it could be resuscitated quickly. The other Power Fives open as of now: Colorado, Maryland and Louisville. Kansas was filled last week by Les Miles.

These are the top candidates to replace Fedora at UNC.

1. Mack Brown, ESPN analyst: The former UNC coach (1988-97) has not been on a sideline since 2013 when he concluded a successful 16-year career leading Texas. But Brown’s 69-46-1 record with the Tar Heels, including a 20-3 mark his final two seasons, could have Cunningham thinking of him in a Bill Snyder-like role. That’s what Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls is hearing as a possibility, and there could be an interesting twist as former Auburn coach Gene Chizik (see below) could join Brown, 67, as a defensive coordinator and potential coach in waiting.

2. Seth Littrell, North Texas coach: Littrell will likely take a hard look at his former employer. He was the Tar Heels’ offensive coordinator from 2014-15. This would be a solid move for both parties. Littrell has won nine games with North Texas in back-to-back seasons. UNC has the potential to be competitive annually in the ACC. One possible sticking point: Littrell might want to consider Kansas State if Bill Snyder retires.

3. Tony Elliott, Clemson offensive coordinator: Elliott can continue to afford to be picky. There might be better jobs for him out there this season or next. Elliott has been the offensive brains behind Clemson’s three College Football Playoff runs (including a national championship).  The defending Broyles Award winner (nation’s best assistant coach) would get quite a get for UNC.

4. Mel Tucker, Georgia defensive coordinator: One of the most respected assistants in the game, Tucker has worked (successfully) for both Nick Saban and Kirby Smart. His three Georgia defenses have been in the top 20. Don’t forget a decade’s worth of experience in the NFL. The only question is whether UNC is in head-coach-only mode.

5. Scott Satterfield, Appalachian State coach: Satterfield is one of the hottest Group of Five coaches out there. He again has the Mountaineers in the Sun Belt Championship Game. Satterfield is young, solid, coach on the rise. He’s from the area but says he is completely happy at App State.

5. Gene Chizik, ESPN analyst: There is known to be mutual interest on both sides. Athletic director Bubba Cunningham could be picking Chizik’s brain or considering him to be Fedora’s successor. Chizik also has ties to UNC having been Fedora’s defensive coordinator from 2015-16. At issue is whether Cunningham wants to hire a defensive-minded coach in this age of shootouts when elite offense almost always beat elite defenses. Recruiting with a national championship ring (2010 Auburn) wouldn’t hurt.

6. Neal Brown, Troy coach: Is it me or does Brown’s name end up on just about every candidate’s list? In the last two seasons his teams have upset Nebraska and LSU. Brown was an offensive coordinator at both Texas Tech and Kentucky. This is his time. He has won 30 games the last three seasons. 

Source :