Now that he is settling back into his old stomping grounds in Chapel Hill, North Carolina head coach Mack Brown is looking to take things in a new direction for the Tar Heels when it comes to offense. According to a report from Inside Carolina, North Texas offensive coordinator Graham Harrell will be joining the Tar Heels to be Brown’s offensive coordinator. However, there is a conflicting report from Bruce Feldman of The Athletic saying Harrell will stay put at North Texas.
Although Harrell and Brown have no previous connection in the coaching game, the two are surely familiar with each other from their time in the Big 12. Harrell was the quarterback at Texas Tech for one of the biggest wins in school history against Brown’s No. 1 Texas Longhorns in 2007. Harrell’s pass to Michael Crabtree remains a highlight that is recognized as one of the top plays in college football in the 21st century and perhaps even farther back.
Harrell got his start in the coaching game with Oklahoma State as a quality control coach in 2009, but he spent the next few years trying to stick in the NFL with the New York Jets and Green Bay Packers. He returned to coaching a few years ago with his former Texas Tech head coach, Mike Leach, at Washington State in 2014. Harrell spent two seasons as Washington State’s wide receivers coach before getting the opportunity to be an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at North Texas in 2016.
If it does happen, the addition of Harrell would suggest Brown is open to allowing the offense to take to the air with an air-raid style. That’s the system Harrell has played and coached in, so he will surely be comfortable trying to implement such a system at UNC. How quickly that turns things around for UNC’s offense, which ranked 35th in the nation this season, remains to be seen. North Texas ranked 15th in total offense this season with an average of 472.8 yards per game. UNC’s offense did not tend to struggle to move the ball under Larry Fedora‘s style of offense, but Brown would hope Harrell can take the offense to a new gear with some success in the ACC.