Carl Torbush, Mack Brown's successor at North Carolina, dies

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Carl Torbush, a defensive specialist who succeeded Mack Brown as North Carolina's head football coach after Brown's first tenure and later coached at East Tennessee State, has died. He was 72.

ETSU said Monday that Torbush died Sunday. It didn't provide a cause of death.

University President Brian Noland said the coach would be remembered as a man of vision and character and praised him for his leadership and nurturing as the school restarted football after a decade-long hiatus.

"In Coach Torbush, we found not only a remarkable coach, but also a man of unwavering integrity who embodied the spirit of ETSU," Noland said in a statement.

Torbush ascended from Tar Heels defensive coordinator to head coach after Brown departed for Texas in December 1997 and guided them to a 42-3 Gator Bowl rout of Virginia Tech to cap an 11-1 season. UNC was 7-5 the next year with a Las Vegas Bowl victory and Torbush was let go after the 2000 campaign with a 17-18 record.

His career record was 31-48, including 11-22 at ETSU from 2015-17 and 3-8 at Louisiana Tech in 1987.

Brown, now in his second stint at UNC, said about Torbush, "We lost a great man too soon," in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. The coach added that Torbush touched many lives in a positive way and loved football, especially defense.

"He was the architect of one of college football's greatest defenses during the '96 and '97 seasons here at Carolina," Brown added. "We send our deepest condolences to Carl's family and friends. He will be missed."

The program called Torbush "a heck of a football coach," on X and sent condolences to Torbush's family.

Torbush was Alabama's defensive coordinator under Dennis Franchione in 2001-02, helping the Crimson Tide rank third nationally in total defense and fifth in scoring defense his second season.

His coaching stops included Texas A&M, Mississippi, Mississippi State, Southeastern Louisiana, Carson-Newman, Kansas and Liberty. Torbush was also SLU's baseball coach from 1977-79.