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Carl Torbush obituary | Remembering Carl Torbush, Mack Brown’s Successor at North Carolina

Carl Torbush obituary: Carl Torbush, the defensive specialist who succeeded Mack Brown as head coach at the University of North Carolina after Brown’s first tenure, has died at the age of 72. Torbush passed away on Sunday, November 6th, 2022. The cause of death was not provided by East Tennessee State University, where Torbush last coached.

Torbush’s Coaching Career

After serving as defensive coordinator for the Tar Heels under Brown, Torbush took over as head coach when Brown departed for the University of Texas in 1997. He guided UNC to an 11-1 record in 1997, capping the season with a dominant 42-3 victory over Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl. The following year, UNC finished 7-5 with a Las Vegas Bowl win. However, after a disappointing 5-6 season in 2000, Torbush was let go from UNC with a 17-18 overall record as head coach.

Prior to North Carolina, Torbush served as an assistant coach at various colleges, including Texas A&M, Ole Miss, and Mississippi State. After leaving UNC, he was the defensive coordinator at Alabama under Dennis Franchione from 2001-2002. The Tide had a top 5 defense both seasons with Torbush at the helm.

Coaching at East Tennessee State

In 2015, Torbush returned to head coaching when he took over at East Tennessee State University. ETSU had just reinstated its football program after a 10-year hiatus. Torbush went 11-22 over 3 seasons leading the Buccaneers’ rebuild. Though the wins didn’t pile up, Torbush was credited with establishing a solid culture and foundation for the program moving forward.

Legacy and Remembrances

Current UNC head coach Mack Brown, who coached Torbush in his first stint in Chapel Hill, issued a statement saying “We lost a great man too soon.” He praised Torbush for positively impacting many lives and called him “the architect” of UNC’s dominant defenses in the mid-90s.

The North Carolina program also called Torbush “a heck of a football coach” and sent condolences to his family. Torbush’s defensive prowess was a major factor in Brown’s early success at UNC. His stint as head coach never reached the heights of Brown’s tenure, but Torbush laid the groundwork for sustained success.


Carl Torbush was a respected defensive mind and dedicated coach who made his mark at numerous college programs over a long career. Though his time as head coach at UNC was relatively short, he played a pivotal role in the rise of 1990s Tar Heel football. Torbush will be remembered for his integrity, leadership, and passion for the game. He leaves behind a lasting legacy in the many lives he impacted. College football has lost a great coach and man far too soon.

Read More: https://www.elizabethton.com/2020/02/27/carter-co-sports-hall-of-fame-hosts-carl-torbush-as-guest-speaker/

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