Mack Brown moves quickly in hiring Gene Chizik, Charlton Warren to UNC coaching staff

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In this photo from August 2015, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik makes a point to Tar Heels players during a football practice.
In this photo from August 2015, North Carolina defensive coordinator Gene Chizik makes a point to Tar Heels players during a football practice.

CHAPEL HILL — Coach Mack Brown didn’t wait long or take an unfamiliar route in promptly filling the openings on his North Carolina football staff.

Gene Chizik has become the Tar Heels’ assistant head coach for defense, and Charlton Warren has been named co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach, Brown said Saturday, one day after Jay Bateman and Jovan Dewitt were out of their coaching jobs with the team.

Chizik and Warren return to the program after working together on the North Carolina defensive staff during the 2015 and 2016 seasons, under former coach Larry Fedora.

Chizik, who turned 60 on Dec. 28, hasn’t coached since stepping down as North Carolina’s defensive coordinator in February 2017 to spend more time with his family in the Auburn, Ala., area. Now, he’s reuniting with Brown. He worked under Brown as the defensive coordinator at Texas, and they were together when the Longhorns claimed the 2005 national championship, fueled by the brilliance of quarterback Vince Young.

Chizik won another national title in 2010 as the coach at Auburn, with Cam Newton dazzling at quarterback. He held Auburn’s top job from 2009-12 and led the Tigers to three bowl victories, including the BCS title game. Chizik worked a television analyst role for the SEC Network before his first stop at North Carolina. He returned to the SEC Network upon leaving the Tar Heels after the 2016 season.

“Gene is one of college football’s great defensive minds and we’re excited that he’s returning to lead our unit,” Brown said Saturday in a statement. “He’s spent the last five years in the media studying college football, so like me, he’s had a chance to look at a number of different schemes, while staying on top of how the game has evolved over the last few years.

“Gene has been approached a number of times for head coach or defensive coordinator jobs during that time, but decided this was the best opportunity at the right time for him.”

On Friday, a North Carolina football spokesman said Bateman, the Tar Heels defensive coordinator across the last three seasons, and Dewitt, the team’s outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator for two seasons, wouldn’t remain on Brown’s staff.

Assistant coach Charlton Warren, right, greets former North Carolina defensive back Dominquie Green after his interception return for a touchdown against The Citadel in November 2016.
Assistant coach Charlton Warren, right, greets former North Carolina defensive back Dominquie Green after his interception return for a touchdown against The Citadel in November 2016.

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During Chizik’s first stint in Chapel Hill from 2015-16, he turned around a defense that ranked No. 120 in yards per game the season prior to his arrival. North Carolina was the nation’s most improved Power 5 defense in 2015, allowing 14.5 points per game fewer than the previous year.

The Tar Heels also had the most improved pass defense in the country in both efficiency and yards per pass attempt, and were the fifth-most improved team in passing yards given up per game. North Carolina led the Atlantic Coast Conference in interceptions, turnovers gained, turnover margin and passes defended on the way to a record-setting 11-3 season, a berth in the ACC championship game and a No. 15 final ranking in both national polls.

Warren, considered an accomplished recruiter, comes back to Chapel Hill after spending last season as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach at Indiana.

Prior to his stay with the Hoosiers, Warren spent the 2019 and 2020 seasons on the Georgia defensive staff, coaching defensive backs. He helped Georgia to two SEC East championships and two New Year’s Six bowl games. Warren made assistant coaching stops at Tennessee (2017) and Florida (2018) after his first stint at North Carolina.

“Charlton has a wealth of experience at a number of the top programs around the country,” Brown said, “has recruited at a high level, and with his previous experience in Chapel Hill and working with Gene, I expect him to be a great fit with our staff.”

Adam Smith is a sports reporter for the Burlington Times-News and USA TODAY Network. You can reach him by email at asmith@thetimesnews.com or @adam_smithTN on Twitter.

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This article originally appeared on Times-News: UNC football: Mack Brown moves quickly on Gene Chizik, Charlton Warren

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