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UNC hires Ole Miss offensive coordinator Phil Longo to run the offense, school announces

Mack Brown speaks about his quick transition back to UNC football

At a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, Mack Brown spoke to a large crowd about how excited he is to meet and get started with the UNC-Chapel Hill football team.
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At a press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, Mack Brown spoke to a large crowd about how excited he is to meet and get started with the UNC-Chapel Hill football team.

North Carolina coach Mack Brown said he wanted an offensive coordinator who would help his team score a lot of points. He seems to have found that person.

Phil Longo, 48, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mississippi since December 2016, has been hired to serve in the same role, the school announced Tuesday evening.

UNC also announced that it had hired former Louisville co-offensive coordinator Lonnie Galloway to serve as its receivers coach, and former Texas Tech offensive line coach Brandon Jones to serve as offensive line coach.

“Phil Longo, Lonnie Galloway and Brandon Jones are three outstanding coaches, recruiters, teachers and mentors of young men,” Brown said in a statement. “Phil has been one of the most successful play callers in college football for many years and at every level. Lonnie and Brandon have tremendous ties to the state of North Carolina and will continue to build on their strong relationships with the great high school coaches in this state. I am so excited at how our coaching staff is taking shape and look forward to announcing the final pieces very soon.”

Under Longo, Ole Miss had the fifth-best passing offense in the country among FBS teams this past season, averaging 346.4 yards per game. Its rushing offense ranked 68th in the FBS, averaging 164.1 yards per game.

When asked last Tuesday, what he was looking for in an offensive coordinator, Brown said, “I want balance and fun on offense.”

“...We’ve got to score a lot of points so we’re going to do that.”

The Rebels’ offense under Longo featured a pass-heavy attack, averaging 37 passing attempts per game.

In 2018, Ole Miss had success throwing the ball deep. It successfully threw 42 passes that went for 30 yards or more, which was the best in the nation, 20 passes that went for 40 yards or more, and 11 passes that went for 50 yards or more, both of which were fourth-best in the nation.

Ole Miss averaged 33.9 points per game.

Those were areas in which UNC had struggled last season. The Tar Heels had 14 passing touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season. Their offense averaged 27.4 points, ranked No. 77 in the country.

On Sunday, UNC announced that it had hired Army West Point’s Jay Bateman as the co-defensive coordinator. Bateman is a finalist for the Broyles award, which is given to the top assistant coach in the country.

Breaking offensive records

Before Ole Miss, Longo was the offensive coordinator at FCS Sam Houston State, where his teams broke offensive records. In 2016, out of 122 FCS teams, Sam Houston State boasted the nation’s No. 1 total offense, averaging 547.3 yards per game, and the No. 2 scoring offense, averaging 49.5 points per game.

Sam Houston State had more than 4,500 passing yards that season, and more than 2,000 rushing yards.

Initially a high school coach, Longo started coaching college football in 2000 as an assistant coach at Division III William Paterson University. He became head coach at FCS La Salle in 2004. He moved on to be the offensive coordinator at Minnesota-Duluth in 2006, before heading to Southern Illinois in 2008. His next stop was Youngstown State in 2010 and Slippery Rock in 2012 and 2013 before Sam Houston State.

Galloway, who will coach the wide receivers, comes to UNC after four seasons at Louisville. He was the co-offensive coordinator, where he coached Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson. Galloway is also the second coach hired to Mack’s staff, who was involved in the ‘WakeyLeaks’ scandal, in which a Wake Forest staffer provided game plan information to a number of opposing coaches.

Bateman was suspended by the Army for two weeks and fined $25,000 in 2017 for accepting non-public game plan information on Wake Forest and trying to cover it up.

Galloway was suspended for Louisville’s Citrus Bowl game that season, according to the Courier-Journal. The ACC fined Louisville $25,000.

The information should not have been accepted,” then-Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said in a statement in December 2016. “It should have been rejected and officials at Wake Forest should have been alerted to the inappropriate action taken by Mr. Elrod.”

Jones, the new offensive line coach, spent two seasons at Texas Tech. Prior to that, he served as the run game coordinator at California for two years, and five seasons as the offensive line coach at East Carolina.

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Jonathan M. Alexander has been covering the North Carolina Tar Heels since May 2018. He previously covered Duke basketball and recruiting in the ACC. He is an alumnus of N.C. Central University.
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