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Mack Brown Didn't Come Back to Play It Safe

CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Mack Brown of the North Carolina Tar Heels watches him team play against the Clemson Tigers during the second half of their game at Kenan Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Clemson won 21-20. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Clemson v North Carolina | Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Mack Brown returned to college football because the sidelines are a live wire with voltage even the most exciting studio environment can't replicate. He announced his return by overseeing a big North Carolina comeback against South Carolina in the season's opening week. The Tar Heels have shown signs of life and presented all kinds of headaches for Clemson today in Chapel Hill.

Trailing by one with 1:14 to go, Brown stared at destiny and dove in headfirst, opting to go for two points and the lead. The quarterback option play dialed up never threatened the end zone, as the Tigers' elite defensive unit came up big when it mattered most to preserve a victory and keep national championship hopes alive.

Brown was absolutely right to go for broke. All the cliches apply. He had nothing to lose. He was playing with house money. It wasn't the ideal play call -- then again, what is against Clemson?

Though North Carolina played the defending champions close for 59 minutes, overtime was a dangerous proposition. There was also plenty of time for the Trevor Lawrence offense to get into field goal position for the go-ahead score.

This was Brown's best chance to pull off the shocker. He certainly didn't come back to the game to play it safe. His foray into television taught him how to create good television.

Going for the win was certainly that. A man living his second life as a coach reminded us all about YOLO. Dabo Swinney & Co. live to fight another day knowing a singular blemish will stick out like a sore thumb to the selection committee.

This season, which has been slow to start in the drama department, has its signature moment.