There is no question that UNC is known more for its basketball program than its football program. But there is quite a tradition of winning football in Chapel Hill.
Way back in 1898, UNC had an unbeaten season, finishing 9-0 under head coach William Reynolds. In fact, UNC under Coach Reynolds, won 27 games with only 7 losses from 1897 to 1900. From 1897 to 1904, UNC was an outstanding 50-15. In 1914, under head man Thomas Trenchard, UNC had a 10-1 record.
Bill Fetzer actually coached N.C. State in the 1919 and 1920 seasons to a 14-5 record, then was head coach at UNC from 1921 to 1925, compiling a 30-12 overall record, which included a 9-1 season in 1922. Chuck Collins was a player for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame on the 1924 national title team, then was hired to coach at UNC and was 38-31 from 1926 to 1933, which included a 9-1 record in 1929. Carl Snavely was UNC head man from 1934 to 1935, and came back to Chapel Hill from 1945 to 1952.
Coach Snavely compiled a 59-35 record during those years. Without a doubt, Coach Snavely, is one of the best coaches ever to be on the sideline in Chapel Hill. He was 42-16 at Bucknell, 46-26 at Cornell, and 33-19 at Washington University in St. Louis, for an overall coaching record of 180-96. UNC played in the 1946 Sugar Bowl, the 1948 Sugar Bowl, and the 1949 Cotton Bowl, but lost all three. These were the first bowl games in Tar Heel history. Coach Snavely brought Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice to UNC, one of the most famous football players ever at UNC.
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Raymond Wolf had good success at UNC as head coach from 1936 to 1941, with a record of 38-17. Jim Tatum had two tenures in Chapel Hill, going 5-2 in 1942, and then was 19-17 from 1956 to 1958. Coach Tatum had his most success at Maryland, with a record of 73-15 from 1947 to 1955, which included winning the 1953 national championship. Coach Tatum finished with an overall coaching record of 100-35.
Bill Dooley coached at UNC from 1967 to 1977, finishing 69-53. Coach Dooley led the Tar Heels to one of its best seasons on the gridiron ever in 1972, when UNC finished 11-1 and won the Sun Bowl. More success followed Coach Dooley at Virginia Tech, where he finished 64-38 from 1978 to 1986, and at Wake Forest from 1988 to 1992, where he was 29-36. Coach Dooley finished with 163 wins and 126 losses at these three schools.
Dick Crum was 72-41 at UNC from 1978 to 1987. The two season stretch of 1980 and 1981 was one of the best in school history. The 1980 team finished 11-1 and won over Texas in the Bluebonnet Bowl, and the 1981 team was 10-2 and beat Arkansas in the Gator Bowl. Mack Brown’s tenure in Chapel Hill was 1988 to 1997, and he won 69 games with 46 losses. His last two seasons at UNC was 21-3, which is when Texas came calling, and Coach Brown won 158 games with 48 losses there, with one national title. Butch Davis had great success at Miami before coming to UNC. The present coach at UNC, Larry Fedora, heading into the 2017 season, is 40-25 as the head man. UNC’s best season under Coach Fedora is the 11-3 season of 2015, when they won the Coastal Division of the ACC.
UNC has played in 33 bowl games, winning 14 and losing 19. There have been 8 conference championships, with the most recent being the ACC in 1980. There have been 30 first team All-American players, and just a few of the most famous players were Charlie Justice, Don McCauley, Lawrence Taylor, Chris Hanburger, Art Weiner, and Julius Peppers.
UNC and Duke played each other for the first time in 1888, which Duke, then called Trinity, won. But overall, UNC is 55-35-4 against the Blue Devils. UNC won 13 straight versus Duke from 1990 to 2002. By the way, UNC is 35-29 against N.C. State.
In all the years of UNC football, its record is 655 wins with 503 losses. As you can see, UNC has quite a tradition of good football to go along with the great success they have had in basketball.