JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Former UNC football coach Carl Torbush has died, the East Tennessee State athletic department announced Monday 

Torbush was a defensive assistant during head coach Mack Brown’s first tenure in Chapel Hill, and took the head job when Brown left for Texas after the team’s landmark 1997 season. 

He was 72. 

The East Spencer native was hired by ETSU in June 2013 to lead the Bucs back onto the gridiron, after a decade-long hiatus. He compiled a record of 11-22 in three seasons with ETSU. 

He helped lead the program to its first victory of a new era over Warner on Oct. 31, 2015. The Bucs earned their first SoCon win under Torbush at Bristol Motor Speedway, 34-31 against Western Carolina in 2016. 

Those who worked alongside Torbush during his time at ETSU remembered him as a great man, both on and off the field. 

“That positive attitude, that his willingness to reach out to people, to engage with everybody and do whatever needed to be done to make people happy,” said Dr. Richard Sander, ETSU director of athletics. 

Torbush played football and baseball at Carson-Newman in the early 1970s, starting his football coaching career at Baylor in 1975. Over the next 40 years, he coached at various levels of the game, including a notable stint with UNC from 1988-2000. 

In three seasons leading the Tar Heels, he compiled a record of 17-18. The 1997 team went 11-1 with Torbush as defensive coordinator.

UNC’s football team produced the following statement:

It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Carl Torbush. Coach Torbush was a great man and a heck of a football coach. The Carolina Football Family sends its condolences to Coach’s loved ones during this difficult time.

Carolina Football

While head coach at UNC, he coached Panthers Hall of Fame member Julius Peppers and former Pro Bowl cornerback and Tar Heels assistant Dre Bly.