Favorite Musician of Every ACC/NC Head Football Coach
(Plus Some Fun Quotes/Stories Behind Those Picks)

By David Glenn
North Carolina Sports Network

Thanks to Brett McMurphy of The Action Network, we now know the favorite musical performer of almost every Football Bowl Subdivision head coach, including all seven here in North Carolina and all 14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Here’s the North Carolina (FBS) list:

Shawn Clark, Appalachian State — Luke Combs
Biff Poggi, Charlotte — Frank Sinatra
Mike Elko, Duke — Jay-Z
Mike Houston, East Carolina — Journey
Mack Brown, North Carolina — Eric Church
Dave Doeren, NC State — Merle Haggard
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest — Talking Heads

Here’s the ACC list:

Jeff Hafley, Boston College — Bruce Springsteen
Dabo Swinney, Clemson — Garth Brooks
Mike Elko, Duke — Jay-Z
Mike Norvell, Florida State — Bob Marley
Brent Key, Georgia Tech — Jimmy Buffett
Jeff Brohm, Louisville — LL Cool J
Mario Cristobal, Miami — Guns N’ Roses
Mack Brown, North Carolina — Eric Church
Dave Doeren, NC State — Merle Haggard
Pat Narduzzi, Pittsburgh — AC/DC
Dino Babers, Syracuse — James Brown
Tony Elliott, Virginia — Nas
Brent Pry, Virginia Tech — Allman Brothers
Dave Clawson, Wake Forest — Talking Heads

“I love everything about Merle Haggard: his voice, his song writing, what he’s singing about,” Doeren told the David Glenn Show. “When I had a job painting houses in high school, my boss actually pulled the knob off his radio so it played country music all day long and nobody could change the channel. By the end of the summer, we knew every word to every song.”

“I don’t know how anybody can listen to Naive Melody by Talking Heads and not be in a better mood,” Clawson told the David Glenn Show. “I saw them in Buffalo in the 1980s, and since then they’ve been one of my favorite bands.”

The selection of Combs, who attended App State, by Clark, an App State graduate and former Mountaineers offensive lineman, was not a surprise. Former App State player and head coach Scott Satterfield, now the head coach at Cincinnati, also chose Combs as his favorite musical artist.

Combs was born in Huntersville, N.C., near Charlotte, and raised mostly in Asheville before heading to Boone for his college years. While an App State student, he also performed very early versions of his music at a nearby bar, where he otherwise served as a bouncer.

In a 2021 Instagram post, Combs shared his appreciation for App State and Boone after performing a concert at the Mountaineers’ Kidd-Brewer Stadium: “This show was a long time in the making for me. I attended college at Appalachian State University. I taught myself to play guitar 10 years ago in Boone, NC. I wrote the first song that I ever wrote here. And on September 4, 2021, I played my first stadium show in that same town. It’s hard to believe. Thank you, Boone, NC! I will never forget this day as long as I live.”

When App State hosted ESPN’s nationally televised College GameDay extravaganza for the first time, in 2022, Combs traveled to Boone and served as the popular morning show’s guest prognosticator.

Similarly, it came as no surprise when Brown voted for Church, a North Carolina native (born in Granite Falls, South Caldwell High School, App State graduate, etc.) and life-long UNC fan Brown has known personally for seven years. After his coaching tenure at Texas, Brown helped create an annual golf-entertainment charitable event in the Austin area, and Church was among the performers there in 2016, when the pair started their friendship.

Earlier this month, Church performed an acoustic concert at UNC’s Memorial Hall as a fundraiser for the “Heels4Life” name-image-likeness organization. During that event, for which the top tier of tickets sold for $1,500 each, Brown joined Church and ESPN’s Marty Smith on stage to talk about the Carolina football program.

Famously (or infamously), when Church’s beloved Tar Heels advanced to the 2022 Final Four for a first-of-its-kind matchup against archrival Duke, he canceled a concert scheduled for San Antonio (after significant controversy, he later executed a September makeup date) so he could attend the basketball game in New Orleans.

“To me, the championship was against Duke — because of the rivalry, because of what that is, because they’ve never met in the tournament, the Final Four, and Coach K’s final game,” Church later told Rob Stone and Holly Hutton of Audacy. “All those things were a perfect storm that I never could’ve conceptualized would’ve happened.

“It hadn’t happened in my life, or my dad’s life. It was one of those really unique, once-in-a-lifetime things. To win that, it was a wild week or two. It was just something I had to be there and had to take my boys. … I can’t recreate Duke and Carolina (in the) Final Four.”

Among the 132 head coaches who voted (only Colorado’s Deion Sanders declined to participate) in The Action Network’s survey, the leading vote-getters were George Strait (eight votes), Church (six) and Combs (six).

Among long-time DG Show “bump music” favorites, Springsteen (five), AC/DC (four), Buffett (three) and Marley (three) also received multiple votes from the panel of coaches and (counting ties) finished among the top seven vote-getters.

Click here to see McMurphy’s entire list.