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By LARRY VAUGHT
Veteran coach Dom Dunn, a Louisville native, is thrilled to be back on the field coaching defensive tackles at Western Kentucky after spending the three previous seasons as the director of high school relations at Texas Tech for a staff that included current Kentucky coaches Neal Brown, Chad Scott and Tommy Mainord. He has 37 years of coaching experience at the collegiate level, including 10 years at Auburn. Dunn was at the Kentucky High School Coaches Association Clinic at Centre College Saturday and shared his thoughts on Western, UK football, Brown, Scott and even Jacob Tamme.
Question: What has it been like working for Bobby Petrino and how anxious were you to get back on the field after three seasons as director of high school relations at Texas Tech?
Dunn: “I am very fortunate, very thankful. I coached for all those years and things just didn’t work out and I had to go into the administration part of it, which I learned a lot from the other side. When Bobby gave me this opportunity, it was just like a breath of fresh air. I really believe and know for a fact I am working for the best head coach in college football. He doesn’t miss a thing. He has made me a better coach again. Bringing out the best in meet since I have been with him since February.”
Question: What is your sense about what the win over Kentucky last year meant to the Western football program?
Dunn: “I am sure it was a great day for Western Kentucky and their fans and their players. But I didn’t have anything to do with it. None of us (coaches) were there. We have not talked about it. We won’t talk about it. You can’t worry about what happened yesterday. If I was a Western Kentucky fan, that would be a great day.”
Question: Since you will know half the Kentucky staff almost, what will that opening game be like for you trying to slow down the Neal Brown offense?
Dunn: “It is going to be a challenge. He does a great job. Their staff does a great job. Plus, we are starting all over basically on the defensive line. We lost some good players. Like every game, got to take one game at a time. We don’t look at Kentucky or Tennessee or anybody. We are just Team X that we have next.”
Question: What impresses you the most about Neal on and off the field?
Dunn: “Great guy. Great family guy. I got to know Neal a little bit at Troy and knew about him because I was at Auburn so long. I met Neal a few times and heard great things about him and then was fortunate enough to work for him for three years at Texas Tech. Love his family. His kids. His dad is a great man. I talk to his dad more than Neal. Trying to help him out where Neal’s sister is trying to get a job at another school. Great kid, great young coach. Energetic. Works hard in recruiting. Works the kids hard. I see Neal in five years being one of those big-time head coaches.”
Question: Even though he wouldn’t yet be 40 years old?
Dunn: “Don’t tell me that. Like I said, I got shoes older than Neal.”
Question: What kind of young coach is Chad Scott and what makes him such a good recruiter?
Dunn: “Chad is Chad. He is honest and he knows the game. He doesn’t put up a lot of BS. He gets to know the kids and families. His personality. Just a great guy. I love them all. They are all good people. He’s a good coach on the field, too. He is hard nosed, get after it, technician, studies the game. All those guys, including coach Mainord, have nothing but a great future ahead of them. But ask coach Mainord about his cooking. He can’t cook a brisket. He’s a good coach, and a great young coach. I hope these guys realize what a great opportunity they have. It can end in a hurry. You can be at the top of the world and then be at the bottom, but I see nothing but bright futures for these three guys.”
Question: Are they always enthusiastic like they showed during their first spring practice at UK?
Dunn: “Yes. That is what it is. You can’t ask your kids to go hard and work if you don’t have energy, enthusiasm and tempo. They all three have that and will continue to have that. That is what it takes.”
Question: Since you have coached in the SEC, how will Brown’s offense work in the SEC?
Dunn: “I think so. But what succeeds are players. My grandpa always told me no donkey won the Kentucky Derby. You have got to have athletes. If you get athletes and good football players, they can run any offense or defense. It is unique offense and will put pressure on the defense. When they get their type of people there, I see that offense being very successful.”