Newest coach is where he wants to be

Kasey Dunn had a strange year, full of ups and downs. He coached in a Rose Bowl and was then out of work. He had a chance to coach at one of the most prestigious programs in the nation, but wound up unemployed for several months. Things worked out in the end, and Dunn is where he always wanted to be.

Dunn comes to Arizona after serving the past few months as the interim defensive backs coach at TCU. Although his experience with the Horned Frogs was a good one, coaching in Fort Worth was not what he had in mind. Dunn was supposed to be coaching at Alabama with Mike Price, but was let go when Price was fired for some indiscretions at a Florida strip club.

Dunn was out of work until TCU called and hired him to replace suspended coach Willie Mack Garza. Dunn coached with TCU head coach Gary Patterson and New Mexico and was brought in to help when Garza was faced with legal problems stemming from a DWI incident.

When Mike Price landed at UTEP last month many expected Dunn to follow his former coach to El Paso, but he chose to work for the Wildcats instead.

"I talk to Mike all the time, Mike and I are good friends, but this is a place that I've always wanted to be," Dunn confessed. "I told Mike Price that. He's heard that from me a million times."

Dunn sees a ton of potential for the Wildcat program and points toward a number of factors that make Tucson a desirable place to coach.

"There's just something about (Tucson)," Dunn said. "The weather, the combination of athletics and small town feel. You're not in the middle of a big city, yet it is big enough to attract national recruits. I always thought this was a real good situation and a place to be able to win a national championship, but not be in the middle of L.A."

In fact his ties to L.A. are a key reason that Dunn is a desirable candidate. Dunn recruited Southern California for most of his career, especially his time in Pullman. He pulled a number of good players out of that hotbed but thinks he can do even better at Arizona.

"I enjoyed my time at Washington State, but if I am recruiting the Los Angeles area I don't think there is any doubt you have an advantage of recruiting here instead of a 24 hour drive to Pullman," Dunn explained. "The weather is more conducive to them. I am enjoying it about getting started in recruiting."

Of course his new head coach is important as well. After working with guys like Price, Patterson and Dennis Francione, it is encouraging for Wildcat fans to hear his high praise for Stoops.

"I think it is fantastic," Dunn said. "The guy has a lot of drive and determination and this is a program that is defiantly saying ‘right now we are going to do whatever it takes to win.' I think this is the right time to be here under the right guy."

2003 was a wild year for Dunn. He coached in the Rose Bowl with the Cougars before moving on to Alabama. After his dismissal there he had an internship with the Seattle Seahawks where he got to work with their receivers in the preseason. Mike Holmgren invited him to remain with the staff until he found work, but the NFL does not allow volunteers or interns on the field in the regular season.

Dunn moved back to Alabama and planned on waiting until the end of the season to find a new job when the opportunity at TCU emerged. Despite being out of work for part of the season Dunn was actually a finalist for the head coaching job at Idaho.

"(I had) two interviews, came down to the last couple of guys," Dunn said. "I know I interviewed the last day that they did interviews. Great experience. Speaking off the top of my head, had I been at Alabama still as opposed to TCU that might have made a difference, having the assistant head coach title instead of interim defensive backs coach."

The Cats are still finalizing their staff, so all of the roles have not been filled. As of now Dunn is slated to coach the running backs. He does not know who the offensive coordinator will be, but he does know the offense they'd like to run. Although Arizona will be a passing team, he recognizes the value of the run.

"Right now my understanding is we'll see a one-back system and a spread offense," Dunn said. "We still need to get answers there. That kind of offense has always been pass to set up the run, but the best offenses we had at Washington State were when it was balanced if not being able to establish the run. When you start loading up the box you can do a lot of things. If you can get people to try and stop the run then you can."


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