Bunn stays, which is what he wanted all along

Kyle Bunn, the Ole Miss pitching coach, had a chance to leave for Louisville with new Cardinals' head coach Dan McDonnell. But after an opportunity to move up arrived in Oxford, he chose to stay put. We've already presented stories on assistants Rob Reinstetle (July 1) and Carl Lafferty (July 7). Today, Bunn's story.

Kyle Bunn almost left Oxford for Louisville. It wasn't his first choice. He wanted to stay.

But he had to look at things from a professional standpoint. That's why he decided to follow Dan McDonnell to the Big East school.

Then Stuart Lake decided to go back home to pursue opportunities in his home area, which is the state of South Carolina. For Bunn, a new door had opened.

It was an opportunity that on Monday, June 26, when word began to leak about McDonnell leaving for the U of L, wasn't on the radar screen. Some two to three days later, Lake said he was leaving and Bunn then had a decision to make.

He could either stay at Ole Miss, a place he's been for five years, in a fulltime position for the first time. Or he could leave and move to Louisville and a fulltime position under McDonnell.

All things considered, no brainer. Bunn wanted to stay.

"When Coach (Mike) Bianco said to me that there might be an opportunity for me to move up here, he asked me if I wanted to stay," said Bunn, a South Carolina native. "Without pause I said ‘yes' and that was it."

Bunn, who came to Ole Miss in the second year of the Bianco era, hated to say no to his longtime friend and mentor, McDonnell. But everyone had choices to make, and this was Bunn's.

"There were several reasons to stay," said Bunn, who was recruited out of high school by McDonnell and also played under him when he was a pitcher at The Citadel and McDonnell was an assistant coach at his alma mater. "In this profession you have to be happy where you live, and I am. I love Oxford. I grew up in a small town. You also have to be able to live within your means and keep your head above water. I can do that here. And you have to appreciate and be in step with the goals and visions of the head coach. Mike and I share the same goals and visions for this program."

Not that he didn't share those same goals with McDonnell. It was just that this program is already at a level that Louisville can only dream about at this point. It's in the Southeastern Conference, which is another reason Bunn stayed.

"This is my dream job," he said. "To be a pitching coach in the SEC, there's just no doubt that's what I've wanted to do. And now I have the opportunity to do it on a fulltime basis."

Back to the keeping his head above water comment. Bunn will obviously be better able to do that now since he is fulltime. In the past five years, he's worked with the Rebel pitchers while being labled as the "volunteer" coach. It's an officially unpaid position, and most of Bunn's income came from camps and other sources as allowed by rule.

Now the "volunteer" coach role goes to former Rebel catcher, team captain, and last year's administrative assistant Carl Lafferty. Bunn can now actually get paid.

"But it's not about the money," Bunn said. "If it had been, I'd have done something else before now. But I stuck it out and now it's paid off."

Bunn will likely continue to work with the Rebel pitchers, and he will also work a great deal on scouting reports of the opposing teams. He will also get to recruit for the Rebel program off-campus, something he could not do as the volunteer coach.

"I'm already enjoying being on the road recruiting," said Bunn, who before could only talk to prospects by phone or while they were on campus. "It's great to be out there talking about Ole Miss and the baseball program here."

Bunn joins Lafferty and newcomer Rob Reinstetle as assistants. He and Reinstetle will be on the road recruiting. Bunn likes the makeup of the staff.

"Carl was Coach Bianco's first catcher and team captain (in 2001). Rob's 30 years old and out there working as hard as he can recruiting. And I'm the same place I've been for five years and right where I want to be, doing what I want to do. I think this is a great situation for all of us."

And since he's been here five years already, Bunn feels he's right at home.

"I'm all red and blue now," he said. "I have some of the greatest friends here. Some of the Ole Miss alums and even some former football players and others are some of the best friends I've got. The last five years have been great, and I'm more excited than ever about the situation I'm in here now. It's all worked out well for me."

And quite nicely, too, for Ole Miss baseball.

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