A higher connection

In NFL coaching, it's always been a case of who you know rather than what you know. It's common for NFL assistant coaches to get their job through a past connection to their new head coach or someone on the staff. New Bears defensive line coach Karl Dunbar, however, admits he's the exception to the rule.<p>

Asked about his connection to the new Lovie Smith coaching regime, Dunbar laughs and says, "God. Through the grace of God. I talk to people about it all the time.

"I really didn't know a person on the staff. I was always told that if you work hard where you're at, people notice you. I was working hard and doing the things I was coached to do and taught to do. When the opportunity presented itself, I took advantage of it."

Although Dunbar has been in coaching since 1996, the former New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steeler defensive lineman did enough with the talent he had for one season at Oklahoma State on the defensive line and three seasons as strength coach for his alma mater, LSU, that Smith did notice.

"I put out a couple guys who can play, namely (Oklahoma State's) Kevin Williams, who was the ninth pick with the Minnesota Vikings (2003). If I can get the guys around here to play as well based upon some of the things I've done in the past, we'll be fine."

Dunbar sees that as a real possibility because of the talent level he inherits.

"It's great. I'm not going to downplay that we have some talent," he said. "I think we have 15 defensive linemen right now. With the addition of Tommie Harris and Tank Johnson to B-Rob (Bryan Robinson) and (Alfonso) Boone, and Alex (Brown) and Mike (Haynes), people tell me that if I don't mess things up we'll be fine.

"Seriously, they're really looking good and they fit this system well. They've lost so much weight they should be in shape top play 60 minutes or more. If you watch the film from last year and then look at the guys this year, the difference is obvious."

Dunbar credits his love of the game for getting him into coaching in the beginning, but that quality received a boost.

"The guy who really helped get me into it was Pete Jenkins," Dunbar said. "He was my defensive line coach at LSU. He taught me everything that I'm trying to teach these guys. Things that I couldn't do better as a player, I can do better as a coach."

Although he played in 1992-93 for the Saints and later in 1994-95 for the Arizona Cardinals, Dunbar found it was at LSU where fans made football most fun.

"They're fanatics. Everybody in Louisiana is," he said. "They had a great time last year (winning the national title).

"When I was playing for LSU my junior year we tied Ohio State. It was like kissing your sister with a tie, but I blocked a field goal on the last play of the game to keep us from losing. When I went back there more than 10 years later, everybody still remembered it and reminded me of it. Football is king in Louisiana."

A one-year stint on the defensive line at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La. after two years coaching high school ball in the state when he started his career had already made that much apparent to Dunbar.

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