Born to be a ‘Cane: Gary Dunn Talks Miami Football Past, Present and Future
Last fall as I sat listening to the late University of Miami Ring of Honor inductee Eddie Dunn’s introduction and his son’s acceptance speech, things started clicking (and y’all know I’m blonde so be impressed, ok?) about his family’s history. I remember when joining Kappa Kappa Gamma at the University of Miami I quickly learned that one of our founding sisters was Dorothy Ashe, daughter of one of the founders of UM and the first President of the University, Bowman Foster Ashe, and her husband and sons played football at the _. After the conclusion of the luncheon, I approached the man who accepted the honor on behalf of his late father and told him how touching his speech was and about learning about his mother so many years ago. Gary Dunn shook my hand, took a photo with me and signed footballs for the Palm Beach ‘Canes Club’s game watch raffles, and I marveled at how I just met someone who is UM. Really, you just don’t get more UM than the Dunn family.
Aside from the fact that his grandfather helped found our beloved alma mater, Gary’s father Eddie played running back for the ‘Canes from 1935-39, scoring all three touchdowns to defeat the hated Floriduh Crocs in the first-ever matchup between the ‘Canes and those felons in Jortsville, and later went on to coach both the football and baseball teams. Bowman, Dorothy and Eddie instilled their love for the ‘Canes in the next generation, thus Gary and his siblings, Bowman and Linda (who is also a Kappa, and may I say, fabulous!) attended the University of Miami where Bowman and Gary played football. Gary’s impressive history with the ‘Canes, and later his instrumentality in capturing 2 Super Bowl rings with the Steelers, is best summed up in his Hall of Fame induction video, below:
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to speak with Gary again and discuss his legacy with the ‘Canes and his thoughts on the future of our program:
- On what it was like growing up in his family: Obviously, growing up in Coral Gables, the Dunns were a sports family and since Gary can remember, everyone knew his dad, and he felt a strong connection to the University of Miami. As soon as he could walk, he was in the locker room, on the practice field, and at the Orange Bowl. As far as Gary was concerned, the University of Miami was the only university that existed.
- Starting his career at UM: When Gary was a senior in high school, he witnessed the “Florida Flop” and was appalled. The next year when he joined the team (his brother Bo was a senior at the time), was during a turbulent era for the ‘Canes where Gary had 3 different coaches while he was at UM. During that time UM produced 6-7 NFL draftees annually, but despite the talent it wasn’t a steady program. Guys were not playing together like a team. Although they played teams like Oklahoma and Nebraska tough, with the coaching and position changes, it was hard for guys to put it all together. Gary counts himself as fortunate that during these turbulent times, he had the consistency of his DL coach Harold Allen to foster his development.
- Gary’s favorite memories at UM: running through the tunnel on the field at the Orange Bowl for the first time; as well as knocking off #1 Texas.
- On the Randy Shannon Era: Gary commented on the frustration almost every ‘Canes fan has felt over the past few years when he stated “[T]hey were all over the place. You think they are going to roll and then they go south.” Gary believes lately the ‘Canes have simply been missing all the components necessary to win championships, which he described as “great players, great coaching, city support, and school support.” The most upsetting thing to Gary was the lack of effort he saw sometimes, where the defense was not pursuing a running back (we share a common post traumatic stress disorder over what was the 2008 debacle in Atlanta against Georgia Tech) and failure to adjust to their own weaknesses during a game.
- On Coach Golden: Gary will meet Coach Golden on Friday so he can’t comment on him personally but he has heard great things about him from Jimmy Johnson, Don Soldinger, as well as Art Kehoe. Gary thinks Golden is a great hire and has made some great hires himself, specifically, bringing back Art Kehoe.
- What Gary Dunn wants to see from the 2011 Defensive Line: Ultimately, Gary told me you don’t win championships without a a dominant defensive line. This year he wants to see aggressiveness, the guys getting after the passer, and avoiding “demoralizing” situations like 2008 GA Tech and 2010 FSU where they ran all over us.
Eye of the Hurricane thanks Gary Dunn for taking the time to interview and share his thoughts on UM football past, present, and future. GO ‘CANES!!!