Feb. 21, 2005
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH -- Steve Dunlap's knowledge of N.C. State football goes back to 1975, when he played linebacker for West Virginia against the Wolfpack - led by the Buckey brothers, Dave and Don, and coached by Lou Holtz - in the Peach Bowl. That was Bobby Bowden's last game with the Mountaineers before leaving for Florida State.
Dunlap grew up in Hurricane, W.Va., about a mile and a half from former Wolfpack assistant Doc Holliday. The two life-long friends were teammates at West Virginia and Holliday was the best man at Dunlap's wedding.
After spending 17 years as a coach at West Virginia, including 10 seasons as defensive coordinator, under Don Nehlen, Dunlap spent the last four years at Syracuse as the defensive coordinator.
Monday, Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato named Dunlap the Wolfpack's defensive coordinator. He will inherit the nation's top-ranked defense.
GOPACK: So how much do you know about NC State?
Dunlap: Believe it or not, I go back to 1975 and the Peach Bowl, when they had the Buckey brothers and Lou Holtz was the coach. I was playing for Coach Bowden at West Virginia. We won that game, then he left to go to Florida State. Tommy [Bowden, now the head coach at Clemson] was in the same class as I was at West Virginia and Terry was two years behind me. [Wolfpack assistant coach Greg] Williams was the secondary coach there then. Curt Cignetti's father, Frank, he hired me to be the graduate assistant at West Virginia. And Doc Holliday and I grew up together in West Virginia.
GOPACK: How about with Coach Amato?
DUNLAP When he was coaching at Florida State, I made several trips down there to observe what they were doing. So I have known him for a while.
GOPACK: So what do you know about what has been happening with the program the last five years?
DUNLAP: What I see is a great commitment to football. All you have to do is look at the [Murphy Center] Complex. It is unbelievable. It takes your breath away when you walk in there. It shows a commitment to do everything first class and to recruit great players. I am obviously very lucky to be coming down there where there are so many great defensive players.
GOPACK: You inherit a defense that was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year. In what ways will you make some changes or do things differently?
DUNLAP: Well, it's hard to get better than No. 1. One thing about me, as people get to know me, is that this is not about me. Look at the staff. Greg Williams has been a coordinator for a long, long, long time. I am sure Todd Stroud could be a coordinator. And Manny Diaz is a very bright and articulate young coach. So I am not going to change things around. Things are going to stay the same. I am sure I have my little quirks and stuff, but that is not what it is all about. We are going to run the same system. I can't see changing much at all.
GOPACK: Tell me a little bit about yourself and some of the things you like to do away from football.
DUNLAP: My wife is Wendy, we met at West Virginia. We have two children, a 19-year-old son, Matt, and a 15-year-old daughter Megan. Matt is a freshman at West Virginia and Megan is in the ninth grade. As far as what I like to do, well, all you need to know is that I have a 19-foot bass boat. That's what I like to do. I love to fish.
GOPACK: So what is the biggest bass you have ever caught?
DUNLAP: The biggest smallmouth bass I ever caught was six pounds, six ounces. I caught it in Lake Erie. I don't know what the biggest largemouth bass I ever caught was. I used to fish a lot down in Lake Ocachobee in Florida, and I could never catch anything down there.
GOPACK: So do you have that smallmouth on the wall somewhere?
DUNLAP: No, I couldn't do it. I released it. I have a great picture of it though. I always said I wanted to put a 10-pound largemouth on the wall and a five-pound smallmouth, but when it came time to do it, I just couldn't it.
GOPACK: What do you know about Raleigh?
DUNLAP: I know it is a great place to live. I know the schools are good. I know the weather is good. That's all I need to hear. I am looking out my window right now, and there is about a foot of snow out there. We are supposed to get three more inches today, and five more tomorrow. There are only about 60 days of sunshine a year up here in Syracuse.
You can contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.
Dunlap has been at Syracuse the last four years