New Mexico State head football coach Hal Mumme announced Monday that NMSU has hired veteran defensive master mind Joe Lee Dunn as the Aggies’ new Defensive Coordinator effective December 15th 2007.
“I’m exciting and thrilled to work with Hal Mumme and be a part of New Mexico State football as the defensive coordinator,” Dunn said. “I feel we have a great chance at being a very good football team and to make a bowl game. I’m extremely excited to be back in college football and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”
“I’m excited about having Joe Lee Dunn as our new defensive coordinator,” Mumme said. “I wanted to stay with an odd defense and because of our personnel I thought the 3-5 would be a good fit and who better to put that in but the guy (Joe Lee Dunn) who invented it.
With over 30 years of coaching experience Dunn brings a high pressured defense to the Aggies that will give opposing teams fits.
Dunn has spent the last year as the head coach at Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tennessee. In 2007, Dunn guided Ridgeway to a 5-5 overall record and a spot in the first round of the Tennessee High School playoffs.
Dunn, who served as defensive coordinator for the University of Memphis football team from 1989-91, returned to the Tigers in the same capacity in the spring of 2003. He was hired by Tommy West to take over and reconstruct the Tiger defense, and lived up to the task, moving the Memphis defense from near the bottom of the NCAA rankings to a top 10 finish in 2003.
Memphis, which was ranked 101st in the nation in rushing defense and 57th overall in 2002, climbed to 18th in rushing defense, 19th in pass defense and ninth in total defense in 2003 under Dunn’s guidance. Memphis also ranked second in Conference USA in scoring defense, second in rush defense, third in pass defense and first in total defense, allowing just 295.8 yards per game. Five members of Dunn's defensive unit received All-Conference USA honors in 2003, including free safety Wesley Smith who was named to the first team.
In 2004, the Tiger defensive unit ranked fourth in Conference USA in rushing defense and seventh in total defense. Several individuals ranked in the top 10 in the league, including Dustin Lopez who ranked third in interceptions and third in passes defended; Tim Goodwell who was eighth in tackles and led the league in fumbles recovered; and Quinton McCrary and Marcus West who were ninth and 10th in sacks, respectively. Four members of the Tiger defense received All-Conference USA honors in 2004, as Wesley Smith was a first-team pick, and Marcus West and Albert Means were selected to the second team. Linebacker Greg Hinds was named to the C-USA All-Freshman squad.
The 2005 squad suffered through a myriad of injuries, but still managed to lead C-USA and ranked 27th nationally in rushing defense, and was 36th in the country in scoring defense. Safety Wesley Smith was named a first-team pick on the All-C-USA team for the third-straight season and defensive lineman Marcus West also landed on the first team.
Dunn came to Memphis after having served as the defensive coordinator at Mississippi State University from 1996 through 2002. For seven seasons, Dunn directed a Bulldog defense that was consistently ranked among the nation's elite. During the 2001 season, the Bulldog defense held three opponents to 21 points or less, and his 2000 MSU defense was ranked second in the SEC and 13th nationally in rushing defense and scored an amazing eight touchdowns.
The 1999 Bulldog defense led the nation in both rushing and total defense and was fourth in pass efficiency defense. Mississippi State finished sixth in scoring defense and allowed just 222.5 yards per game in total defense. Dunn was a finalist for the Broyles Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top assistant coach.
When Dunn arrived at Mississippi State, the defense ranked near the bottom of the SEC in nearly every defensive category, but his units showed improvements with each passing season. In 1998, State's defensive unit featured the SEC regular-season sack leader in end Edward Smith, who registered 12 quarterback sacks. MSU was the last Division 1-A defense in the nation to allow a touchdown through the air in 1998 and scored five defensive touchdowns throughout the campaign. The defense helped MSU win the Western Division title and gain a berth in the SEC Championship Game. In 1996, Dunn's defense broke the school record for quarterback sacks in a single season with 39.
Prior to his arrival at Mississippi State, Dunn served one year as defensive coordinator at Arkansas, where his Razorback unit finished first in the SEC and fifth nationally against the run. He helped lead Arkansas to the 1995 SEC Western Division title.
Dunn went to Arkansas following three seasons at Ole Miss, the first two as defensive coordinator and the final as interim head coach. While at Ole Miss, he lifted the Rebels' defense among the nation's best. Ole Miss finished sixth, first and 17th nationally in total defense during Dunn's stay.
A native of Columbus, Ga., Dunn arrived at Ole Miss after spending three years retooling the Memphis defense. From 1989 through 1991, Dunn served as a graduate assistant coach for one year and as defensive coordinator for his final two campaigns.
Under Dunn's direction, the Tiger defense put together some pretty impressive statistics in the early 1990s. The 1990 unit, which was competing against teams like Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Florida State and Southern Miss, was ranked amongst the nation's top 50 in rush defense (31st), pass defense (41st), scoring defense (39th) and total defense (45th). While taking on such noted opponents as Southern Cal, Ole Miss, Missouri, Mississippi State, Alabama and Tennessee in 1991, the Tigers were ranked 54th in rush defense, 57th in total defense and 49th in scoring defense.
In 1987 and 1988, Dunn served as defensive coordinator at the University of South Carolina. In 1987, the Gamecocks were one of just three teams to finish among the nation's top five in all major defensive categories.
Immediately prior to entering the SEC, Dunn spent seven years at the University of New Mexico, the last four as the school's head coach. He began his collegiate coaching career with a nine-year stint at his alma mater UT-Chattanooga, an institution which later inducted him into its Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
Dunn, 61, graduated from UT-Chattanooga in 1968 with a degree in Education and Mathematics. He and his wife, Susie, have three children: daughters, Kacey and Ashley, and a son, Joseph Levi Jr.