I remember the summer of 1992, SEC Media Days. I was covering the event for The Meridian Star, and Billy Brewer had done what head coaches sometimes do after a losing season. He’d hired new coordinators.
The Rebels were coming off a 5-6 season in 1991, and Brewer had hired Larry Beckish for offense, Joe Lee Dunn for defense. Brewer stood at the podium that year, at the downtown Sheraton in Birmingham, and talked about both of them. He told us about a book Beckish had written on the trap option and on Dunn’s unique personality, including the time he’d arrive at the office each day.
I remember writing that in an effort to turn things around, Brewer had hired an author and a maniac.
The Rebels did in fact turn things around in 1992, as the Brewer tenure began to wind down. Ole Miss went 8-3, then won the Liberty Bowl as Dunn’s defense pitched its second shutout of the year, 13-0 against Air Force.
Four other times that season the Rebels held opponents to 10 points or below. One of those times was the Egg Bowl in Oxford. Mississippi State had what seemed like 39 chances to score from inside the 10 that day but was unable to get in the end zone, and the Rebels held on to win 17-10. That was a very cold day in Oxford, and I was covering as the MSU beat writer.
The Liberty Bowl that followed was the last bowl game Brewer would coach for Ole Miss. The Rebels went 6-5 in 1993, and he was fired amid the NCAA stuff.
Dunn was named interim coach for the 1994 season.
Dunn had replaced Robert Henry, a Corinth native, as defensive coordinator. Henry’s name came up this week as I was working on our football guide and doing a feature on West Alabama coach Will Hall, who was a high school star at Amory before following his father, Bobby Hall, into the business.
Henry is beginning his third season as Hall’s defensive coordinator.
Dunn is beginning his fourth season as defensive coordinator for former Kentucky coach Hal Mumme at Division III McMurry.