Ravens' Pees still passionate about coaching (4-19-13)
Written by Jordan Cravens Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 20 April 2013 00:55
JERRY CITY — Dean Pees was very content to be the head football coach at Elmwood High School forever.
|Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator Dean Pees (right) is introduced to Tracy McGrain by her husband, Bill McGrain, during a fundraising dinner Friday night at Elmwood High School. Pees is a former head football coach at Elmwood. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
But his career took him much farther. The former Elmwood coach and Bowling Green State University graduate worked his way up the ranks to the NFL where he has helped two teams win three Super Bowls, including this year as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens.
Pees returned to his old stomping grounds at Elmwood on Friday as part of a fundraiser dinner to benefit the school’s stadium project.
The Hardin County native said while coaching the Royals in the 1970s, it never crossed his mind he would one day break into the pros.
“I had no idea. I always wanted to be a high school football coach. It’s what I aspired to be. I had no thought of even being a college coach. I was very content here,” said Pees during an interview with local media on Friday.
It was during his eighth-grade year, quarterbacking for his team, he realized coaching was his calling.
“I actually got the coach’s permission to change a couple of things out there in the huddle and we ended up winning,” he said.
His first opportunity to coach came as an assistant at Elmwood in 1973. He later became head coach.
“It was a lot of fun to build that program and get it going. It was even more fun when we started winning.”
He moved on to the University of Findlay in 1979 as the defensive coordinator/secondary coach. The Oilers won an NAIA Division II national championship in 1979.
Pees also coached at Miami of Ohio, Navy, Toledo, Notre Dame, Michigan State and Kent State before accepting a position with the NFL’s New England Patriots in 2004. He joined the Ravens’ staff in 2010 as linebackers coach and was later promoted to defensive coordinator.
While there are certainly differences between coaching high school, college and professional football, Pees said having a passion for what you do is a constant.
“I’ve spent 41 years in football and I still love to go to work everyday,” he said. “When you like what you do, it shows.”
“I approach it the same “I approach it the same way I did here (Elmwood) as I do there (Baltimore),” he said. “It doesn’t matter if you are playing in a 100,000-seat stadium or out here in a 5,000-seat stadium, you just concentrate on the game and the players and what you are doing.”
Some would assume Pees’ most memorable coaching moment was winning one of his three Super Bowls.
But, in fact, his most memorable moment came while coaching Kent State.
It was the final play of the 2002 season. The Golden Flashes were playing Miami of Ohio at home.
“Kent State has not beaten Miami of Ohio in who knows how long, hadn’t had a winning season in 20 years. We are 5-5.”
Fourth down. Ball on the 20-yard-line. 20 seconds to go.
“I switched James Harrison from one side of the defense to the other side of the defense and he sacks (Ben) Roethlisberger on the last play to give us our first winning record in 20 years.”
“They had a Kent State Football Day after that, the mayor decreed. We were 6-5,” he said.
While winning a Super Bowl is certainly an accolade, but from a coach’s perspective, Pees said, the victory is a sense of relief.
“It’s a culmination of an incredible amount of work and time ... You are going seven days a week, non-stop.”
At this year’s Super Bowl, he had his six children, their spouses and seven grandchildren on the field when the confetti showered the stadium.
“That’s the stuff I remember even more than winning the game, although the fourth-down play, I do remember.”
On that final play at the goal line, Pees called a successful blitz which forced San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick to throw an incomplete pass in desperation. The Ravens won 34-31.
Last Updated on Saturday, 20 April 2013 18:01