2 more assistants join Rocket staff


Two guys named Dirt and Dino are the newest members of the University of Toledo's football coaching staff.

Dennis “Dirt” Winston, an 11-year NFL veteran who earned two Super Bowl rings as an outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was hired as UT's linebackers coach yesterday.

Dino Dawson, a Bowling Green State University assistant the last seven seasons, has been hired to coach the wide receivers.

First-year UT coach Tom Amstutz now has five assistants on board, with four positions yet to fill.

Winston and Dawson will be paid $45,000 each, according to athletic director Pete Liske.

“I'm really excited to be here,” Winston said. “I'm with a good staff and a darn good head coach.”

Amstutz's previous hires included offensive coordinator/assistant head coach Rob Spence ($100,000), defensive coordinator Lou West ($90,000), and defensive assistant Dave Walkosky ($34,000), who likely will coach the outside linebackers.

Winston was dubbed Dirt by Bruce Mitchell, his good friend and college teammate at Arkansas, who later died of leukemia. The nickname has stuck with Winston for more than 25 years.

“Brad Thomas and I hit this guy from Texas A&M and ran him right through the fence on the sideline after tackling him,” Winston said. “At first, Bruce called me `Dirty Dennis.' Then he just shortened it to Dirt.”

Winston, 45, recently completed his first season at Division II Kentucky State, where he was defensive coordinator and linebackers coach. He also has coached at Arkansas (1997-98), Grambling (1992-94 and 1995-97), Norfolk State (1994-95), Arkansas State (1989-92), Slippery Rock (1998-99) and Grove City (1987-88).

Winston, named to the all-century team as a player at Arkansas in 1994, played in the NFL from 1977 to 1987.

A fourth-round draft pick of the Steelers, Winston backed up Hall-of-Famer Jack Ham at outside linebacker for Pittsburgh's famed Steel Curtain defense in Super Bowl XIII against the Dallas Cowboys in January, 1979. Winston started in Super Bowl XIV against the Los Angeles Rams a year later. Pittsburgh defeated the Cowboys 35-31 and the Rams 31-19.

Winston was traded to the New Orleans Saints after the 1982 season, and played three seasons there, before returning to Pittsburgh in 1985, where he finished his career.

During his playing days in Pittsburgh, Winston played for Hall-of-Fame coach Chuck Noll and worked for four different defensive coordinators -- Bud Carson, George Perles, Woody Widenhofer and Tony Dungy.

Winston thinks the players on UT's defense can be just as aggressive as he and the Steelers' defenders were in their heyday.

“I think we have some guys here who can play like that,” he said. “From looking at film of them, they're pretty good defensively. They are very physical, they get after you. We want to continue to do that.

“I'll be teaching them pretty much what I was taught at Pittsburgh, as far as proper techniques, proper position, how to step, how to slide and how to stay square, “ Winston said. “We just don't want them developing any bad habits.”

Dawson, 35, was the passing coordinator and receivers coach this past season under former BG coach Gary Blackney. Dawson also worked with the Falcon receivers from 1996-99 and the running backs (1994-95), and coached three All-Mid-American Conference players - tailback Keylon Cates and receivers Damron Hamilton and Kurt Gerling.

Dawson played at Ohio State from 1984-86 before transferring to Kent State, where he played for then head coach Glen Mason in 1988.

After graduating from Wayne State in 1991, Dawson joined that school's coaching staff as wide receivers coach for one season. He moved on to Illinois State in 1993 as coach of the running backs and secondary, before joining Blackney's BG staff.

UT linebacker Kevin Rollins will be participating in tomorrow night's 55th annual Hula Bowl in Hawaii.

Rollins, 6-2, 225, is one of 100 college seniors who will be trying to impress the NFL scouts.

Rollins was a two-time, second-team All-Mid American-Conference, and was a candidate for the Butkus Award this past season. He finished his career with 300 tackles, 25 sacks, and 41 tackles for loss.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer agreed to a new contract worth $9.1 million over seven years.

Fulmer, who guided the Volunteers to the 1998 national championship, was given a $250,000 raise, boosting his annual pay to $1.3 million, and a two-year extension through 2007.

The Vols were 8-4 this past season and out of the final Associated Press Top 25 for the first time since 1988.