Dunigan refuses to hold a grudge

IAN BUSBY -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:49 PM ET

After being fired by the Calgary Stampeders, Matt Dunigan spent the next few months keeping his mouth shut, hardly speaking to anyone outside his immediate family.

"I didn't talk to anybody, basically since November," Dunigan admitted yesterday.

Now he's back, preparing to address a nation.

Dunigan, who was released from his role as GM/head coach in January, returned to his old position yesterday as a CFL analyst for TSN.

Last year was a tumultuous one for Dunigan and his family. He became the Stamps GM/head coach despite virtually no experience in either job, moved his family from Georgia, then suffered through a 4-14 season during which many people doubted his ability.

But once it became clear there would be a Stampeders ownership change and his days at McMahon Stadium were numbered, Dunigan decided to take the high road.

Not once in the four months after getting fired did he spout off to the media. He still won't badmouth the organization which gave him his only head-coaching job.

"When I got let go, I chose to not say anything," he said. "I didn't want to get caught up in the same redundant scenarios that happen when people get released and fired.

"I didn't have much to say so I kept my mouth shut. I've been spending a lot of time with my family, enjoying Calgary.

"I've enjoyed the off-season and seeing how things have unfolded in the CFL the way they have. It's going to be a tremendous season.

"I'm certainly a fan of the Calgary Stampeders and I'm in tune with what's happening there. I'm excited for them ... I'm glad to see the new guys spending the money on the product on the field."

Last season, TSN didn't replace Dunigan on the football panel, which includes fellow analysts Jock Climie and Chris Schultz and host Dave Randorf. Guests were brought in from time to time to fill Dunigan's chair.

But the network decided to make the panel a foursome again this season and Dunigan said TSN contacted him before he was fired to gauge his interest.

After a stressful year on the Stampeders' sidelines, Dunigan said he didn't bother to pursue another CFL coaching position.

Instead, he negotiated a long-term deal with TSN, signed yesterday. Dunigan and his family will remain in Calgary. Just like he did from 1999-2003, Dunigan will commute to Toronto for up to three days of studio work each week.

As the Stamps struggled on the field in 2004, Dunigan took plenty of criticism. Now that he's the one dishing it out, he will think twice about ripping someone.

"It will give me a different perspective. I will be the same type of analyst, as I always tried to err on the side of positive," he said.

"You understand what people are going through out there.

"My understanding will be a bit keener this time around. I will have a broader perspective."

Dunigan said he, his wife and three children fell in love with Calgary when they moved to Canada from Georgia. In fact, Matt is coaching his son Dolan's baseball team, including a game last night.

So the Dunigans are fully entrenched in the community and don't want to leave. "We love Calgary, it's as simple as that," Dunigan said.

"It's been a great move for the family, in spite of how things unfolded during the last year. What happened last season doesn't affect what I am and who I am. I'm a big CFL fan and a Stampeder supporter.

"The family has enjoyed our time here and we'll continue to live here."

Dunigan made some savvy moves during his short tenure with the Stamps.

He traded for the West Division's defensive player of the year, John Grace, and helped develop top rookie receiver Nik Lewis.

But that's not his proudest feat.

"They never quit on me," Dunigan said of the 2004 Stampeders.

"We went through some tough times. We lost some games we shouldn't have.

"But I really think their attitude will meld them this year and with the pieces they're putting into place, they will have a great year.

"I don't hold any grudges. I think they will have a fantastic year."

And he'll get to talk all about it.


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