Wnek Joins Football Staff (4-2-04)
Bloomington, Ind. - Don Wnek is the newest addition to the Indiana football staff, serving as the Hoosiers' Director of Football Operations.
A specialist in pass rush and defensive line techniques, Wnek has over 25 years of college and professional coaching experience and served on Gerry DiNardo's staff with the XFL's Birmingham Thunderbolts as co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach.
"I'm thrilled to be back with Coach DiNardo," Wnek said. "This is a wonderful opportunity and I am very excited to be here because we're on the cusp of winning a lot of games."
Wnek's primary duties will include assisting in administrative aspects of the program, coordinating travel and camps.
His collegiate coaching experience includes stops at Northern Illinois and the University of Nevada. Wnek served at NIU from 1978-81 and at Nevada from 1982-89. During his time at NIU, Wnek coached the outside linebackers and defensive line, serving on Bill Mallory's staff in 1980 and 1981. At Nevada, he coached the defensive line and was the defensive coordinator from 1986-87. In addition to his coaching responsibilities, Wnek was involved in recruiting at the high school level in the San Francisco Bay Area and at the junior college level in Chicago and Iowa.
He was out of football in 1990, but returned to the coaching ranks in 1991, when he coached the San Antonio Riders of the World League (now NFL Europe) during the fall and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League during the spring. He served on both teams' coaching staffs in both 1991 and 1992 before working strictly with Hamilton in 1993 and 1994. Wnek served as the defensive line coach on Mike Riley's coaching staff in San Antonio. In 1995, Wnek moved on to coach the defensive line and linebackers for the CFL's Memphis Mad Dogs.
Wnek served on the Montreal Alouettes' staff in 1996 and 1997, coaching the defensive line in 1996 and the offensive line in 1997 before a one-year stint as defensive coordinator for the British Columbia Lions in 1998. The B.C. defense ranked first in the CFL in takeaways and featured five All-Western Division All-Stars with Wnek at the helm.
He returned to the Alouettes in 1999 to coach the defensive line through 2001 before taking the same post with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in 2002. Montreal won the CFL's Grey Cup in 2000.
A three-year letterwinner at defensive end for Northern Illinois in 1970, 71 and 72, Wnek led the Huskies with 11 tackles for loss totaling 70 yards during the 1972 campaign. He graduated from NIU with a B.S. in education in 1974. His son Eli was a fullback and linebacker at the University of Arizona from 1997-2001 and went on to a brief stint with the Arizona Rattlers of the Arena Football League. He is married to the former Penny Smith.
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