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Why coaching legend Dean Pees matched Bowling Green coach's six-figure gift

In mid-September, with little to no fanfare, Bowling Green coach Scot Loeffler approached athletics administration officials at the school with a proposal.

What if, Loeffler asked, he reallocated $100,000 – a whopping 20 percent of his full salary – to cover a portion of the projected budgetary shortfall due to COVID-19 to assist in feeding the players in the Falcons' football program?

Not a gift, with any tax breaks. Not a wink-and-a-nod to shift money now that later would come into the coach's pocket.

Loeffler, who hasn't wanted to comment on his gesture, focusing instead on Year 2 in his Bowling Green rebuild that begins tonight against rival Toledo, made this “voluntary salary reallocation that allowed us to maintain the supplemental nutrition program for players,” BG officials said.

Oh, Loeffler also inspired a gift in like kind: $100,000 from retired coaching legend and Bowling Green alum, Dean Pees.

Pees on Wednesday detailed to FootballScoop.com how Loeffler's selfless act motivated the longtime college and professional coach and his wife, Melody, to immediately give back at a school that has given their family so much through generations.

It all started simply because Pees phoned Loeffler to thank the Falcons' coach for sending some Bowling Green items after Pees had conducted a private instructional clinic for the BG staff.

“I called to thank him and we got to talking about the situation there and he mentioned he had donated a pretty good chunk of his salary to the football program and he really needed some help because they were running short of money,” said Pees, whose decorated coaching career includes stints on the staffs of Lou Holtz, Nick Saban and Bill Belichick, as well as head coach at Kent State, among other stops. “My wife (Melody) and I kind of looked at each other and said, 'Maybe we ought to do something to help.'”

He then explained that his family's desire to help boiled down to a couple of basic but fundamental reasons, the list generational of those touched by Bowling Green in the Pees family.

“It really just hit me that Coach Loeffler would do that,” Pees said. “It's one thing when coaches are making $4 million and donate a little bit, but I know what it's like in the MAC and they don't make those kinds of salaries. It was really unselfish and a generous thing he did for his program.

“And it is my alma mater, and football has been great to me and my family in my lifetime here. I've been blessed to be all the places I've been. I've never had a bad job. I've never had to go seek a job. I was blessed to have an unbelievable 47-year career. My wife and I have been able to help our family and do some things that I would not have been able to do had it not been for football.”

Which left Pees to ask himself one rhetorical question?

“Who better to help than our own alma mater and our own school?,” Pees asked. “(Melody) grew up in the area, 15 minutes from there, her Mom and Dad worked at Bowling Green, we have a daughter that went to Bowling Green, I've got three sisters who went to Bowling Green, we've got a grandson in school now at Bowling Green. It's kind of our school.”

The Pees family made just one stipulation on their six-figure gift: the money had to be dedicated solely to the football budget.

“Having coached in the MAC, I know sometimes people donate to a MAC team and it ends up in the general athletic fund,” Pees said. “Scot felt he needed to use it for nutrition and to feed the team.”

As Bowling Green made fiscal cuts across its campus and athletics budgets, 10% was slashed from the football operating budget.

The Falcons had projected a $200,000 budget this 2020-21 year for supplemental nutrition for their athletes.

Now, that figure has been made whole, and the Falcons' coaches and players have one less worry as they return to action tonight against rival Toledo, a team whose nine-game winning streak in the series was halted last year in Loeffler's Bowling Green debut.

It all meshes together for Pees, Bowling Green's 2019 commencement speaker for the school's college of education.

“Work hard and love the job you have; I use the term rise. That's been my motto all along,” Pees, who retired from coaching last January after he helped lead the Tennessee Titans to the AFC Championship game, said. “I actually played the piano and wrote a song for the commencement. Too many people nowadays want the easy way out, and are just looking for the next job when they have a job.

“One of the reasons I've been lucky to be successful in my career, I never looked for another job. It's just come. I was happy as a high school coach, a small college coach, MAC, Big Ten, Notre Dame. I've loved every job I have ever had. I've never interviewed for a job and never been fired in 47 years. I attribute that to loving the job and working hard. If you do that, just enjoy the job you have, and be loyal and faithful to the people you work for, it will work out.”