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Ex-Dawg coach undergoes surgery for cancer

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Posted: Thursday, February 5, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 10:32 am, Fri Aug 30, 2013.

By Evan Mohl

The Cove Herald

Former Kentucky and Copperas Cove High School football coach Hal Mumme - one of the main reasons current coach Jack Welch took the Bulldawgs job in 1994 - revealed he has prostate cancer on Tuesday.

"My two greatest achievements at Cove included: hiring Billy Gilespie as basketball coach and convincing Jack Welch to take the job six years after I left," Mumme said with a hint of sarcasm back in July in a phone interview. "But I remember my brief time at Cove fondly. The town always had the talent to produce great football teams, and credit Jack for taking that program to unprecedented heights."

On Wednesday, Mumme underwent a procedure at the University of Kentucky's Markey Cancer Center that doctors believe will stop the disease before it spreads. Should all go according to plan, Mumme, who has been unemployed since New Mexico State fired him in December, can resume his search for a new coaching job as early as this spring.

Mumme delayed testing until well after the season, despite blood tests that showed abnormally heightened levels of PSA.

"My first inclination was to tell no one," Mumme said. "After thinking about it, that probably wasn't an option. Then I decided I should tell everyone. I'm going to be an advocate for men not doing what I did and ignore the situation for six months."

Mumme was the head coach at Cove from 1986-87 and his teams were 7-12-1, including the first non-losing season at Cove in 10 years.

Welch credits Mumme with spurring him to apply for the Bulldawgs job.

"After consulting with Hal, I turned in my resume at 9 a.m. the day of the deadline. I think I had until about noon," Welch said. "I was actually looking to go to a place where there had been more success and I even joked with Hal that he didn't do that well here. But he said there were opportunities here."

The two coached together at West Texas State (now West Texas A&M) in 1980 where Welch worked with the secondary and Mumme handled the quarterbacks. Welch said he knew he was among a great coach at the time.

"Hal's an innovator, an offensive genius," Welch said. "He always made things happen where nobody else could. There wasn't a program he couldn't turn around."

The Dawgs sent three players to Mumme during his tenure at New Mexico State: Alphonso Powell, Matt Schoonover and Roberto Davis.

Welch remains good friends with Mumme, and speaks with him frequently.

"I hope he's OK," Welch said. "He's a good friend of mine. I pray that he'll get through it."

It will be the Mumme family's second experience with cancer treatment at Markey. Mumme's wife, June, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1996. She has since written a book about her experience and served as a national ambassador for breast cancer issues, a fact that Mumme says most embarrassed him that he waited to get tested.

"Anybody that's been through that, it gets your attention," he said. "I probably should have done something faster, but I didn't. Certainly there was a tremendous amount of political pressure in my home for me to do something."

Mumme coached Kentucky from 1997-2000 and his teams were 20-26. He left amid a recruiting scandal that led to the football program being sanctioned by the NCAA. He spent the past four years coaching the Aggies.

The Associated Press contributed to report.

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