By Angel Verdejo

The Cove Herald

Jack Welch feels like his plan for the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs isn't complete.

And even though Eastern New Mexico will likely be the latest football program the longtime head coach turns down to continue what he's doing at Cove, the one-time college coach admits it's still in his blood.

The NCAA Division II school in Portales announced Welch as one three finalists for the head coaching position. The other two are New Mexico Military Institute head coach Josh Lynn, who just led his team to the 11th annual CHAMPS Heart of Texas Bowl in Cove, which Welch helped

establish, and Texas-El Paso assistant head coach Jeff Woodruff, who applied for the head position at Temple High School last year.

Former ENMU head coach Mark Ribaudo stepped down last month after five years at the helm.

"I've had several opportunities over the years and it's always been very difficult for me to leave Copperas Cove because I have a vision, I have a vision for what we can be, where we're going," said Welch, who is 160-52-1 since coming to Cove in 1994. "I don't feel like my work here is finished. I've been here 18 years and I feel just as fresh as when we first came in. It's hard for me to really visualize being somewhere else.

"On the other hand, I've been a college coach, I've been a head college coach and I have college-coaching blood in me."

Welch came to Cove after a run in college as both a head coach and assistant. He was the head coach at Kansas Wesleyan (1985-86) and Fort Scott Community College (1987-92).

His last stop was as an assistant at Louisiana Tech.

Welch took a Kansas Wesleyan team that went 0-11 the season before his arrival and posted a 6-4 record his second year. At Fort Scott, Welch led the Greyhounds to five consecutive winning seasons and three straight bowl appearances.

"You take a look at it and see what happens" said Welch, who visited ENMU Wednesday. "They've asked me to come interview. They've asked me to come out to the campus and take a look, so I will take a look.

"But again, it's going to be hard for me to leave Copperas Cove, to be honest, because I love it here so much."

Welch turned around a Cove program that before his arrival hadn't reached the playoffs since 1960.

Cove went 5-4-1 in Welch's first season and made the playoffs for the first time in 1998. That year started a playoff run that stretched five straight seasons and every year to date except 2003.

The Dawgs reached back-to-back Division I-4A finals in 2006-07 and the Division II-5A semifinals the next season.

Both of Welch's sons played at Cove, with the oldest - former quarterback Josh Welch - now in his fourth year as a varsity assistant.

But it's not just the Dawgs that will likely keep Welch where he's at. He and his family are entrenched in the community, including their church, the Lions Club and the CHAMPS program.

Welch is also currently working on his doctorate degree from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

"They asked me to take a look and I'll take a look at it and visit with them, but to leave Copperas Cove and our school district would be very difficult for me because I'm so invested," Welch said. "You get a feeling. Right now my feeling is for Copperas Cove."

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