Bruney back in the collegiate coaching ranks

It never hurts to be in the right place at the right time.

Martins Ferry graduate Zac Bruney will certainly attest to that as it pertains to his coaching career.

Without necessarily looking for a new job, Bruney heard about an opening through the coaching grapevine at Division II Ohio Dominican University in Columbus.

“Things work out and happen for a reason,” Bruney said during a recent phone interview.

Bruney, who had worked as guidance counselor and coached under his father, Dave, last season, worked summer camps at both Ohio State and Michigan and from talking to people there learned there could be an opening on Bill Conley’s staff with the Panthers after an assistant left for an opportunity at Ball State University.

“I was having lunch with a few coaches at the Michigan camp, a couple of guys knew my situation and gave me a few references,” Bruney said.

After leaving Ann Arbor, Bruney stopped and interviewed with Ohio Dominican that afternoon.

“I had a job offer by the end of the weekend,” Bruney said.

Bruney accepted Conley’s offer to become the Panthers’ quarterbacks coach and assistant recruiting coordinator.

For Bruney, the hardest part of the entire situation was telling his dad that he was resigning from his staff.

“It was tough,” Bruney admitted. “I’d been with him all spring, working on things, involved with the off-season workouts and getting ready for the season. I let him know I was going to work a couple of camps and then this opportunity at Ohio Dominican came about.”

Knowing that his son’s dream is to coach at the collegiate level, Dave was nothing but supportive of his Zac’s decision.

“He supports me in everything I do and basically said, ‘you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,'” Zac said. “I am just thankful for the opportunity that he, (Superintendent) Dirk Fitch and (high school principal) Jeff Oberdick gave me when I was kind of in an in-between stage in my career.”

Bruney returned to his high school alma mater after spending three seasons as the offensive coordinator at his collegiate alma mater, Mt. Union.

“The kids at Martins Ferry were great and the opportunity to come back home again was very exciting for me,” Zac said. “If this job hadn’t come about, I would be wrapping up team camp and getting ready for doubles. This was just an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down for my own personal goals and endeavors.”

Zac realized when he was a graduate assistant at the University of Toledo that coaching at the collegiate level was what he wanted to do.

“When I was an under grad, I kind of geared myself toward exercise science and thought about going the strength and conditioning route,” Zac admitted. “Then I felt like I’d like to land a G.A. job and see where that takes me and to get your grad school paid for would be awesome. Once, I started doing it, I knew that coaching college was for me. I like working with kids in the 18-22 year old range, enjoy recruiting and everything that goes into it. My goal is to keep advancing up the (coaching) ladder.”

Zac, who officially moved to Columbus with his wife Amber last weekend, begins training camp on Aug. 11 to prepare for the Sept. 5 opener at Georgetown, Ky.

Ohio Dominican is a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) and plays in the Southern division, which features defending conference champion Ashland.

“I think the GLIAC is the best Division II league in the country,” Bruney said. “It’s going to be a grind. We’ll prepare each week and be ready to play. It’s fun for the players and coaches, to a point, and it’s great for the fans.”


OHIO VALLEY fans will have a chance to watch Ohio Dominican play on CBS Sports Network against Findlay on Thursday, Oct. 17.

ALONG WITH BRUNEY, two former Ohio State players – Winfield Garnett and Pepe Pearson – are members of the coaching staff. The ODU offensive coordinator is Todd Goebel, who was the quarterback at Kent State University before current Bellaire head coach Jose Davis beat him out for the job. Goebel eventually transferred to Northern Iowa.

“It’s a good, big staff,” Bruney said. “For a Division II school, we’re fortunate to have the number of coaches that we do. Our goal is to keep rising as Division II program and it’s made good progress when you think that the football program is just 10 years old.”

BRUNEY will be responsible for recruiting northwest and western parts of Ohio.

Staskey can be reached at