Mike Price Media Luncheon Quotes
November 19, 2012
(On Saturday’s 34-33 win at Southern Miss) “Our offense did a real good job. We were 7-for-14 on third down and 5-for-5 in the red zone. We were 2-for-2 in goal line situations and had zero turnovers. That’s what helped us win the game. On defense, we got two turnovers. They only had four third down completions. We hit the quarterback a ton and played the run real well. We dominated them in special teams. We had great returns and great field position. We were 100 percent on field goals and PATs, from our snapper to our holder to our kicker. All that and we won by one point. We were playing a team that hadn’t won a game and it felt like we had beaten the Green Bay Packers. Blaire Sullivan had a real good night. Michael Edwards was sick and had four receptions for 89 yards. Jerel Watkins and Eloy Atkinson played real well on the offensive line. Devin Patterson made a great catch in a third and long situation where Blaire rolled out to his right and just threw a picture perfect pass. Darren Woodard and A.J. Ropati played really well on defense. Marcus Bagley was all over the field. Demarcus Kizzie, a walk-on freshman, made the interception on the two-point play. Josh Fely and Gage Sharp played real well at linebacker. It was quite a night, a lot of fun. We wanted to break their will but didn’t, so you have to give them credit.”
“Last night I talked to our coaches about keeping the worst kept secret in the Durham Center, that Rice would be my last game as your head coach. I wanted to tell [the coaches] face to face and make it as personal as possible. I told the team this morning face to face. I want to keep the emphasis on Rice, and I want to keep the emphasis this week on our seniors. I am retiring from the game that I have loved and respected my whole life … 44 years, I guess. That’s all I’ve wanted to be. I know some of you wanted to be track stars or soccer stars. All I’ve ever wanted to be is a football coach. It has been a great life. Talk about being lucky. Every day has been fun. I have respected the game. I wish I could coach here forever. But that doesn’t happen. That’s the reality of life. I’m sure proud to go out with this group of players. They are great kids, great men and lots of fun to be around. I’m just so proud of them. They have been so good to coach. That has made this year a lot better. The won-lost record isn’t what we wanted it to be.
“Everything you want in a young man is what we have on our team right now. They represent our school. And I mean our school. We didn’t all go to school at UTEP, but whether you went here or not, we’re all Miners. We all want the Miners to do well. We want UTEP to be successful. And I intend to support this program and help this city as much as I can in the future. This is mine and Joyce’s home now, and we’re El Pasoans.
“First of all, I have to thank and should thank [UTEP President] Dr. Natalicio. She gave me a chance when no one else would take a chance on me. Joyce and I will always be thankful to her. She is the best president in America. Her right hand man, Richard Adauto has been so supportive, cooperative and helpful. I can’t thank him enough. I was proud to have coached his son here. I know we’re leaving the program solid for the next head coach. Financially, we made some money this year. We’re doing a great job academically with the football players. Everybody on this team is eligible right now and athletically we’re in good shape. We have 34 redshirt freshmen on the team. It’s a good young program in good shape. Our support staff is awesome and has done a great job, and there needs to be no changes there in my opinion. My coaches are truly my friends. Thanks everybody so much. We will have all week to hang out together and celebrate, because that’s truly what I want this to be, a celebration this week with our players. This is going to be fun.
“I would be remiss to say that I’m not 100 percent supportive of Andre Patterson to succeed me as the head coach. It is not my decision, but I do want to make that perfectly clear if anybody wants to listen. There is someone else I’d like to thank. That’s my wife of 46 years, Joyce. She wants to talk, but she goes on and on and on [laughs]. She has been with me as a player. She has raised two football players and watched them play little league, Pop Warner, junior high and high school, and then they went into the god awful profession of coaching. For 46 years she has been with me, and now I’m going to spend some time with her and she’s going to come first in my life.
“Bob [Stull] has given this program a lot and has been 100 percent supportive of me and really loyal. When things are going bad, boy is he good. He’s at his best. I didn’t win enough games, period. In this profession you’ve got to win games. But it’s really something when you can call your boss your best friend. Joyce and I love Bob and Kim a whole bunch, and that doesn’t happen a lot of places. It’s hard to have that kind of relationship with your boss in the athletic world, because everybody leaves pissed off and I’m not. I just came back from Hattiesburg, Miss., and boy did that make me realize what great fans and people we have. They have a first-year coach, and he’s a big-time coach, and they’re booing him all through the stands. It’s not like that here. These fans appreciate UTEP and always have. It’s the best thing for our family to be here, and we appreciate your support of our football team and our program and what we’ve done here.”
(On staying on in the athletic department) “I don’t know what capacity that would be. I have no plans right now. I’m interested in staying on board as a booster and as a supporter, and I will do anything the athletic department asks me to do. I’m in all the way. I’m not jumping out of the boat. I have been an athletic director, and I don’t want that job. This guy [Bob Stull] is the best at what he does. If the new coach wants advice, that’s fine. I’m definitely going to be here to support these players. I’m disappointed I can’t be here to coach the freshmen I’ve recruited. If I’m asked, I’ll be there, but right now we’ll probably take a little time off.”
(On when he decided to retire)
“We’ve been talking about it for a couple of weeks. As you talk and discuss it with people, it starts to get out. I kind of wanted to wait until the end of the year, but this is ok. We have a responsible team. They’re going to be motivated and our coaches aren’t going to quit on anybody. They’re going to work hard to make this a great week.”
(On his legacy)
“That’s hard for me to say. I’m just so happy with the relationships I have built here in El Paso. It’s just going to continue. It’s going to be a great chapter in Joyce and my life. We don’t know what we want to do, but we’re going to be around and support athletics in this community, and maybe do some charity work she is interested in becoming involved with, helping high school students get advanced scholarships and other stuff like that. I can’t say one thing other than that I think we’ve been representative and I think we’ve been competitive. We just haven’t won enough games.”
(On maintaining continuity in the football program) “I think there is going to be continuity in our program. I think if Andre gets the job, that’s awesome. But we have awesome assistant coaches here, and they’re going to be retained and we have awesome support staff and they’re going to be retained. Nobody is running around threatening to fire people. Bob is the best in the business at hiring people. His only mistake was me [laughs].”
(On keeping the recruiting class together) “Recruiting is definitely an issue. We have 14 kids who have committed to us. Our staff and I are going to work on it and talk to the parents about the program. We’re going to solidify those [commitments] with coach Stull’s help.”
(On meeting with the team)
“The players were a little bit stunned. They probably thought it would be after the last game. I don’t think they were shocked. With this group, I’m not worrying about any quit or anybody going sideways on us.”
(On what he has done for UTEP)
“Probably the main thing we’ve done is raise our expectation level, raised our attitude, raised our self image. What do the kids in high school think about UTEP now? Do they want to go here? Yeah, it’s a great place. Do they want national recognition and play in bowl games and enjoy winning seasons and go into locker rooms that are beautiful and nice and be treated with dignity in the community? Yes. This is a great place to play college football.”
(What’s the hardest thing about consistently winning here?) “I have been other places where it is harder to win than UTEP. That is a cop out to me. I think you can win here. I didn’t do a good enough job and didn’t win enough games. That’s my fault.”
(How much would a packed Sun Bowl mean on Saturday?) “It would be great. It would be awesome. The next step is to give the beer away free. That will get them in here!” [Laughs]
(On the best day of his UTEP tenure)
“The day I stood up here and got the job. That meant an awful lot to the Price family. There are only two people responsible for that, who took a chance on me, and that’s Diana and Bob. I can call her Diana now [laughs].”
(On staying in El Paso)
“We’re definitely going to continue to live here. We love it here. We have our summer home up in Coeur d’Alene that we’re looking into, but the more places you go, the better El Paso looks. We have friends here and the people are just so gracious and nice. It was obvious to me when I was looking at the stadium [in Hattiesburg] and what they’re writing about the poor coach there. It’s BS. You don’t get that here. I’ve been to a lot places and I have thick skin, but they treat people with dignity and respect here and I appreciate that.”