EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel is pulling double-duty this week. Dimel, who is in his fourth season as head coach of the Miners, is preparing his team for their first bowl appearance since 2014. He’s also recruiting with the early signing period beginning on Wednesday.
Despite the challenge, Dimel isn’t treating the two tall tasks all that differently. The Miners, who is will play Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl on Saturday, Dec. 18, are using the bowl game as a recruiting tool.
“It’s very important for us to have a bowl game to recruit off of,” said Dimel. “We brought a couple recruits in last weekend to watch bowl practice, and we had practices two-fold to get our younger guys better, but also to have the recruits see us practice. We can take advantage of that opportunity for them to see the comradery in our team, and it’s really neat to go out there and see how much unity we have on our team right now. I think that has been one of our ‘ace in the holes’ this year — we aren’t building our team from the transfer portal, we are doing it by bringing guys in and developing them.”
Beating Fresno State would be UTEP’s first bowl win since 1967. It would also go long ways in proving to the nation, and recruits for that matter, the program is on the up. Building a program doesn’t happen overnight — as we’ve seen since Dimel took over as the head coach — but it also doesn’t happen without having postseason success. Winning cures all, and that component has been missing for UTEP football for 54 years.
“That’s what the building of a program is really about right now,” said Dimel. “I think it’s an attractive draw to more players, and now we want to finish out this year the way we need to finish it out. We don’t lose a lot of players from this year’s team, and we have a chance to really build on it going into next season.”
After starting the season 6-1, perception of Miners football began to sway. However, losing four of their next five games to finish 7-5 brought plenty of naysayers to the fold. Those who doubt UTEP see the Miners’ seven wins coming against teams with a combined record of 23-59. Their best win came against Old Dominion (6-6), the only bowl-eligible team the Miners beat this season.
As for those who like to see the glass half full, UTEP played to their schedule and found a way to get into the postseason. That’s a win in and of itself considering the program’s lackluster history. However, a bowl win against one the Mountain West Conference’s top teams would do wonders for this team moving forward. Not only for the returners on this team in 2022, but for Dimel and his staff on the recruiting trail in 2022 and beyond. Consistently winning bowl games changes the image of program like nothing else can.
Here’s to the glass half full.