Old coaching friends reunite on the gridiron at UTEP

UTEP

EL PASO, TEXAS (KTSM) – The college football coaching world is like a ride at Disneyland; it’s a small, small world.

That trope is on display this year with UTEP. New offensive and defensive coordinators Dave Warner and Bradley Dale Peveto both coached with Miners head coach Dana Dimel in the late 1990s and early 2000s. That trio is now back in the same boat together and hoping to lead the 2021 Miners back to a bowl game.

When Dimel and UTEP parted ways with offensive coordinator Mike Canales and defensive coordinator Mike Cox in December, 2020, after three seasons, Dimel knew exactly who he wanted to replace them.

“He called me and I didn’t even ask him how much; I said, ‘I’ll take the job, coach.’ It was a no-brainer,” said Peveto.

Two men with championship pedigrees in college football chose to come to El Paso for one big reason: Dimel himself.

“It was 100 percent Coach Dimel that was the reason I came to UTEP,” said Warner. “All of my experiences with him have been positive; he’s a great guy to work for and we were successful.”

Peveto was Dimel’s defensive coordinator at Houston from 2000-2002; Warner was Dimel’s passing game coordinator at Wyoming in 1998. After two years as the offensive coordinator at Connecticut, Warner joined forces with Dimel and Peveto again at Houston in 2001 and 2002, once again as the passing game coordinator.

Dimel and Warner were very successful at Wyoming, going 8-3 in the Cowboys’ final season in the WAC in 1998. Overall, Dimel was 22-13 in Laramie, but his best season with the Cowboys came when Warner was on his staff.

After succeeding in Wyoming, Dimel was hired to turn around the Houston Cougars program. Peveto was kept on staff as the co-defensive coordinator from the previous regime and the duo led a downtrodden Houston program to a 3-8 record in 2000.

The next year, with Warner back on staff in 2001, was the worst of Dimel’s coaching career as the Cougars went 0-11. Things turned around in 2002, as the trio of coaches guided Houston to a 5-7 record; however, they were let go after that season. Until now, that was the last time they’ve all coached on the same staff.

20 years later, 20 years wiser, they’re all back together.

“I like what Coach Warner has brought to the table, he’s brought some great ideas schematically as well,” said Dimel. “On defense, (Peveto) is a really high motivation coach and has done a really good job with what he does. He’s very thorough and very detailed.”

The trio went their separate ways after things went south at Houston. Dimel didn’t coach college football for two seasons, resurfacing as a graduate assistant at Kansas State in 2005. He spent 2006-2008 at Arizona as the tight ends and running backs coach, before returning to Kansas State from 2009-2017 as the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator. He finally got another head coaching gig at UTEP in 2018.

From Houston, Warner was the wide receivers coach at Southern Miss from 2003-2004, then the quarterbacks coach at Cincinnati in 2006. His big break was in 2007, when he was hired at Michigan State. From 2007 to 2019, Warner served time as both the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach during a superb stretch for the Spartans that included a trip to the College Football Playoff in 2015.

In his time at Michigan State, he coached three NFL quarterbacks: Brian Hoyer, Kirk Cousins (currently the starter for the Minnesota Vikings) and Connor Cook. He’s now using that experience with UTEP signal caller, Gavin Hardison.

“I’ve had some Zoom calls with Kirk Cousins with the guys, in addition to watching film of what we did at Michigan State that we will also do here, to see how it was done,” said Warner. “Gavin has a live arm and starting experience. He’s very eager to learn and improve. The combination of his talent and work ethic will hopefully lead to a big year for him.

Warner said he’s cut from the same cloth as Dimel and prefers a run-first, balanced offensive approach. The Miners expect to utilize running back Deion Hankins in a variety of ways in Warner’s scheme.

As for Peveto, he’s been all over the SEC as a defensive wizard, even serving as the linebackers coach and special teams coordinator at LSU for the 2007 national champion Tigers. In all, he spent seven years with the Tigers, first from 2005-2008 and again from 2014-2016.

He’s also made SEC stops at Kentucky (2013), Ole Miss (2017) and Texas A&M (2018-2019). Peveto also has head coaching experience, at the FCS level at Northwestern State from 2009 to 2012.

Peveto brings a new 4-3 defensive front to El Paso, a scheme which perfectly fits a Miners defense that possesses one of the best defensive lines in Conference USA.

Most recently the linebackers coach at A&M, Peveto is excited to build on what the Miners have already in the fold and has liked what he’s seen thus far.

“I think we do a really good job as a staff of coaching and teaching them and getting in their hearts,” said Peveto. “There’s a beautiful thing about a group of men that are totally dedicated to one another and we have that going on right now.”

The trio have been all over college football; now, they’ve reunited in El Paso, as Peveto and Warner aim to help an old friend finish the job, and get the Miners to a bowl game.

UTEP will open the 2021 season on the road at New Mexico State on Aug. 28 at Aggie Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.

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