EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — UTEP head football coach Dana Dimel has fired both his offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. In a release sent out on Friday afternoon, Dimel announcing he has relieved Mike Canales and Mike Cox of their duties, effective immediately.
A national search will begin immediately to appoint their successors.
“While this was a difficult decision to make, I feel it is in the best interest of our football program moving forward,” said Dimel. “These are good men and I would like to thank them for their service, and wish them well in the future.”
Both Canales and Cox have been at UTEP since Dimel brought them on board in his first year as head coach in 2018. The Miners went 1-11 in 2018 and in 2019, but went 3-5 in an abbreviated 2020 season. Both units saw notable improvements.
UTEP’s offense is ranked 104th in the country this season, but averaged 23.0 points per game, which is nearly a four point boost from 2019. The offense was led by sophomore quarterback Gavin Hardison who showed flashes throughout the year, throwing for 1,419 yards and five touchdowns. Redshirt freshman running back Deion Hankins rushed for 604 yards and nine touchdowns while sophomore wide receiver Jacob Cowing hauled in 41 receptions for 691 yards and three touchdowns.
Former UTEP quarterback Kai Locksley, who started for the Miners in 2018 and in 2019, took to Twitter to voice his opinion of Dimel letting Canales go. Locksley saying his former offensive coordinator never really had the opportunity, while he was playing, to call plays and run the offense.
The Miners’ defense ranks 47th in total defense in 2020, again, an improvement from the previous season. Sophomore defensive end Praise Amaewhule led UTEP with seven sacks, however, the Miners saw four starting defensive backs enter the transfer portal before last Friday’s season finale at North Texas.
One would imagine 2021, which will be Dimel’s fourth season at UTEP, will be a make or break year. The Miners are 5-27, including 1-19 in Conference USA play over the last three seasons. Three of those wins, including a pair in 2020, have come against FCS opponents.