UTEP Football Fires Dana Dimel After 3-9 Season
After six seasons at UTEP, Dana Dimel has been fired as the football head coach, sources told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg.
Dimel went 20-49 in six seasons as the coach for the Miners. He experienced a 7-6 season in 2021 that ended in a loss to Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. However, the Miners endured back-to-back losing seasons in consecutive years, finishing 5-7 in 2022 and 3-9 in 2023.
“We would like to thank Dana for the dedication and hard work that he has put in over the last six years, and we wish him the best in the future,” UTEP Vice President and Director of Athletics Jim Senter said in a statement. “Under his leadership, our football program has shown improvement in all the academic metrics, and we have had minimal off-the-field issues. When he was hired, UTEP Football was coming off a winless season, and he built a more competitive team. However, we have not seen the kind of improvement necessary to compete for and win championships. We determined that a change in leadership was needed for the program to move forward.”
When he was asked what's next for him and the staff, Dimel told the broadcast, "We go back to recruiting and go back to filling the voids. We have a lot of production coming back so we have a lot of returning guys.... It's important to us to generate NIL money. It's just part of college football."
However, the UTEP football program only had a single commit for the early recruiting period (Dec. 20)—local Pebble Hill standout quarterback Gael Ochoa. Typically under Dimel, the program would've had offers out to mid-year transfers to capitalize on the early signing class. For instance, last winter they signed 17 players on early signing day.
In the media scrum postgame yesterday—similar to what's been said before—Dimel talked about the mounting injuries as a reason for the team's disappointing 3-9 finish in 2023. However, the team lost five of its first six games of the season when they were relatively healthy. The lone win early into the year came in a 28-14 victory against FCS Incarnate Word.
As far as the NIL concerns Dimel brought up, they are valid for the program. Currently, the Miners are operating without an NIL collective, which is almost a necessity in today's college football. For context, UTEP men's basketball benefits from the Miner Collective (NIL), which supports scholarship student-athletes on the men's basketball squad. New Mexico State's football program benefits from the A-Mountain NIL Collective to support student-athletes.
In 2021, Senter awarded Dimel a contract extension that inked him at UTEP through the 2024 season with a base salary of $850,000. Per a clause in his contract, the university is able to buy out Dimel's contract for $667,000, which is a little over 60% of his base salary.
As the national search commences, there will be interesting names that the Miner football program will target. You can throw a slew of names out there—experienced head coaches like former TCU head coach Gary Patterson or former Utah State coach Matt Wells; possibly they go with an experienced coach at a small school, such as Idaho's Jason Eck or Incarnate Word's Clint Killough; or, the Miners could look at a rising coordinator like UNLV offensive coordinator Brennan Marion or former Miner quarterback Mack Leftwich.
It's too early to piece names together. The one important date for Miner fans to know is Dec. 4, which is the first day the NCAA transfer portal opens for college football players. The Miners need to act carefully and strategically in order to name a head coach quickly in this cycle. The head coach will not only be tasked to quickly build a roster, but the coach will also need to work on trying to retain some of the players on the current roster and avoid a mass exodus.