UTEP head football coach Mike Price is set to announce his retirement on Monday afternoon after spending thirty-one years as a college football head coach.
Price, who holds a 48-60 record in nine seasons as Miners head coach, has posted a 131-138 record as a FBS coach in his stints at Washington State and UTEP. Price infamously held the Alabama head coaching job for five months in 2003 before an off-the-field incident cost him the job before he ever coached a game for the Crimson Tide.Price’s tenure in El Paso started off very promising, as he led the Miners to back-to-back bowl games for the first time since the 1954 and 1955 seasons. However, things dropped off from that point on, leading to UTEP failing to post a record of .500 or better in the seven seasons that followed.
Price had many highlights in his career (including two Rose Bowl appearances during his tenure at Washington State), but to me he will ultimately be remembered for the things he failed to do—most notably holding onto the job of Crimson Tide head coach.
Price’s exit from UTEP means the Miners will be hunting for a new head coach. Here are four candidates that they should strongly consider for the position:
Willie Fritz, Sam Houston State HC – Fritz has done a great job as Bearkats head coach, holding a 28-9 record over three seasons, including a loss in the FCS Championship game last year. Fritz has been rumored as a candidate for a few jobs since last year’s run by the Bearkats, and although he would probably prefer a better first FBS job, it will take a run at a school like UTEP before a job in a BCS conference becomes a possibility.
Manny Diaz, Texas DC – Now in his second season as Longhorns’ defensive coordinator, many see Diaz as one of the bright young minds in FBS football today. Despite some of the struggles that Texas has had on defense this year, they still sit at 8-2 and have had four games in which they held opponents to 20 points or less.
Mike Stoops, Oklahoma DC – Stoops did a respectable job as Arizona head coach from 2004 to 2011, leading the Wildcats to three winning seasons and one bowl victory. The Sooners are having a respectable year as far as the defense is concerned (currently ranked 41st with 370 yards allowed per game), which could help Stoops land another head coaching gig.
Todd Monken, Oklahoma State OC – A former assistant with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monken has done a great job as offensive coordinator for the Cowboys, a team that is currently 7-3 and is averaging 45 points per game. A college will eventually hand Monken a head coaching position, and that team will more than likely see their record books re-written under his watch.