Notes on the coach: UTEP’s Dimel brings Big 12 past into Texas matchup

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Saturday will be Dana Dimel's first visit to Austin as head coach of the University of Texas at El Paso Miners, but he is no stranger to walking the sidelines at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. 

Dimel served as the offensive coordinator for Big 12 foe Kansas State from 2009 to 2017 before taking over as head coach at UTEP, signaling that the third-year head coach should be quite familiar with the prospect of game planning against the Longhorns. 

And if there is one thing Dimel has proven throughout his 32-year coaching career, it’s that he can scheme effectively against Big 12 defenses. 

Under head coach Bill Snyder, Dimel was the mastermind behind an extremely successful Kansas State offense that averaged 33.4 points per game and 6.2 yards per play, helping vault the Wildcats to eight straight bowl appearances during his tenure. 

From 2011-2017, Dimel had the most wins of any active coordinator in college football with 61. His most notable accomplishment as a playcaller was the development and usage of Heisman finalist quarterback Collin Klein. 

Starting during the 2011 campaign, Dimel adjusted his pass-heavy philosophy to allow Klein — a three-star quarterback who was recruited as the 655th best player in the country — to thrive. Klein proceeded to break the NCAA record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback and finished third in Heisman voting the next year in a season where the Wildcats won their first Big 12 championship in over a decade. 

Suffice it to say, Dimel has a history of finding success as an offensive coordinator by getting the most out of his players who often weren’t top-ranked recruits.

 

After being a key component in transforming Kansas State into a program to be feared in the Big 12, UTEP brought on Dimel as a head coach in hopes that he would oversee a similar turnaround in Conference USA. 

Dimel arrived in El Paso with limited expectations after inheriting a rebuilding UTEP program that finished 0–12 the season before his arrival. Still, it’s hard to imagine Dimel isn’t already on the proverbial hot seat after only accruing three wins throughout his two-year tenure as the Miners head coach and losing eight games last year by more than two touchdowns.

The good news for Dimel is it is well known that rebuilding a program like UTEP’s is a concerted effort that takes time for recruiting classes and players to develop. 

That being said, he’s going to have to find a little more success in the win-loss column in order to inspire some confidence among fans and decision makers that he’s the right man for the job. 

Through one game in the 2020 season, Dimel and the Miners have already matched their win total from the past two seasons after looking dominant for three quarters in a win over Stephen F. Austin this past Saturday. 

Although it would take a major upset for UTEP to double their win total in a victory over the Longhorns, Dimel told the El Paso Times on Monday that he views the game against Texas as an opportunity for his players to have fun. 

“It will be fun for the guys to get out and have a good size crowd in the stadium,” Dimel said. “That will be fun after their hard work. They get to play in front of people.”