Mike Price Returns as Band-Aid for UTEP Football Program
When the members of the El Paso media gathered yesterday afternoon at the Durham Center, one of the big unanswered questions was to find out who would take over the UTEP football program as interim head coach. Sean Kugler had stepped down from his position less than 24 hours earlier, and the university announced that immediate future plans for the UTEP football program would be announced at the weekly football media luncheon. Director of Athletics Bob Stull was in attendance, along with current offensive coordinator Brian Natkin and defensive coordinator Tom Mason. When Stull addressed the media, he explained that he had not made up his mind on his interim hire and wanted to talk to Miner players and coaches before making his decision.
Just hours later, UTEP issued a press release that Mike Price would return to the program as head coach for the remainder of the season. The only problem was that Stull did not inform the players and coaches of his decision prior to the official release. As you would expect, some Miner players were not thrilled with the news, while coaches were disappointed that the interim head coach did not come from inside the program.
Price will be introduced at a press conference later today. His return to the program will sell extra tickets for the final three home games, something UTEP desperately needs. It remains to be seen if Price will allow Natkin to call the same offensive plays or if he will bring more of his trademark passing style to the Miners. The only thing certain at this point is that Price has no interest in staying on as head coach after this season. "I am not interviewing for the future job, and I’m not going to be the future head coach," Price said in the official school release announcing his return. "I’m going to manage the program and provide leadership for the rest of the year."
I know that some people think this is a way for Price to position his son Eric for the head coaching job after this season. This rumor could not be further from the truth. Eric is currently working for the Jacksonville Jaguars to oversee offensive research, while his other son Aaron is in his first season as head coach of the Hanks Knights. Since he retired after the 2012 season, Mike Price has stayed in El Paso and he remains extremely close to Stull. I believe that his decision to return to his old job with the Miners is nothing more than to help out his friend who had asked him for one more favor. Now we will see if Price has any tricks left to try and give UTEP fans a magical ride for the remainder of the season.