Ranking the Four Rumored Finalists for UTEP Football Job Opening
Editor’s note: Happy UTEP football interview day! The four names that are rumored to be interviewing today with Director of Athletics Jim Senter in Dallas include Brennan Marion (UNLV offensive coordinator), Eric Price (ex-NFL offensive coordinator), Kenny Perry (Texas Tech associate head coach) and a new name that emerged, Scotty Walden (Austin Peay head coach).
Along with Steve, Sal and Zay, we’re all returning to the table to give our picks in order of preference for the head coaching vacancy at UTEP.
Each day that passes without a new head coach could lead to more names hitting the transfer portal from the program.
UTEP has had standouts like running back Deion Hankins and wideouts Kelly Akharaiyi and Tyrin Smith enter the portal on Thursday. At the same time, starters like safety Kobe Hylton and offensive tackle Justin Mayers hit the portal earlier this week. The new coach will be tasked in trying to retain some of the previous roster and capitalize on the transfer portal window officially opening on Monday, Dec. 4.
Here’s to an important weekend for UTEP football.
1. Brennan Marion – The 36-year-old has a terrific resume that includes everything, from high school to Division 2, FCS, and Power 5 teams. This season, he helped orchestrate the UNLV offense into a point scoring machine. Marion has been a hot name all season and will get his opportunity to become either a head coach or Power 5 coordinator sooner rather than later. What impresses me most about him is that he developed an offense that combined a little bit of everything and now elements of his system are even being used in the NFL. He has coached at five programs over the last five years, and he is my top overall choice to help turn the UTEP football program around.
2. Scotty Walden – Here is your classic example of an innovative and energetic coach who has succeeded at smaller schools since he went into coaching right out of college. In fact, he was only 30 years old when he took over the football program at Austin Peay, the youngest head coach at the Division 1 level. Walden was named a finalist for the FCS Coach of the Year after he led Austin Peay to nine straight victories in 2023. He also played Tennessee tough in an early season game. He runs a fast-paced offense and thrives on catching opposing defenses off-guard. Like Marion, Walden is a young coach on the rise who would instantly change the culture at UTEP.
3. Eric Price – When this name first surfaced, my initial reaction was does Eric Proce want to get back into college coaching? Prior to his time with the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff, Price was the offensive coordinator at Tulane. He spent four years at UTEP from 2004-07 as the Miners offensive coordinator before he left for a job with the Kansas City Chiefs. Unlike Marion and Walden, Price would not be looking to win and move up to a Power 5 job. He also runs an offense that Miners fans are familiar with, knows and likes El Paso, the UTEP boosters love him, and he wants to get out in the public and get people excited again. He might not be the splash hire like the others, but Price would be the safest choice for Jim Senter.
4. Kenny Perry – Here is the most dynamic personality of the four. If he was not in college football, Perry would most likely be the mayor of the town that he lived in. He has an extremely outgoing personality, loves to recruit, raise money, and sell his football program. Sounds like the perfect CEO. As for Xs and Os, Perry would most likely hire coordinators to take care of both sides of the ball. He might win UTEP over during his interview and have the same impact on fans during his introductory press conference. Can he turn the Miners football program into a consistent winner? As we know, that has been an almost impossible tough task for anyone over the last 35 years, but Perry’s personality on and off the field would give him a shot.
1. Brennan Marion – He's my top overall pick and has been since the process started. Sources tell 600 ESPN El Paso that Marion, who is coaching in UNLV’s Mountain West Championship game this weekend, wants the job and is hungry to start his own program. At just 36 years old, Marion is a rising star in the sport and stands on an innovative, exciting go-go offense that combines the triple option with spread looks. Though Marion has been in talks for offensive coordinator openings at Power 5 programs—such as Arkansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Penn State—how could he turn down a head coaching opportunity like this? He could build UTEP through immediate JUCO transfers, transfer portal players and try to retain some of the guys on the current team.
2. Scotty Walden — Honestly, when the name was mentioned to me by sources, I felt Scotty Walden would be an underwhelming hire. However, the more I examine Walden’s success, the more I’m bullish on the young, up-and-coming head coach. He was initially hired at Austin Peay as the youngest head coach in Division I history. He racked up 17 wins in his first three seasons, so he’ll pitch to the UTEP brass that he wants to win fast. After the 2022 season, in which the Governors went to the ASUN Championship, Walden signed an extension with the school and is tied through the 2025 season. They finished the 2023 season with a 9-3 record, including a perfect 6-0 finish in conference action. Walden could bring a new culture to UTEP and the more I dig into him, the more I like the name.
3. Kenny Perry – For me, it’s Marion and Walden... then a drop-off for Perry and Price. Perry has deep ties in Texas high school football and would help instantly in recruiting. That’s the only reason I give him the edge over Price. Perry coached at Sam Houston HS, Haltom HS and Arlington Bowie HS throughout the 2000s. Then, he bounced from TCU, Kansas, Dallas Renegades, SMU and currently Texas Tech, as he’s coached everything from cornerbacks to special teams to running backs. Under another Texas high school coaching legend Joey Maguire at Texas Tech, perhaps Perry’s pitch is he can bring talent to El Paso and build something at UTEP using his ties to coaches across the Lone Star State.
4. Eric Price – In my eyes, UTEP needs someone completely outside of the program with no ties to the university. There’s no doubt in my mind that Eric Price has the coaching prowess to develop a high-level offense at UTEP. His dad, Mike, did it for years in El Paso and people loved him for it. But, he’s been out of the college coaching mix for seven years now and I worry about recruiting. However, if Price became the guy and hired a staff full of young and hungry coaches, I could be sold on his vision for the program.
1. Brennan Marion – The young and exciting offensive coordinator from UNLV is my top pick, and it isn’t particularly close. Marion has the highest ceiling of any coach on this list due to his electric go-go offense, that has helped UNLV become one of the top G5’s in the country. He would come in and be able to sell a lot of recruits on UTEP, something the Miners have been missing. He’s been able to learn under UNLV head coach Barry Odom this year, who used a mix of players from the transfer portal, JUCO, and high school ranks en route to UNLV’s 9-win season.
2. Kenny Perry – Although I’d like to see a younger head coach at the helm for the Miners, Perry brings coaching experience from the state of Texas at both the collegiate and high school level. He helped turn Arlington Bowie into a state powerhouse while he was the coach there, then jumped into the college coaching game at TCU as the Director of High School Relations. He has had coaching stints at SMU, TCU, Kansas, and now Texas Tech. Perry would be able to bring talent from Texas to UTEP, something the Miners have failed to do. A head coaching job at the college level is long overdue for Kenny Perry, and UTEP could give him that opportunity.
3. Scotty Walden – The Austin Peay head man has led the Governors to a couple of conference championships. I’m rather low on Walden compared to others, even though his resume may be the strongest out of everyone else’s. He has both west and east Texas ties and is the only guy here with head coaching experience at the college level. But I feel like the guys ahead of him have a much higher ceiling at UTEP than Walden. How far could Walden take UTEP? That is my biggest question.
4. Eric Price – I wouldn’t mind hiring someone with ties to UTEP/El Paso, but not when it’s someone whose dad coached here. I wouldn’t be a fan of this hire at all, just due to Price being out of the coaching game for an extended period. The college game has changed completely since Price was last at the FBS level.
1. Brennan Marion - Brennan Marion my top pick for the job. He is a widely sought after and a well respected college head coach in the making. He’s young but has had success at every level he’s been at, plus he released a book on his Go-Go Offense in 2019 which is a hot commodity for coaches around the nation (including the NFL). This seems like the most “dream come true” hire. His phone will be blowing up even more after the MWC title game between his UNLV Rebels and the Boise State Broncos.
2. Scotty Walden - I wasn’t sold on Walden at first, until I came across multiple shouts of support online and in podcasts. He’s the youngest candidate of them all but he does have Division 1 head coaching experience. He’s broken numerous school records in his previous stints at ETBU and Sul Ross, which catapulted him to Southern Miss. His progress along with his ties to Texas make him an intriguing candidate for numerous schools.
3. Kenny Perry - Coach Perry is Texan through and through. He’s had coaching success from High School all the way to college but hasn’t had that main role just yet and is deserving of a shot. His passion for football is well rounded as his coaching experience shows success in the numerous positions he’s led the way in. If I could make a comparison, he’s a Swiss Army knife. He can do it all and everybody loves having him around.
4. Eric Price - Eric Price is a QB guru who helped pave the way for Jordan Palmer and a young Trevor Vittatoe during his time at UTEP. He’s the most familiar name of all candidates mentioned and has the strongest NFL connections as well. The offense would appear be fun to watch under Price and he’d be likely to bring along solid help coordinator wise. On the flip side, he’s the only coach of all the candidates who has been out of college football recently.