UTEP Coach Dana Dimel ‘Disappointed’ in North Texas’ Decision to Postpone Game
Following North Texas' decision to postpone Saturday's game against UTEP due to the rising COVID-19 cases in El Paso, Miners football head coach Dana Dimel voiced his frustrations with UNT's choice, echoing sentiments that President Dr. Heather Wilson said in a statement on Tuesday.
The plan is to have the game rescheduled near the end of the season, likely Dec. 5 or Dec. 12.
"I am disappointed because we wanted to play them," Dimel said following the team's second postponement so far. "We haven't played at home in so long. There just seems to be too much latitude for people to pull out of ball games. I get what's going on and the concern, I really do. We try to provide a safe element we can provide for a university and no fans, just get in the air, fly in and stay at the hotel. As safe as we can make it. There's a lot of disappointment with us not being able to play the game."
No UTEP player has tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the season.
El Paso reported 854 new COVID-19 cases and 13,653 active cases on Wednesday. Health officials are suggesting that the surge comes as a result of family gatherings, multiple ages living in the household and younger people going out.
North Texas did provide an alternative to this weekend, however. Dimel confirmed reports last night that UNT offered a chance for the Miners to play in Denton this weekend. The thought of playing four consecutive road games was something UTEP didn't want to do.
"They offered us a chance to play up there and obviously with three road games in a row, I didn't want to go four road games in a row," Dimel added. "There's the cost element of it too. Fly up there, getting a plane on short notice; getting a hotel room on short notice; wasn't a lot of motivation for us to go and lose a home game. I never considered that an option even though it was out there."
With the game being postponed, the team did not practice on Wednesday and ran through basic walkthroughs. The team will now turn their focus toward next week against Florida International (Nov. 7) at the Sun Bowl.
If the Miners play FIU as scheduled, it would be their first home game since Sept. 19 against Abilene Christian. The Panthers (0-3) postponed their game this week against Marshall due to rising COVID-19 cases within their program.
"I feel very comfortable that we are playing FIU next weekend. I don't see it happening over and over again," Dimel explained.
"I really feel like [FIU] has had positives, opt-outs and injuries and I feel like they needed the time to get everything together during the Marshall week and be able to play us next week," Dimel said. "They just needed that time to recover.
Dimel's final plea seems simple, yet reasonable and necessary for C-USA, including possible forfeiture for a team that isn't able to reschedule a game.
"I want stronger parameters set," Dimel said. "The other thing I want to push for is that if these teams don't come play us in December, they should forfeit these games. You can't just keep not playing a team. You got to play. If they choose not to play in December, there should be a type of forfeit involved and that's my opinion but I think it gives validity to the whole situation."
The Miners will return to a full day of practice on Thursday, Oct. 29.