UTEP Football Coach Mike Price Announces Retirement
Nov. 19, 2012
UTEP's Mike Price, the sixth-winningest active coach in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), announced his retirement in a press conference on Monday at the Larry K. Durham Sports Center.
Price is the second-winningest coach in UTEP football history with 48 victories, trailing only Mack Saxon (66). Price will be coaching in his 109th game at UTEP on Saturday when the Miners close out the season at home against Rice (5 p.m. MT). Only Saxon has coached more games at UTEP (118).
UTEP Athletic Department officials announced that Saturday will be "Coach Mike Price Appreciation Day," with the first 20,000 fans receiving commemorative tickets.
"I'm very thankful to President Natalicio for giving us this opportunity," Price said. "It has been the chance of a lifetime. I am very appreciative of the loyal support by Director of Athletics Bob Stull. I can't thank him enough for his patience and support. This is my last year of coaching. It is great go out with this group of fine student-athletes and coaches. Although I didn't go to school here, I'm a Miner. Joyce and I are proud to be El Pasoans."
"We can't thank Mike enough for all he has given our university and the El Paso community over the last nine years," UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio said. "Mike's contributions, however, extend far beyond increasing the national awareness and level of competitiveness in our football program. He has been a tremendous ambassador for UTEP and won over the entire city through his kind-heartedness, sincerity and sense of humor. We wish Mike the best as he begins a new chapter of his life."
"Mike and Joyce Price have been tremendous assets to UTEP and the El Paso community," UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull said. "Mike has brought a level of national attention and respect to UTEP that only an elite coach could bring. He has certainly raised the bar of expectations for our football program. While Mike's coaching accolades are extensive, his greatest value has come in the warmth and love that he has shown for the people of El Paso. He has consistently gone out of his way to interact with the community through speaking engagements, community service and the like. We have been so fortunate and grateful to call Mike Price our coach for the last nine years."
Price has posted 177 wins in a 31-year head coaching career. He was 46-44 at Weber State (1981-88), 83-78 at Washington State (1989-2002) and is 48-60 at UTEP (2004-present).
Only Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer (256 victories), Texas' Mack Brown (235), Nevada's Chris Ault (233), South Carolina's Steve Spurrier (206) and Notre Dame's Brian Kelly (198) have more wins among active FBS coaches.
The 1997 National Coach of the Year, Price has directed eight teams to bowls. He joins Mike Brumbelow as the only coaches to lead the Miners to three bowl games. UTEP played in the EV1.net Houston Bowl in 2004, the GMAC Bowl in 2005 and the New Mexico Bowl in 2010.
The Miners have had more 30-point games (56), 40-point games (24) and 50-point games (six) under Price than any coach in school history.
The Price era has produced UTEP's all-time leader for passing yards (Trevor Vittatoe), total offense (Vittatoe), receiving yards (Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jr.), all-purpose yards (Howard Jackson) and the single-season rushing champion (Donald Buckram).
Price has also coached three All-Americans and 47 All-Conference players during his nine-year stint with the Miners. Seven UTEP players have been selected in the NFL Draft during the Price regime, and numerous others have signed NFL free agent contracts.
In his first two seasons at UTEP (2004-05), Price led the Miners to national rankings and back-to-back eight-win campaigns. UTEP received the only BCS ranking in school history in 2004. Price was a finalist for numerous national coach of the year awards in 2004, including the Eddie Robinson Award and the Paul "Bear" Bryant Award. He was tabbed the Region 4 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), and was named the first-year coach of the year by Scripps and the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). In 2005, UTEP set a school record for attendance average (47,899) in the 52,000-seat Sun Bowl.
Price's 2009 squad upset 12th-ranked Houston in the Sun Bowl, 58-41, for its first victory over a ranked opponent in 12 years. The Miners were named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week following their win over the Cougars and Buckram, who rushed for 262 yards in the game, was appointed the Walter Camp Football Foundation National Offensive Player of the Week.
In 31 seasons prior to Price's arrival (1973-2003), the Miners averaged 2.6 wins per year with four years of five or more victories. UTEP has averaged 5.3 wins under Price with six years of five or more victories.
During his time at Washington State (1989-2002), Price led the Cougars to three 10-win seasons and five bowl appearances with two Rose Bowl berths (1998 & 2002). Price was the 1997 National Coach of the year and was one of three finalists for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Award in 2001. During his 14 years at Washington State, Price coached five players who were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.
He previously was an assistant coach at Washington State (1969-70 & 1974-77), Missouri (1978-80) and Puget Sound (1971-73). He played collegiately at Washington State (1965-66) and Puget Sound (1967-68), seeing time at quarterback and defensive back.