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Rebirth of the Miners: how the athletic program is working towards success

Paydirt Pete

The UTEP football team begins its spring practice next week.

The team is rebuilding. Those in charge hope a positive attitude helps the Miners start winning games and win back fans.

UTEP’s new athletic director, Jim Senter, spoke to CBS4 about his philosophy.

“I talk all the time about how I want, we want, UTEP Athletics to compete for, and even win championships,” Senter said. “Everybody kind of says, ‘Yeah, well that’s a given. That’s what you’re supposed to be doing.’ At the end of the day, how you go about that is where the secret sauce is at.”

Senter also expressed, how much he would love for UTEP Athletics to match the stature of, what he thinks, is a great institution. He hopes the community buys into his vision of positive energy.

“There are enough people in the city of El Paso, and the community of Juarez, for us to fill every venue that we have, as long as there are enough people who are willing to make a positive difference for UTEP Athletics,” Senter said.

We all know how we got here.

UTEP Football just had one of its worst seasons since 1973, going 0-12 for during the 2017 year.

“Obviously, the players are going to feed off the attitude that you have, and I know that they need a positive leadership vibe right now,” head coach Dana Dimel said. “It's going to be really important to the players on the team to have that.”

UTEP Football’s new head coach told CBS4 a little about his plans, after bringing in his first recruiting class.

“We really want to build for the future,” Dimel said. “That's the most important thing that you do. But you can't neglect the now. Because we want to be the best team we can be next year.”

Dimel moved from Kansas State in December. He only had a few short months to hire staff, and recruit a football team.

To help, they turned to their smartphones.

"That's what kids are all about right now,” Dimel said. “It's so important to them. That's how you communicate. It's just like the telephone used to be for us, now, it's social media.”

They believe Twitter had the power to do more, than just sign prospective players.

“The next generation of fans is living on their mobile platform,” Senter said. “That's where we have to cultivate a new space. We know that the next generation of donors and season ticket holders are in that space. So we've got to give them content. We've got to bring them behind the curtain so they can see what this thing is all about.”

Longtime Miners supporter Maynard Haddad is liking what he’s seeing so far.

“Course, they think I know something,” Haddad said. “It looks like the administration has stepped up, because we’ve hired some heavy duty guys, and that takes heavy duty money, so I want to thank them for that.”

Haddad also called those "heavy duty guys," with the level they’re at, “impressive as hell.”

Dimel said people are really behind what they’re doing.

“I can really sense that,” Dimel said. “And you know that as a coach. And you know how genuine people are. And you know that they really are feeling we're doing the right things."

UTEP fans said all the hype won’t mean a thing unless the football team starts winning.

Senter said he has expectations that they’ll compete for -- and win -- football games this year.

“We weren't very competitive last year,” Senter said. “We’ll be really competitive this next year. We're going to win the games we should win.”

According to Senter, they can’t do it without the fans.

“Truth is, we need them to follow us on social media,” Senter said. “We need them to engage with us in a positive manner. We need them to buy tickets, season tickets, be a donor. Anything that they can do. Every act that they participate in, if its positive, will be a difference for our program.”

The Miners open the season Sept. 1 against Northern Arizona. But if you can’t wait until then for UTEP Football, join CBS4 for a special town hall with our sister station KFOX14, on March 20 at 6 p.m.

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