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UTEP Football provides update on 2020 season, plans on having fans in season opener

Football+head+coach+Dana+Dimel+leads+his+team+down+the+Mine+Shaft+during+pre-game.+
Gaby Velasquez
Football head coach Dana Dimel leads his team down the Mine Shaft during pre-game.

Uncertainty is the best way to sum up the world of college football in one word at the moment. As for the UTEP football program it is trying to move past uncertainty and start the 2020 football season as planned before the current pandemic sent college athletics into a limbo. 

UTEP Athletic director Jim Senter and football head coach Dana Dimel addressed the media via a zoom call Thursday afternoon to provide an insight on where the program sits as far as schedule changes, dealing with COVID-19 cases, and more. 

In what was a scheduled 12 game scheduled slated to open at the Sun Bowl on September 5 against Tech Texas has now been reduced to a nine-game season with non-conference games against Tech, Nevada, and New Mexico State being axed. 

 Losing a scheduled game with rivals New Mexico State (NMSU) is a tough wrench for the season as the rivalry games is a trademark for both team’s yearly schedules. NMSU postponed its football season due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19 

“We are very upset we lost  New Mexico State it’s a great game for the community and the city of El Paso and there is a mutual respect between both programs,” Dimel said. 

Conferences across college football have canceled or postponed fall season such as the Pac-12 and Big Ten. 

Replacing those nonconference matchup’s is a focus right now to fill a 12-game schedule as Senter brought up viable options in opponents from the Southland Conference and independent programs. 

“Talking to no less than eight or nine athletic directors right now and trying to figure out games for us and there’s still a lot of unknown’s,” Senter said.” 

The Miners matchup against Texas which was planned to take place Sept. 19 has now been moved to Sept. 12 and is benefitable game for the program financially as a large payout would come for the program. 

Appreciate that UT (University of Texas) has played us and moved from Sept. 19 to Sept. 12 and it’s a significant payday for us and it has a significant impact on us budget,” Senter said. 

Due to the current pandemic restrictions on capacity have been implemented when it comes to gatherings of large crowds. Senter made it clear that there will be fans in the home opener and health and safety protocols such as face-coverings and social distancing will be enforced when fans attend the Sun Bowl. 

“We are fully intending on having fans at our games and we want to follow the guidelines outlined by the Governor and the city officials of El Paso and make sure fans follow social distancing and wearing masks,” Senter said. 

Preparations for the season opener for the Miners faced a bump in the road this past week as four players tested positive for COVID-19 postponing fall camp and the team has since retested on Aug. 13. The team is preparing to practice Aug. 15 granted there are no more positive cases. 

With the season slated to begin Sept. 12 unless the program schedules a Sept. 5 matchup the team is preparing for a Texas team that is rich in tradition and success. The Longhorns are led by Heisman hopeful and senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger and will be an exceptional test for the Miners heading into Austin, Texas. 

“We’re glad that Texas worked out and that’s great opportunity for us and it’s a team that I am very familiar with as an offense coordinator during my time at K-State as an offensive coordinator,” Dimel said. “We are studying film as we speak, we are looking at Texas that is our full priority right now and other teams we might possibly play,” 

There is a lot of elements of the upcoming football season that are up in the air but as far as controlling what they can control as a program which is making sure schemes and players are prepared physically that is not uncertain for the Miners.  

“At this stage we are in the first week of fall preparations and we focusing on our own players and not what is out of the realm,” Dimel said. 

Isaiah Ramirez may be reached at Prospector @UTEP.edu 

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About the Contributors
Isaiah Ramirez is a senior multimedia journalism major at the University of Texas at El Paso. Isaiah has worked for the university’s paper The Prospector since Spring 2018 and has held the position as a sports editor and is currently a reporter at the publication. During the fall semesters he also works as an on-air reporter for Football Friday Nights a weekly radio show showcasing local football games broadcasted by 600 ESPN El Paso. He covers local news as well as local and UTEP sporting events such as football, men’s and women’s basketball, and has covered the annual Hyundai Sun Bowl game and two-time NBA champion Danny Green’s basketball camp here in the Sun City.
Gaby Velasquez, Photo editor
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UTEP Football provides update on 2020 season, plans on having fans in season opener