EL PASO, Texas -- The UTEP Miners are rolling this year, off to a 5-and-1 start and just one win away from bowl eligibility.
Now, the push is on from UTEP to score a big crowd for Saturday night's football game against Louisiana Tech.
"The UTEP fanbase has been damaged and I am not talking about this season or previous years, the UTEP fanbase has been damaged from decades of what we have seen," said sportstalk radio host Steve Kaplowitz of 600 ESPN.
He's not mincing words, saying decades of sub-par football teams, have left Miner fans with a sour taste in their mouths. Kaplowitz told ABC-7 it's not enough to win this year, the school needs a revamp.
"I think even UTEP realizes right now that it is going to take time and what they need to do is keep winning. That is important, but they also have to try to build something and not just make this a one year deal because otherwise you'll lose them just as quickly as you get them back," he observed.
The Sun Bowl is a jewel of the southwest, carved into a mountain and seating more than 46,000 people. The last time it saw anywhere near that number of fans in the stands was the annual Sun Bowl game on December 31, 2019, when a crowd of more than 42,000 showed up.
The last time the Miners were at home two weeks ago for their homecoming game, they barely reached 11,000 in the stands as they beat Old Dominion.
The university is offering incentives to pack the Sun Bowl this Saturday evening, such as free cash by partnering with Speaking Rock Casino. They're also offering a cheap meal combo for a hot dog, a soft drink and chips for just $5.