EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- With Dana Dimel now officially out as the head coach of the UTEP football program, the rumor mill begins to swirl as to who will be his replacement and become the 27th coach in program history.
There's no obvious replacement but here are some candidates who could fit in quite nicely with the program either because of their local ties or because they bring that winning mentality and proven success.
These are all just educated guesses at to who could fill that void. The Miners will need to lock someone down quickly to start recruiting the next class and to keep players from transferring.
COACHES WITH CONNECTIONS TO UTEP OR EL PASO
TONY WHITE (44) - Defensive Coordinator at Nebraska
White Is a Burges High School Grad and played college football at UCLA at the recommendation of El Paso sports legend, Ed Stansbury. He briefly played pro football but has been coaching since 2006, his first coaching job with a Division 1 school was in 2008 at New Mexico as the Linebackers coach. Since then he has coached at ASU, Syracuse and San Diego State. Earlier this week, Nebraska Head Coach Matt Rhule endorsed him to be a head coach. It's reported White has received interest from Power 5 schools so maybe he's already surpassed the likes of UTEP but if they could find the money and snag him, it could be a massive step forward for the program. White has never been a head coach of a college program.
MACK LEFTWICH (29) - Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach at Texas State
Leftwich was named on Dave Campbell’s Texas Football “40 under 40” list this year. He's helped lead Texas State to a 7-5 season. If Leftwich took the job, he would be returning to his alma mater where he played quarterback from 2013-2016 and where is Dad also coached. Leftwich is young in the world of coaching with only seven years of experience, but with success at every place he's gone UTEP might consider taking a chance on a homegrown guy looking to prove himself at the next level. Leftwich has never been a head coach of a college program.
JEFF BANKS (48) - Assistant head coach and special teams coordinator / TE coach at UT
Coached at UTEP from 2004 to 2012 as the running backs coach and special teams coordinator.
He has been coaching in college football since 1999. Spent four years at Texas A&M, in 2017 was
the interim head coach. Also spent two years on staff at Alabama before he moved to Texas in 2021. Other than that one year as interim head coach, he has never been a head coach of a college football program. He's been at all the big programs and would bring a wealth of experience and this could be a great opportunity to be in his first head coaching role.
JEFF GRIMES (55) - Baylor Offensive Coordinator
Grimes was fired from Baylor on Sunday after the team went 3-9. He has almost 30 years of coaching experience but has never been a head coach. Grimes played at UTEP and started his coaching career at Riverside.
TONY SANCHEZ (49) - Wide Receivers Coach at NMSU
Sanchez likes living in the Borderland. He played at NMSU and has spent 7 years out of his 25 years in coaching in either Las Cruces or El Paso. He coached at Organ Mountain HS + Irvin HS and is now at NMSU. He was the head coach at UNLV from 2015-19 before getting fired. He never took the team to a bowl game and had an overall record of 20-40 in his five years. Since then he has spent time at TCU and now NMSU. Maybe he would be ready to get back into a head coaching role in a place he is familiar with and do things differently.
TIM BECK (59) - Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator at NMSU.
Coached at Pittsburgh State since the late 1980s until 2019, was the head coach from 2010-19. In 2011 they won a D2 National Championship. In 2021 he was an offensive analyst at TCU and moved with Kill to NMSU. He is currently leading the Aggies to their best season in 63 years, including an SEC win over Auburn.
ROBERT RODRIGUEZ (41) - Outside Linebackers coach at the Arizona Caridnals
Rodriguez was born in El Paso, played at Montwood and then at UTEP. His first coaching gig was also with the Miners back in 2008 as an assistant, from 2010-2014 he was a Linebackers coach. Since his time at UTEP he's coached at Arizona State, the Minnesota Vikings and now the Cardinals. Rodriguez has never been a head coach or coordinator at any level but maybe he's ready to take on that role and do it in his hometown.
COACHES WITH NO AFFILIATION TO THE BORDERLAND
TIM BANKS (51) - Defensive Coordinator and Safeties coach at Tennessee. Has never been a head coach. Has been coaching since 1997. Been a defensive coordinator since 2007 at Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Illinois, Penn State and now Tennessee.
BRENNAN MARION (36) - UNLV Offensive Coordinator. He has helped resurrect the Rebel's offense this season so much so that they're playing in the Mountain West title game. Miner fans got to witness it first hand when the Rebels beat them 45-28 earlier in the season. He's been coaching since 2011 with stops at Howard, William & Mary, Hawaii, Pittsburgh and Texas. He's never been the head coach of a college program.
JASON ECK (46) - Head Coach at Idaho. While he doesn't have any connections to the Borderland his path has surely crossed with UTEP Athletic Director Jim Senter during both of their times in Idaho. Eck has been coaching since 1999, but the Vandals is his first head coaching job. In both of his seasons at the helm he's taken the team to the FCS playoffs. Eck has become accustomed to producing a winning team with very little.
BUSH HAMDAN (37) - Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback coach at Boise State. Has never been a head coach. Has been coaching since 2009 and is in the running for the Boise State Head Coach job. He coached the Quarterbacks for the Atlanta Falcons in 2017, otherwise has spent his time in colleges including at Washington and Missouri.
JEFF CHOATE (53) - Co-Defensive Coordinator + Inside Linebacker coach at Texas. Previously was Head Coach at Montana State from 2016 - 2020 where he had an overall record of 28-22. Has been coaching since 1992.
ZACH ARNETT (37) - Was just fired from Mississippi State. Born and raised in ABQ and played at UNM so would be moving back closer to home. Has been coaching since 2013. Has only coached San Diego State and Mississippi State. He was interim HC there for one game in 2022, and head coach in 2023 went 4-6, was fired with two games left in the season.