The Sound of Silence – UTEP Miners Football Quietly Rehabs and Rebuilds

By Mark S. McDonald, undocumented railbird

Nothing pleases a college football coaching staff more than a forgettable summer. Yes, this is when they reintroduce themselves to their wives and kids and take a few days off for family vacation.

Last thing any program needs is transfers out, players on the police blotter, flunk-outs, injuries or a car wreck. If you haven’t heard much out of UTEP football recently, be happy. No news is good news.

thNowhere is the “Quiet Please” sign more in evidence than at UTEP, where the Miners look to recover from a 1-23 record the past two seasons. Between now and early August when the team buses two hours to Ruidoso, N.M. for training camp, s-s-s-s-hhhh. Hold it down. And, please, no reporters or cameras.

 As prescribed by Dr. Dana Dimel, our favorite team is in full rehab mode with regular doses of summer-school classes, lifting weights, running and chilling.

Good News Dept.:

  • Senior quarterback Kai Locksley is getting his pins back under him after mid-season leg troubles.
  • Center Derron Gatewood, going into his sixth season — yes, sixth, thanks to an injury exemption from the NCAA — has two good wheels now and is learning to take orders from his new wife, Raylee. Contrary to rumor, Gatewood did not come to Texas School of Mines from Odessa Permian, with his own leather helmet.

    Haddad and Senter
    Nobody has more fun at football games than UTEP Miners fans. Just behind Kidd Field next to the Sun Bowl, here’s Athletic Director Jim Senter in a necktie aside legendary local grump Maynard Haddad, a story in himself. And this was after a defeat. Imagine what will happen when we start winning. These tailgate events for 40-plus years have featured the considerable presence of Richard Fritz. No more. Fritz died recently, at age 81.
  • A few freshmen will report in 10 days, to start their first courses at UTEP. Newbies pin this on your locker: “If you stay, you play.” It is true now, and always.
  • Coaches combed the country in April and May, searching for a grad transfer or two who might come and play, pronto. Miners could make immediate room for a linebacker, a defensive back and/or a knuckle-dragging offensive lineman. In a week or two, we will know whether the anglers caught a big fish.
  • Optimism abounds for the arrival of new University President Heather Wilson. My spies whisper that she understands the benefits a strong athletic program can bring to the UTEP brand.
  • The Durham Center now serves as a chow hall. Four days a week, for the first time in years, football players are taking meals together and on campus. A family that breaks bread together … awww, you know the rest.

{A refuge who escaped starvation while variously serving on the sports staff of five Texas daily newspapers, McDonald is a UTEP grad and a two-year starter in football. His most recent non-fiction book covers the 1969 Shootout, the historical matchup between Arkansas and Texas for the national football championship, set against the backdrop of chaos in America — race riots, assassinations, Vietnam, Motown music, The Pill et al. His 343-page “coffee-table” book ($35 includes tax, S&H) contains 100-plus photos and original cartoons by award-winning Bill DeOre. For more information, or to order with the convenience of credit card, visit <BeyondTheShootout.com>.}

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