UTEP Stewpot of Testosterone — Or, Miners Hall and 20 Tips for Mass Mayhem on a Tight Budget (June 2019)

By Mark S. McDonald, certified self-appointed (and anointed) railbird

These days, Miners Hall sleeps in relative tranquility. Oh, but there was a time when the grand old monument to madness housed approximately 100 UTEP football players. Which left the storied old jock dorm two lunatics shy of asylum status.

Guns … alcohol … weed … bowling on the second floor … darts-throwing contests … free-style archery … midnight throw-downs … Four Tops Motown sounds mixed with Merle Haggard’s early twang … We shared toilets, showers, meals, blood, locker rooms, dreams and parole officers.

Miners Hall was the stewpot of testosterone where 18-year-olds away from home the first time discovered Juarez and the penicillin cure from trainer Ross Moore. This is where your heroes played a vicious card game from Satan called “bourre” (BOO-ray), started water-fights in the hallways, and used the first-floor dining hall to plot nefarious deeds.

Miners Hall, in the 1960s and ‘70s, was a screenplay, just waiting to happen. Think “Semi-Tough” or “Animal House” with a brawny cast that would rather rumble than memorize their lines.

In this grand era, the Miners were winning national titles in basketball and track and field, beating an SEC team in a bowl game. Soon after, we were playing .500 ball against the likes of Arizona, Utah, Arizona State and BYU. Not even the late jokester Dan Jenkins could capture the whole story, so to pick up the details, enter Scott DeSha.

Don’t blame linebacker Scott DeShea. By the time he arrived from San Antonio and moved into Miners Hall in 1969, dorm mischief had a deep and colorful history at UTEP.

A linebacker out of San Antonio, Scott was (is) suitably nutso for the position and his place in time, a man capable of supplying what he calls “Fun Things to Do as a Flying Miner on $15 a Month Laundry Money”:

{Editor’s note: The following has been edited, to protect the innocent. Any reader who qualifies for a library card is excused from this exercise.}

  1.  Removing the microphone in the mouthpiece of a telephone so whoever they were talking to would hang up because of no response.

  2.  Trashcan of water, leaned against the door. After a few knocks, the visitor would enter and — surfs up!

  3.  Shaving cream on the pay telephone, for an earful.

  4.  Refrigerator, placed on roof of Miners Hall.

  5.  Tying rope from doorknob to doorknob across the hall, no exit. Dancing Bear blasting his way out.

  6.  Adding sauce to a keg party on The Levee, by throwing a Bandido gang member’s motorcycle into the Rio Grande.

  7.  Getting paid to take out recruits — and spending their money. Recruits asked about animal acts. Something about a donkey?

  8.  Shooting bottle rockets from the 2nd floor to unsuspecting victims below.

  9.  Getting steak dinners for interceptions or fumble recoveries. Going to an upscale local restaurant in our grey T-shirts and bell-bottom jeans.

  10. El Paso hangouts — Rathskeller, Village Inn and Jim’s Lounge.

  11. Juarez hangouts — the legendary bar at the Kentucky Club and ham sandwiches at Fred’s Rainbow Bar.

  12. Using a hammer to tap centavos into the shape of U.S. coins, for local pay phones. All in the name of financial relief.

  13. Finding out which teammates would be gone for the weekend. This meant you could use their check-in number at the main dining hall, to eat twice.

  14. Hanging Tree Trunk by his ankles out the window of the 7th floor.

  15. Getting an officer to sign us minors in at the Fort Bliss Officer’s Club.

  16. Watching bullfights, rodeos and greyhound racing in Mexico.

  17. Staying dressed for bed check, intercom announcement that the coast was clear, starting a mad dash to our cars after curfew.

  18. Running “high sides” in the Sun Bowl for punishment of certain behavior.

  19. At Kidd Field, gagging on clouds of sulfur from the Asarco plant.

  20. Coach Bobby Dobbs taping Jeff White’s facemask to the front of his jersey, so he wouldn’t look up during field goals and extra points.

{DeSha and his colorful playmates – Eddie Hochuli, Scott Walker, Brooks West, Tony Perea et al. — contributed to a spirited defense and a lively college experience. Valued teammates all. Just don’t tell them I said so. — McD}

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