Random thoughts on Mike Price's future as UTEP's football coach:
I'm not buying the school's line, or what Price said, "We will meet on (Natalicio's) schedule, so until then I can't really say anything."
He's talking about school Prez Diana Natalicio, AD Bob Stull and himself sitting down to discuss his future after yet another losing season. He has one year remaining on his contract.
In other words retaining or buying out a Division I-A football coach is relegated to Natalicio's schedule? No way! It's too important than that. Athletics is a multi-million-dollar operation at UTEP, albeit not as "multi-million" as many other Division 1 schools. Natalicio has always been well in tune with what UTEP athletics means to El Paso.
Probably, this is an attorney thing, not finding an opening in Natalicio's sked. Price's attorney talking to UTEP's attorneys. Price has a year left. UTEP doesn't have much Athletic Department money due to low ticket buying for home games the past few years.
And you can bet Natalicio doesn't want to dip into the general fund.
I'm betting the parties are trying to work a deal, otherwise it would have already been announced that Price is returning. Or he would have said he's retiring.
Here's why I think he might want to return:
His overall coaching record at Weber State, Washington State and UTEP is 174-174. He looks to have a better team coming back in 2012 than this year's 5-7 outfit. He could go out a winner. Obviously any coach wants to go out a winner. He's 65, but certainly still has a lively step.
On the other side, here's why I think he might be willing to cut a deal:
If you're not wanted, well? What kind of life do you live at a place you're not wanted?
And perhaps the wait is not on Natalicio, but on coming up with some buyout money? From boosters? What boosters?
Also, I think this is BIG! I don't think Price is going to put up a fuss if he's fired, as did some other departing coaches. He remembers UTEP gave him a job when he was a pariah after being fired at Alabama before he even coached a game there. He's a class guy. He owes UTEP for having given him a job.
Bottom line: Price remains popular and is a great ambassador for UTEP in the El Paso community and elsewhere. But when you can't sell football tickets, then there's a major money problem for all the sports. Usually that means you join many of your UTEP ancestors up on Got The Boot Hill.
I think the only thing that will keep Price here is if he demands the money due him, and if UTEP can't raise that money. I don't think he'll do that. That would certainly set up a sour atmosphere, even if neither Price nor UTEP go public on that having happened.
Me? I'd like to see Mike Price stay one more year. If he's a bad coach, then how could UTEP have hired so many, many, many bad coaches in a row?
And, no, UTEP can't hire Mike Leach to replace Price. Reports just today are that Leach has agreed to be the new head coach at Price's old school, Washington State.