Thanks to Duke Keith for the video below, where UTEP defensive coordinator tells Fox Sports that Miner fans "don't know who they have" in Coach Price. Patterson's full statement was:
"I sit around and go you gotta be kidding me. All these years of not winning, and you have a man here that has taken this program to three bowl games and have won championships. And you don't respect what you have? I don't get it. I just don't get it."
I think Patterson is alluding to the Miner fan mindset that Asalom touched on last week. There is no doubt that there is growing discontent among the Miner Nation with the state of the UTEP football program. While there have always been El Pasoan's that are simply negative when discussing UTEP, slipping attendance shows that even the more than casual Miner fans are starting to lose interest in the team.
It's important to remember that Coach Price has had more success at UTEP than any other coach in the program's history. But, he has also had his fair share of agonizing losses. It seems that every year UTEP finds a new way to lose at least one game they appeared to have in the bag. So while UTEP fans should respect Mike Price for what he's done for the UTEP program. That doesn't mean he should be immune from criticism when its deserved.
You will never see a post from me asking UTEP to fire Mike Price. I can't bring myself to do that because I remember all those 2--10 or 4 win seasons we sat through in the 1990's. The stink of Gary Nord's 4, I mean 5, I mean 6 year plan to rebuild the Miner program still lingers. It could be worse. It could be a lot worse.
But, I do like that some Miner fans are expecting more out of this program. I think the Miner Nation had every right to question Price's competence during the Marshall game last year. Or the Rice game the year before. When the Miners took the first half off in last year's New Mexico Bowl, I think it was fair to question the teams preparation. UTEP's stunning track record of late season collapses has been rightfully maddening to the Miner Nation.
Last season, I wrote a post called "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly: A Look at the Mike Price Era at UTEP." There, I touched on the team's inability to win games in the second half of the season since 2006. Read this below:
Consistent Late Season Collapes: I already touched on 2005. But, in 2006 the Miners lost 5 of their last 6. In 2007, the Miners lost 6 straight to end the season. in 2008, the Miners lost 4 of their last 6., In 2009, the Miners lost 4 of their last 5.
The late season collapses might be my second biggest gripe against Coach Price behind the absolutely stunning fact that UTEP hasn't won a Conference USA road game since October 4, 2008. It's not like playing at Rice or at Tulane is like traveling to The Swamp or the Horseshoe.
Just because he's had more success than Gary Nord or Charlie Bailey doesn't mean we shouldn't still hold him accountable when he does have a bad day. And let's not kid ourselves, he has had some very bad days.
I agree with Coach Patterson that the Miner Nation should "respect" what Mike Price has done for the UTEP football program. I think any reasonable Miner fan knows what three bowl berths means to the program. But, that doesn't mean Miner fans should give him a free pass when he lets winnable games slip away, or when his team isn't prepared for road games.
Whether Coach Price and Coach Patterson want to admit it, the recent success of the team has led to higher expectations from Miner fans. That's a good thing. We aren't expecting C-USA Championships this year with Houston, UCF, and Tulsa looking like they do. But, we are expecting the very best from this coaching staff. We are expecting a team that is competitive and fights hard in every game. We are expecting a team that loses not because of incompetent leadership but because the other team has more talent or makes more plays down the stretch.
I was at the SMU game last night and I can tell you. UTEP battled hard through injuries. The turnovers were killers, but I was proud of the way the Miners fought through adversity Here's hoping we continue to see this team fight like that. If we do, I don't think Coach Patterson will have to call out Miner fans anymore.
For the latest UTEP Miner news, follow Miner Rush of Twitter.