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Volume 2, Issue 1                            University of Houston

Max Lacayo/Breaking News

New UH head football coach Dana Dimel promises to turn the Houston Cougars into a consistently winning football program.

Dimel to 'crank' things up as UH's new football coach

By Jason Caesar Consolacion
Staff Writer

New UH head football coach Dana Dimel promised to bring glory back to the Cougar football program at his introduction to the UH community Monday.

Dimel, who was announced as UH's ninth head coach Sunday, was formally introduced by President Arthur K. Smith and Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk at a press conference in the Athletics/Alumni Center.

"The leadership of the football program is in the hands of somebody that cares deeply about the tradition and the roots that are instilled into the University of Houston," Dimel said. "My job is to carry that on and to bring it back to the highest of its glory days that it had at one time."

Dimel agreed to a five-year, $600,000-per-year deal, plus bonuses and incentives. Half of the deal will come from a base salary of $300,000, with the other $300,000 coming from apparel sales, football camps and radio, television and personal appearances.

Dimel will also be compensated based on the team’s graduation rates, grade point averages, bowl appearances, top 25 rankings and Conference USA rankings.

UH will pay $200,000 to Wyoming for the remaining two years on Dimel's contract. This is in addition to the $600,000 UH owes Kim Helton, Dimel’s predecessor, for the final two years on his contract. Helton led the Cougars to a 7-4 record in his final season.

Dimel, the former offensive lineman for Kansas State, has been the head football coach at the University of Wyoming for the past three years. He compiled a 23-12 record from 1997 to 1999, going 7-4 this season.

"I believe our community will truly enjoy the incredible enthusiasm Dana brings to Houston," Gladchuk said. "As a proven Division I-A head coach who has enjoyed unquestioned success at Wyoming, I believe we can expect to win at Houston, both in the classroom and on the playing field."

Dimel got his start as an offensive line coach, then as an offensive coordinator under Bill Snyder at Kansas State University. He assisted Snyder in coaching "the biggest turnaround in college sports" — the Kansas State Wildcats.

He was hired for his first job as a head coach at the University of Wyoming, where he became the coach with the second most wins in the past three years of college football.

Dimel's plan for Houston is to begin recruiting exclusively in Texas. Questions regarding whether the Kansas State alum is capable of delivering Texas recruits are answered by his track record: Dimel had 18 players from Texas on this year’s Wyoming roster.

"The main thing that I want to do is recruit Texas," Dimel said. "If I can get 18 players on my ball club from Texas to come up to Laramie, Wyo., I don't see why I can't get Texas players to come here."

Dimel, 37, is expected to lead the Cougars to winning right away. With his youth, he believes he can relate to the players closely, enabling him to instill the confidence that it takes to win.

"I think the youth that I have is definitely a positive for me because of energy and because I can relate to these kids and understand what’s going through their minds and understand what motivates them," Dimel said. "To me, motivation is a key ingredient in getting the most out of your players."

Dimel is prepared to make major changes within the football team — not only on the field, but also in personnel.

"We’re going to hire an offensive coordinator from Nevada-Reno," he said. "That school has been the most prolific passing offense in the country over the last five years. They’ve had quarterbacks throw for 4,000 yards within the system."

Dimel also plans to bring back key components from the Cougars' glory days.

"I visited with (former UH quarterback and 1989 Heisman Trophy winner) Andre Ware (Monday) morning, and I believe that he is going to join our staff," Dimel said. "Since we're using his hardware (Ware’s 1989 Heisman Trophy) as a tool for recruiting, I thought it was only fitting that he be a part of what we're going to do.

"Nothing official has been made of that," Dimel said, "but he said I could mention (Monday) that he is leaning toward being a part of this."

The players have expressed their excitement in Dimel’s hiring, especially quarterback Jason McKinley, who will be a senior next year.

"He's going to improve our discipline, he’s going to improve our work ethic, and I think the team is really excited about it," McKinley said. "We haven't even left for Christmas yet, and I think everybody's already excited about getting back and working."

McKinley will be expected to lead an offense that will feature him as its main focus. Dimel's offensive scheme at Wyoming was one that included a lot of passing, and Dimel expects McKinley to adjust.

"Jason's a great quarterback and a great kid," Dimel said. "He's going to be able to do what we’re going to ask him to do. He's going to have to. We’re not going to accept losing. We're going to expect to win, and Jason's going to lead us in that direction."

"He seems really positive," McKinley said. "He wants to throw the ball, he wants to pressure (opponents) on defense. It's going to be a real exciting game. It's going to be a game that people will want to come to watch.

"I'm excited that he's not coming here wanting to rebuild," McKinley said. "He wants to win next year. He's talking about going to a bowl game next year and he's not going to take anything less than that."

Dimel's first task will be to see whether he can sign players by the junior college signing period, which ends today.

The new UH head football coach will also be expected to achieve something Helton was never able to do: filling the stands at Robertson Stadium.

"The thing that will get the fans back more than anything will be winning," Dimel said. "Everybody loves a winner. Once we start winning each and every Saturday on a consistent basis, then the fans will start coming back."

"I know Houston is on the verge of being a great football program once again," Dimel said. "There is no reason why we cannot keep great players in this state and city at home. We will do whatever needs to be accomplished to be a champion again.

"I'm an ex-offensive lineman, and my nature of how I get things done is I'm a grinder," he said. "That means I'm going to be in the office grinding it out, and I'm going to be on the recruiting trail grinding it out.

"There's no reason why we can't get this thing crankin', so that’s my promise to you. We're going to get it crankin'. There’s no doubt in my mind."

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