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Volume 2, Issue 1                            University of Houston

New coach brings promise to football program

Rohith Nandagiri

UH has hired another ex-offensive lineman to coach its football team. But something is different with this burly guy, who has a face as young as some of his players'. Dana Dimel may be the person to take the football program to the next level. 

He's a coach who is committed to recruiting in Texas and establishing a great rapport with alumni and students.

After being swarmed with media at his UH debut Monday, Dimel picked up a cell phone and talked to radio station KILT. Since it was Dimel's first day, it was normal procedure to give as much positive publicity to the program as possible.

But he said the key words that make Cougar fans and alums ecstatic things like "(Ex-Cougar great) Andre Ware will be part of this program" and "We want to recruit in and around Houston extensively." Those promises will sit well in collective backers' minds.

But the main thing Dimel talked about was his style of play. That is, essentially, the most important part of the hire.

He ran a wide-open offense at Wyoming with a lot of passing. It's something he hopes to bring to Houston. This should have senior starting quarterback Jason McKinley licking his chops waiting for the season to begin.

"We are very excited about the season starting," McKinley said. "We can't wait to get started."

Neither can the alumni. One alum sitting behind me kept whispering, "We're gonna do it, we're gonna do it."

It essentially means that UH will get to the top of Conference USA.

And even though former head coach Kim Helton was fired, he did bring respectability back to the program. The Cougars were in a position to win against East Carolina, Louisville and, to a certain extent, Alabama. But poor preparation or lack of adjustments at halftime caused losses in those games. Only in the Alabama-Birmingham game did the Cougars look lifeless.

Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk wanted to bring in a coach who could turn the program around. The two most powerful men on campus, Gladchuk and President Arthur K. Smith, set out to find only head coaches who were hoping to move. 

Gladchuk could have been dejected when Marshall's Bob Pruett began to ride the fence. But instead, he went to Dimel, who might turn out to be a better choice.

Pruett is 57 years old and played in a weak conference. Don't get me wrong Pruett would have been a bigger name with more publicity. But he would have been just another coach with no Texas recruiting ties.

Dimel has recruited well in Texas, bringing 18 players to Laramie, Wyo.

It is time for a UH coach to attack the prospects in Houston and Dallas and keep about 10 of the top 100 players in the state. In the Helton era, UH got next to none. Dimel looks to bring in these recruits with "grinding" efforts.

While Dimel wasn't the big name we had all hoped for, he is the type of coach who will bring this program back to prominence. And, as is typical of a Midwestern guy, he is neither pompous nor arrogant he is always smiling.

Although some may see that as a weakness, it is probably one of his greatest strengths.

Nandagiri, a senior MIS major, can be reached at

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