EL PASO, Texas - After nine seasons and a career record of 177-182, 48-60 while at UTEP, football head coach Mike Price announced his retirement Monday afternoon during his weekly press conference.
"I am retiring from the game that I have loved for all of my life," Price said. "I wish I could coach here for forever but that just doesn't happen. That's the reality of life."
Price was hired as UTEP's football coach in Dec. 2003, just seven months after Price's contract with Alabama was terminated because of off-field misconduct.
During his tenure, Price brought excitement to the program early on earning 8-4 records in back to back seasons and took the Miners to bowls (Houston in 2004, GMAC in 2005). Unfortunately he was unable to continue the momentum he build in his first two years falling short of bowl eligibility in six of the last seven years. UTEP was eligible again in 2010 when UTEP accepted a bid to the New Mexico bowl. Unfortunately for the Miners, Price lost each bowl game he coached.
Rumors had surfaced over the last couple of weeks about his retirement, but he remained mum on the situation.
"We had been talking about it for a couple of weeks. I wanted to wait till the end of the year," Price said. "We have a responsible team. They're going to be motivated and our coaches aren't going to quit on anybody. They're going to work hard to make this a great week."
"It was obvious to me when I was looking at the stadium [in Hattiesburg] and what they're writing about the poor coach there. It's BS. You don't get that here. I've been to a lot places and I have thick skin, but they treat people with dignity and respect here and I appreciate that," Price continued.
Athletic director Bob Stull and a former head football coach at UTEP said the hiring process will be underway immediately and has a list of candidates.
"The goal is to have someone hired by Christmas," Stull said. "I have a short list of people we are interested in, including (current defensive coordinator) Andre (Patterson)."
Questions have risen about the amount of money UTEP would be willing to pay for a head coach and Stull address those issues.
"We are not going to break the bank to hire a coach," Stull said. "I know there are a lot of people who want to be a head coach here. I think we have assembled an excellent coaching staff and everyone of them would be good to keep. If we hire someone from the outside, we will sit and talk about continuity."
Price is just one of two head coaches to lead UTEP to three bowl games, Mike Brumbelow being the other. As head coach, UTEP fell short of winning a conference title and came as close as finishing second in the West division of the Mountain West Conference.
Much of the 2012 season was considered to be his last as Price was in the final year of his contract and there was much speculation as to whether or not he would get a contract extension. The Miners had possibly one of their most difficult non-conference schedules in program history facing off with Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Wisconsin.
After dropping all three contests, Price and the Miners never fully recovered from travel and injuries dropping several Conference USA games to East Carolina, SMU, Tulsa, Houston and UCF. UTEP's three wins this season came against New Mexico State, Tulane and Southern Miss this past weekend.
UTEP finishes their season Saturday against Rice in the Sun Bowl.