Just over two years ago, the UTEP football program was trying to pick themselves up after going 2-22 in the first pair of seasons under head coach Dana Dimel. The former Kansas State offensive coordinator was facing backlash from frustrated fans and national media members, with certain publications suggesting that Dimel was on the hot seat entering the 2020 season.

Flash-forward to the 2022 offseason where things are as good with the UTEP football program than they've been in years, maybe since the likes of Mike Price.

The University of Texas board of regents approved a two-year contract extension and raise for Dimel on Monday, who was entering the final season of his initial five-year contract he signed back in 2017. Dimel's salary is set to increase from $748,966 to $850,000, per the regents' approval. Lou Romano initially broke the news on Friday that Dimel would be tied to the university through 2024.Though, Romano mentioned that this deal had been in the works since the Miners' 2021 appearance at the PUBG Mobile New Mexico Bowl following a conversation he had with Director of Athletics Jim Senter.

This is a deal that was met with mostly praise from the Miner fanbase. How could you blame them for being happy with the extension?

During the 2021 offseason, KVIA reported that Senter didn't feel like Dimel earned a contract extension by that point. The Miners went 1-11 in the first two seasons under Dimel, followed by a 3-5 record in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

In a "prove-it" year, Dimel coached the Miners to a 7-6 finish in 2021, including their first bowl appearance in seven seasons. The team stormed out to a 6-1 start last fall and challenged a tough Mountain West opponent in Fresno State with their narrow 31-24 loss in the New Mexico Bowl.

The 2021 season could springboard the Miners into the next few years as well. First off, they return virtually everyone on defense and a productive group of their offensive starters going into 2022. They are graduating players at an efficient clip. On the recruiting front, Dimel and the staff have developed healthy pipelines among the JUCO ranks.

And if things somehow don't get better for the Miners through the coming years, they are only locked in with Dimel for the next two seasons. It's much easier to get out of this contract extension if things go south.

As far as the raise, this is also long overdue for Dimel. Back in October, USA Today reported that Dimel was the lowest-paid coach across Conference USA. Coaches across the league made anywhere between $746,000 and $1.9 million, which isn't much of a pay gap. However, it's not a good look for the Miner football program when their head coach makes the least amount of money among the coaches in the league.

For the first time in a long time, things are normal around the UTEP football program. They aren't in disarray. They aren't the doormat of the league. They expect to win games, versus hoping to win one or two in a given season.

Dimel helped change the culture at UTEP into a winner. Miner fans will hope that he is the right coach to help this program win its first bowl game since 1967.

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