Dana Dimel will send a team on the field at Robertson
Stadium as Houston’s head coach for the last time today as the Cougars host
Louisville at 3 p.m.
After a 7-26 record over three seasons, including 4-7 this
year, Dimel was told Sunday after a meeting with athletics director Dave
Maggard that he would not be returning for the fourth year on his 5-year
The Cougars are in the role of spoilers for their lame duck
coach. A Houston win would deny Louisville a share of the Conference USA
Dimel played defensive tackle for East Carolina coach Steve
Logan at Hutchinson Junior College in Kansas in 1981. Dimel went on to play
at Kansas State and was an assistant coach at his alma mater from 1987 to
1996 before becoming head coach at Wyoming, where he was 23-12 in three
“Obviously, I have a personal relationship with Dana and I
have a little more insight into this situation,” Logan said. “When Dana got
the job he was told to clean up the program. There’s a terrible price to pay
when you’re given those marching orders. He let a lot of kids go and he
redshirted his recruiting classes.
“His first recruiting class was redshirt sophomores this
year. That’s discipline. He took the tough stand and everybody was saying,
‘Hey, that’s great. You’re doing it the right way.’ He was in that third
year deal and they were competitive. Somebody will take that job and do well
because Dana has set the table.”
Chet Gladchuck was the athletics director who hired Dimel at
Houston. Dimel may have been swayed by his financial package without looking
at some of the hard facts about the Cougars program.
“I did not know the degree of the challenges when I took the
job,” Dimel said. "The attendance problem was one of the big factors that I
was unaware of at the time. ... Low attendance affects player and coaches
morale. I probably should have done a better job of researching those
factors. I also looked at this job for financial reasons. I would be lying
if I did not say that the finances attracted me to this position.”
Houston averaged 15,244 fans for its C-USA home games last
season. There were probably a lot fewer bodies actually on hand. But the
money was good enough to make him leave Wyoming where he had seasons of 8-5,
8-3 and 7-4.
“That’s the good thing about it,” Logan said. “He got a
sweetheart of a deal.”
Gladchuck left Houston to become athletics director at the
Naval Academy and Maggard had little professional commitment to Dimel. The
coach’s contract stipulated that it would be renegotiated if he won six
games in his third season. When the Cougars lost to South Florida 32-14 last
week, the prospect of that provision coming into force were eliminated.
Dimel said he had job offers within two days of his
“Coaches take care of coaches,” he said.
His coach from his junior college days believes Dimel's
track record will land him solidly on his feet.
“I think Dana will get another job, a head job, because he
was successful at Wyoming,” Logan said.
John L. hopes Cards aren't
victims in Dimel's swan song
Still, there is one game to play that could impact C-USA’s
football championship. A Houston win in Dimel’s last game would knock the
Cardinals out of a share of their third straight league title.
It is not a situation that Louisville coach John L. Smith
relishes going into.
“I feel bad for Dana and I think he’s done a tremendous
job,” Smith said. “They’re more talented than lots of the teams we’ve played
this year and they’ve done a tremendous job there but I can’t do anything
about their situation. ... We have to concern ourselves with ourselves. We
control our own destiny. I don’t know what unexpected things we might see in
“They may come out and play their best game of the year. We
have to be prepared for that.”
Dimel and his staff didn’t view film of Louisville on
Sunday, as was their custom for an upcoming opponent. But they caught up on
“I think everybody in this business understands what was
going on and what all happened and what the situation was,” Dimel said. “We
all have to live with that and I have to go on knowing that I left it a
better place than when I came along.”
Dimel’s program snapped a 14-game losing streak with a 24-10
win at crosstown rival Rice in in this season's opening game. The Cougars
didn’t play ECU in 2001 but were certainly more competitive in a 54-48
triple overtime loss at home to the Pirates three weeks ago than they were
in a 62-20 loss in Greenville in 2000.
Charles in charge
Because the East Carolina-Southern Miss football game at 3
p.m. today is not scheduled for television, Jeff Charles, the radio voice of
the Pirates, will be the eyes and ears for many ECU fans this afternoon on
the Pirates sports network.
It’s been awhile since a game with the implications of bowl
eligibility and a share of the Conference USA title for ECU has not been
televised. The Pirates’ four-game season package on WITN-7 was completed
with the UAB game.
“I think we’ll have a big listening audience,” Charles said
before boarding ECU’s charter for Hattiesburg, MS, on Friday afternoon.
Even though the commentary of my Bonesville.net colleague
will be our source for the action in the absence of a picture, he said that
doesn’t really change anything as far as how he goes about his job.
“I prepare the same way each and every week,” Charles said.
“We’re creatures of habit and it doesn’t matter if the game is on worldwide
television or not. The preparation is pretty much the same each week.”
Charles’ week starts with Coach Steve Logan’s news
conference on Monday. He and his broadcast staff talk to coach Logan, the
opposing coach and Pirates players for the pregame program that starts at
2:10 p.m. today on Pirates network affiliates.
“You pour over stats and all the information to pull the
broadcast together,” Charles said. “It’s kind of like studying for a final
exam in school. You want to paint as accurate and complete a picture as you
can describing what’s going on.”
Charles arrives at the stadium for a road game three hours
before kickoff and heads for the visitors’ locker room to get the heavy
trunk that the radio equipment has made the trip in. It’s the start of a
long day. After the flight back to Greenville following the game, Charles
does the coach’s television show with Logan.
The football team will probably be getting home about the
time the ECU basketball game tonight with William & Mary is ending. Reece
Edwards will be filling in for Charles on the radio broadcast from Minges
Coliseum's Williams Arena.
Production will finish on the coach’s show at WITN at 4 or 5
a.m. on Sunday.
Charles doesn’t mind the trip to Hattiesburg. He enjoys
dining at Chesterfield’s, a nice restaurant near the stadium. In the last
ECU game at M.M. Roberts Stadium, also known as 'The Rock,' there was one
problem with the Pirates’ 14-9 win in soggy conditions.
“The windows on the press box at Southern Miss don’t open
and when it was raining, it was like looking through the windshield when the
windshield wipers aren’t working,” Charles said.
Better conditions are expected today with a high of 64 under
partly cloudy skies. Hopefully the weather will be just right for Charles to
do some “painting” at The Rock with his famed closing call, “You can paint
this one purple,” which he says when ECU wins.
“I’ve got the paint can ready to open,” he said Friday.
Winning and losing can make a big difference in how Charles
feels during the time that he spends preparing for game day.
“Winning is fun,” he said. “When you’re losing, it’s more of
a challenge. When you’re working in the athletics department, it’s a totally
different environment on the Monday after we win a game as opposed to
losing. There’s a difference in the energy level. That’s the biggest thing.
It doesn’t matter if you do 10 games in 10 days when you’re winning.
“When you’re in a losing skid it takes a lot to fight your
way out of that. What’s scary is getting comfortable with losing games and
you’ve got to fight your way out of that.”