Mike Price isn't saying he's ready to retire, but he has made it clear what he wants before he steps down at UTEP.
"I want to retire on a winning note," Price, the seventh-year head coach at UTEP, told the Birmingham News.
Will that be this year?
"I think we're going to be real good," said Price, who led the Miners to back-to-back bowl games in his first two seasons, but has failed to reach the postseason since 2005. "I'd be disappointed if we're not."
Whether the Miners will be as good as Price thinks hinges on two questions: Will their defense show up under new defensive coordinator Andre Patterson and can running back Donald Buckram somehow repeat what he did in 2009?
Patterson has his work cut out for him implementing a 4-3 scheme after the gimmicky 3-3-5 approach of the past two seasons failed miserably. He also has to change the mindset of a unit that allowed 446.9 yards per game in 2009 (110th in the nation).
"We're getting back to an old scheme, so I've hired an old friend who is going to teach our guys how to tackle, how to line up and how to stop people close to the goal line," Price said.
As for Buckram, the senior who is the nation's second-returning leading rusher after gaining 132.8 yards per game a year ago, Price simply can't say enough about what the 5-foot-10, 199-pound home-run threat brings to the team on and off the field.
"You look at Donald Buckram, he looks like what an All-American is supposed to look like and act like," Price told the El Paso Times. "What a great person, what a great father, what a great husband, what a great student."
If the Miners do in fact return to a bowl game this year, it's a safe bet Price will be beaming about his entire roster like he does his All-Conference-USA running back.
And it just might give him a fitting sunset to ride off into retirement.
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