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Conference USA releases 2018 schedule

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Conference USA released its 2018 schedule on Tuesday, confirming that once again the league will play football this fall.

The league slate kicks off Sept. 8 with FIU’s visit to Old Dominion, while the first game involving a C-USA team is set for Aug. 25, when Rice hosts Prairie View A&M. Conference games are scattered throughout the month of September, with the first full Saturday slate coming on Oct. 6 with Old Dominion at Florida Atlantic, UAB at Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee at Marshall, North Texas at UTEP and UTSA at Rice.

While the MAC has opted for a full embrace of midweek football, Conference USA has gone in the exact opposite direction. Not one C-USA game is scheduled as of today for a weeknight — Thursday or Friday included — and only one game will be played on a day other than Saturday, a Friday, Aug. 31 visit to Wisconsin by Western Kentucky.

The most-anticipated non-conference games involving C-USA teams are Florida Atlantic’s opener at Oklahoma and on Sept. 1 and the Owls’ Sept. 22 visit to reigning American and Peach Bowl champion UCF. North Texas also has two shots to win nationwide respect for the league in its opener against SMU on Sept. 1 in Denton and a Sept. 15 visit to retooling Arkansas.

The highlight of the league schedule comes on Nov. 17 with a rematch of the 2017 title game when Florida Atlantic visits North Texas. The Owls won both meetings last season by a combined score of 110-48.

The 14th C-USA Championship will be held on Dec. 1 at the home of the division winner with the best conference record. FAU will look to become the second straight back-to-back C-USA champion, joining Western Kentucky in 2015-16.

Ex-Texas QB/WR Kai Locksley commits to UTEP

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Kai Locksley left the state of Texas, but has now found his way back.

The former University of Texas quarterback announced on Twitter Monday night that he has committed to continuing his collegiate playing career at UTEP. The Miners’ new head coach, Dana Dimel, addressed the development on his own Twitter account.

Locksley, whose father Mike is an assistant at Alabama, was a four-star member of the Longhorns’ 2015 recruiting class, rated as the No. 6 player at any position in the state of Maryland. After not attempting a pass or playing a down his first two seasons at UT — he ultimately transitioned to wide receiver — Locksley moved on to an Iowa junior college.

After spending the 2017 season at the JUCO, Locksley was rated by 247Sports.com as the No. 4 dual-threat quarterback at that level of football.

Ex-Arkansas RBs coach one of four added to UTEP staff

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Dana Dimel has added a touch of the SEC experience to his first UTEP coaching staff.

The football program on Wednesday confirmed the hiring of four assistants, two on each side of the ball — running backs coach Reggie Mitchell, inside wide receivers coach Jake Waters, defensive line/defensive tackles coach Mike Tuiasosopo and cornerbacks coach Remington Rebstock.

Mitchell spent the past two seasons as the running backs coach at Arkansas. Prior to that, he served in the same capacity, with the added title of recruiting coordinator, at Kansas for six seasons (2010-15).

“Reggie brings a wealth of experience and recruiting savvy to our program,” Dimel said in a statement. “He’s well versed and well-recognized as an outstanding recruiter here in the state of Texas. He’s well known as an excellent coach and developer of running back talent at the highest level of college football.”

The other three assistants will all be working in their first on-field role at the FBS level.

Waters, a former quarterback at Kansas State under Dimel’s tutelage, was a graduate assistant at Iowa State last season; Tuiasosopo spent the past three seasons in various roles at USC, including special teams quality control assistant and offensive consultant; Rebstock served in a variety of off-field roles at K-State (2010-14) and Oklahoma State (2015-17).

New UTEP coach Dana Dimel adds pair of coordinators

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On the same day he could’ve been adding players to his first UTEP roster, Dana Dimel instead announced the additions of a pair of key assistants.

Wednesday, Dimel confirmed that he has hired Mike Canales and Mike Cox as part of his first Miners coaching staff. The former will serve as offensive coordinator, the latter defensive coordinator.

Dimel and Cox spent the past five seasons working together at Kansas State, with Cox serving as linebackers coach for Bill Snyder each of those five seasons. This will mark Cox’s first coordinator job.

“Mike is a very knowledgeable coach familiar with what I wanted from a coordinator. We worked side by side for five years,” Dimel said in a statement. “His experience and reputation as an outstanding coach has spanned from three different Power Five Conferences as well as the NFL. Mike will be a great resource for the UTEP players and help develop them as best student-athletes and young men. Mike will bring an aggressive and physical defense to the Miners.”

Canales spent the 2017 season as the quarterbacks coach at Tennessee. Prior to a one-year stint as the running backs and tight ends coach at his alma mater Utah State, he was the coordinator at North Texas for six seasons (2010-15).

During a 33-year coaching career, Canales has also spent time as coordinator two other programs: Arizona (2004-06) and twice at South Florida, first from 1996-2000 and then again in 2009.

“Mike Canales and I have known each other for a long period of time and worked together as well,” said Dimel. “Mike understands the positive message and energy we want to bring to the players and the program. Mike is highly regarded as a great developer of quarterbacks as well as an outstanding offensive coordinator. He has tremendous experience in three different Power Five Conferences and the NFL and also in Conference USA as an interim head coach as well as a coordinator. Mike will be a great mentor to help develop our student-athletes in reaching all their goals as a player and a person.”

As for Dimel’s first roster? The first-year coach said in a separate statement that he decided to not sign any players during the Early Signing Period and will instead focus initially on evaluating the current roster before shifting to gearing up for February’s Signing Day.

“We’re pleased to say that the initial stages of our recruiting process is going well. The first step that we have taken is to evaluate the personnel within the program. This has allowed us to address our needs,” said Dimel. “The next step was to get a good feel on numbers we have in each class. This allows us to have a plan for balancing our numbers in the future. There are several recruits across Texas and the country that we have had conversations and contacts with. We have chosen not to sign any so we can further get to know them and allow them to officially visit our campus in January. Some of these recruits could be mid-year transfers. We are moving swiftly but are doing our due diligence. Each decision is based on the long-term future of our program.”

Cactus Bowl may be fullback Winston Dimel’s last game at Kansas State too

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Kansas State may not be losing one, but two Dimels.

Wildcats offensive coordinator Dana Dimel was recently hired by UTEP to be the team’s next head coach and it sure sounds like his son Winston will be following him to El Paso after the team plays UCLA in the Cactus Bowl later this month.

“I imagine that it would be Winston’s (final game in a K-State uniform),” head coach Bill Snyder said Wednesday. “I would imagine that he would want to go with his father. He and I haven’t had that conversation. We will. I think it’s obviously a good choice for the University of Texas at El Paso.”

The younger Dimel is a rare breed given how few teams employ a fullback nowadays but the All-Big 12 selection is one of the best at the position in the country and a big part of the Wildcats’ offense. He has started 38 games for the program but has already graduated from school and would be able to play right away with the Miners as a graduate transfer in 2018.
It seems that Snyder has prepared for the fact that Winston could be gone from Manhattan next season as the team did ink a fullback as part of the early signing period on Wednesday, announcing that junior college fullback Luke Sowa has signed with the school. While the bowl game against UCLA will offer the Kansas State faithful an opportunity to likely say goodbye to both of the Dimels, the bigger question for fans in purple is if they will also be bidding adieu to the white-haired wizard as well.