The results may say otherwise, but Mike Price really enjoys coaching in games at Marshall.
He will bring his Texas-El Paso team to Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the second time as the Miners battle the Thundering Herd at 3 p.m. Saturday. In addition to a 2006 visit, Price also brought Weber State to town in 1987 for an NCAA Division I-AA quarterfinal at old Fairfield Stadium.
Neither game went well for Price. His Weber State team was sacked and intercepted into oblivion in a 51-23 Marshall romp, and 19 years later Ahmad Bradshaw ran roughshod over the Miners in a 49-21 thumping (see story, Page 4B).
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, Price fondly remembers the fans from those games. Neither drew a full house (13,179 in 1987, 20,783 in 2006), but the patrons made an impression nonetheless.
"I like playing in that city because the fans care about their football," Price said Wednesday. "It means a lot to them. It's not something we can't get up for; it's not like playing in an empty stadium. There's not going to be 40,000, but the people there are fans.
"They give me and our team all kind of good suggestions on what we should be doing. If you need an idea, all you have to do is take your headsets off and listen to them, and they'll give you lots of ideas - particularly, where to put your head, something like that."
Price might need to do better Saturday - make that a lot better - to stick around in El Paso.
Price shares the "dean of coaches" title in Conference USA with Central Florida's George O'Leary (it must be re-noted that they could have faced each other as coaches of Alabama and Notre Dame). Price became an instant hit in El Paso and guided the often-woeful Miners to eight-win seasons in 2004 and 2005.
The Miners (5-3, 2-3) have suffered four straight losing seasons since, but have returned to the precipice of bowl eligibility. But with a finishing schedule of resurgent Southern Methodist, Arkansas and Tulsa, disaster seems just as close.
Especially since the Miners have just lost to Alabama-Birmingham and Tulane. Price might want to beat the Herd (1-6, 0-3) to get that sixth win and put other issues behind him.
"We just didn't get it done," Price said of the last two games. "We've had some major injuries in key positions, so that's been difficult in those two games. We haven't moved the ball as effectively as we normally do, only scored two or three touchdowns. We don't like that; we like to score more points than that.
"We've had as many injuries as I've ever had in the coaching profession."
Three UTEP captains have been hit by serious injury. Safety Braxton Amy is gone for the year with a torn Achilles tendon, wide receiver Donovan Kemp blew out his knee and 1,500-yard rusher Donald Buckram is still recovering from a torn meniscus suffered last year against Marshall.