UTEP hires Austin Peay coach Scotty Walden to try to revive Miners' moribund program

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EL PASO, Texas (AP) — UTEP hired coach Scotty Walden away from Austin Peay on Monday, hoping the 34-year-old Texan's return to his home state can revive the Miners' moribund program.

Walden led Austin Peay to the FCS team's first undefeated conference record this season with a 9-3 overall record and a 6-0 mark in the United Athletic Conference.

The Governors were No. 10 in the NCAA's FCS coaches poll but lost to Chattanooga 24-21 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

UTEP fired Dana Dimel after his fifth losing season in six years.

The Miners won more than three games just twice under Dimel, but the history of losing goes well beyond his tenure. In the past 50 years, UTEP has seven winning seasons and has lost at least 10 games 20 times.

Walden was 26-14 in four winning seasons with Austin Peay, starting with the spring season in early 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic shortened the 2020 season.

The Governors' win total increased in each of Walden's four seasons.

“He is one of the most innovative and energetic young coaches in the nation,” UTEP athletic director Jim Senter said. “His teams are characterized by fast-paced and high-scoring offenses and opportunistic defenses.”

Walden was the interim replacement for Jay Hopson at Southern Miss one game into the pandemic-altered 2020 season, then resigned after four games to take the Austin Peay job and prepare for the unusual spring season.

His head coaching career started in 2016 at Division III East Texas Baptist, where he was the offensive coordinator for three years before getting promoted. Walden also was an assistant at his alma mater, Sul Ross State.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-football