UTEP's Price reunited with Woolard, Holtz, Snyder
TAMPA -- Head coach Mike Price brings UTEP in to face USF on Saturday as a 28-point underdog, but he has the benefit of several long-standing friendships with key parts of the Bulls sideline.
Price, you might remember, was the last head football coach Doug Woolard hired before he brought Skip Holtz to USF last year -- Woolard was the associate athletic director at Washington State in 1989 when Price was hired to his first I-A head coaching job, and the two have remained close friends. "Doug's one of my best friends, a great AD," Price said.
And Price, 65, knows Holtz and USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder well from their days as head coaches in Conference USA -- they all coached against each other from 2005-09, with Holtz at East Caroina and Snyder at Marshall. Holtz spoke fondly of his annual golf outings with those two at C-USA's preseason coaches meeting, and Price said he called Woolard with a strong endorsement of Holtz when the USF job came open, even if some of it was out of self-interest.
"I called him and said 'The No. 1 guy you want you should hire is Skip Holtz,'" Price said. "First of all, I wanted him out of Conference USA (laughing). Secondly, I did not want to schedule South Florida, so it ended up backfiring. I think he made a great choice, and we cheer for them every game. This is kind of an unusual game, but it's a great opportunity for our kids. It's all business all day on Saturday."
How has Holtz fared against Price teams? His ECU team edged UTEP 45-42 in overtime in 2007, with the two teams combining for 1,096 yards of total offense -- Price's Miners had 589 yards in a losing effort. A year later, the Pirates won again with a 53-21 victory.
Price's history with Snyder goes farther back than their coaching days against each other -- when Price was at Weber State, his best season there came to an end in 1987 at the hands of a Marshall team that had a young Snyder as a senior defensive back. Marshall prevailed 51-23 in the second round of the I-AA playoffs, picking off a school-record seven interceptions, with Snyder getting one of those picks (he had 10 his senior year). What Price remembers most about the game? The long, flowing hair coming out of No. 10's helmet for the Thundering Herd.
(Thanks to the Herald-Dispatch for the 1987 archive photo, left. They have a slew of old Snyder photos here.)
In Snyder's first year as head coach at Marshall, Price's UTEP team beat him 31-3, only to have Snyder return the favor with a 49-21 Marshall win in 2006. Price had the dubious honor of handing Snyder his final loss at Marshall -- he resigned the day after UTEP's 52-21 win in 2009.
And the oldest Price tie on USF's coaching staff belongs to Rich Rachel, a longtime Bulls assistant who is now USF's director of high school relations. Rachel was the secondary coach at Kansas in 1979-80 when Price was an offensive assistant at Missouri. Price's Tigers won easily in both meetings, prevailing 55-7 in 1979 and 31-6 in 1980. (A defensive grad assistant on that Missouri staff was a young Jim Leavitt.)