Beginning his third season, Dana Dimel became a part of University of Houston history in 1999, when he was named the school's ninth head football coach. Dimel arrived in the Bayou City after a very successful three years as the head coach at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. He brought an impressive 23-12 (.657) mark to the U of H program, and his Cowboy teams competed for the conference championship in all three seasons.
In rebuilding the once-storied Cougar football program, Dimel has brought a sense of pride and discipline to Houston. In 2000 the Cougars were hit hard by injuries, but Dimel kept his players together and fielded a extremely potent and competitive football team. Despite suffering his first losing season in four years, Dimel kept his composure and guided the Cougars to three impressive wins, including conference victories over Army and Memphis. Along the way Dimel redshirted over 25 players, thus laying the foundation to a very productive future.
Dimel's offense became a force to be reckoned with in Conference USA in 2000, racking up almost 350 yards of total offense per game, including 270 through the air. Senior linebacker Wayne Rogers capped his Cougar career by being named Conference USA Co-Defensive Player of the Year-the first Cougar to receive such an honor since the late Wilson Whitley earned Southwest Conference Devensive MVP in his Lombardi Award season of 1976.
This past season Dimel again redshirted the majority of his recruiting class, closely following his reconstructive blueprint to elevate the Cougars to not only top-notch Conference USA standing, but also become a player at the national level again. The UH squad exhibited glimpses of the future in 2001 with such young standouts as linemen Rex Hadnot and Al James, linebacker Justin Davis, cornerback Stanford Routt and strong safety Jermain Woodard becoming elite players in C-USA, being named Third-Team Freshman All-American after his outstanding season.
There is optimism and hope within the Houston ranks, as Dimel's redshirt plan comes to fruition in 2002. After back-to-back number-one recruiting classes in Conference USA, Dimel knows the Cougars need heavy contributions from the 2000 and 2001 classes. The newcomers (Class of 2002) are expected to be ready to play.
Even though this is his first stint at coaching college football in tradition-rich Texas, Dimel has come to know the state and its integral high school system after 10 years of recruiting the Lone Star State. In the last two years, he inked 40 student-athletes from the state of Texas, including 25 from the Greater Houston area. The Cougars Classes of 2001 and 2002 were rated as the best in Conference USA and the fourth best in the state of Texas, trailing only Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech.
Upon his arrival at Houston two years ago, Dimel stressed the importance of keeping Texas athletes in the state.
"In my years recruiting Texas, I had always aspired to be the head coach of a school in this state," said the 39-year-old Dimel. "This has been a career goal of mine, and now I have the chance. I know Houston is on the verge of being a great football program once again, and there is no reason why we cannot keep great players in this state and city at home. We will do whatever needs to be accomplished to be a champion again.
Prior to his first year at Houston, Dimel was one of only 10 current Division I-A head coaches to have won at least seven games in every year as a coach. He was also just one of 17 head coaches to have never suffered a losing season while at the helm of a I-A program, and when it came to winning, he was one of 19 coaches to win at least seven regular season games in each of the those three years.
The energetic and personable Dimel was one of the most successful young coaches in the nation through his three seasons at Wyoming. He led the Cowboys to eight wins in two of his three years, and his 23-12 (.657) record ranked as the second-best start of any Wyoming football coach in history.
In 1999 Dimel's Cowboys finished 7-4 in the Mountain West Conference's inaugural season and came within a game of sharing the league championship. The wide-open Cowboy offense averaged 400 yards of total offense and close to 30 points per game during the 1999 season.
A proponent of a high-octane offense and smothering defense, Dimel directed Wyoming to several key wins during his three seasons in Laramie, including 1999 victories against bowl-bound teams Utah (43-29) and BYU (31-17) in back-to-back weekends. Dimel also has defeated Iowa State, Hawaii, Colorado State and Air Force, as well as the Texas trifecta of Rice, SMU and TCU.
His second season at UW ended with his Cowboys ranked No. 25 in the final New York Times computer rankings. The Pokes' highest rankings during the 1998 season were: No. 12 by the New York Times , No. 25 by the USA Today/ ESPN coaches' poll and No. 25 by the Associated Press media poll.
In the 1998 campaign, Dimel led the Pokes to an 8-3 overall record, and a 6-2 mark in Western Athletic Conference play. Two of the three losses came at the hands of nationally-ranked teams- No. 10 ranked Air Force and No. 14 ranked Georgia. The '98 squad also posted a seven-game winning streak on its way to a second-place finish in the Western Athletic Conference Mountain Division. In 1997, Wyoming posted an 8-5 record in a season that ran for 13 consecutive weeks- the longest in school history.
Named head coach on Dec. 7, 1996, by Wyoming Athletics Director Lee Moon, Dimel became the 28th head football coach at Wyoming. When he was hired, Dimel was the youngest head coach in NCAA Division I-A football.
Despite his youth, Dimel brought with him an impressive list of accomplishments in his relatively young career. As an assistant coach at Kansas State University of 10 seasons, he helped lead the Wildcats through their most successful era in school history. In fact, Sports Illustrated magazine called Kansas State "the biggest turnaround in college football history."
During Dimel's short time at UW, he brought a hard-nosed defensive style to the Cowboy Football program. In 1997, Wyoming ranked No.2 in the nation in quarterback sacks, No.6 in pass defense, No.17 in scoring defense and No. 23 in total defense. UW followed that up in '98 with a No.28 national rank in scoring defense.
Among the players who were key contributors to the resurgent Wyoming defense was 1997 Consensus All-American Brian Lee at free safety. Two other Cowboys also earned All-America recognition in '97-center Jay Korth and punter Aron Langley were both honorable mention selections.
Four Cowboy defenders earned First-Team All-Conference honors and five were named Second-Team All-Conference during Dimel's tenure at UW.
Offensively, the '98 campaign saw Marques Brigham rush for 1,114 yards on his way to first-team all-conference honors. Sophomore quarterback Jay Stoner was named second-team all-conference after ranking among the Top 40 quarterbacks in the nation in total offense and passing efficiency. In the Dimel era at Wyoming, four Poke offensive players garnered first-team all-league accolades, and three others were named to the second team. Two special teams Cowboys also were named to all-conference squads during the his last two seasons.
In addition to the number of Cowboys who've enjoyed success under his direction, Dimel had an outstanding history of developing players while at Kansas State. During his tenure with the Wildcats, the KSU offense featured All-Americans Chad May at quarterback, Barrett Brooks at offensive tackle, Andre Coleman at wide receiver, Jim Hmielewski at offensive tackle, Kevin Lockett at wide receiver, Matt Miller at quarterback, Quentin Neujahr at center, J.J. Smith at running back and Michael Smith at wide receiver. Quarterback May finished 11th in the 1994 Heisman Trophy balloting. In 1995, Miller set the Big 8 single-season record for most touchdown passes with 22.
The Kansas State offense also had the No.1 (Lockett) and No.3 (Michael Smith) leading receivers in the history of the Big 8 Conference during Dimel's time in Manhattan.
As offensive line coach at K-State, he tutored 11 offensive linemen who signed NFL contracts-many of which are still on NFL rosters. During his three seasons at Wyoming, 12 Cowboys signed NFL contracts.
His first year in Laramie, Dimel saw his Cowboys attract the largest crowd in War Memorial Stadium history when 34,745 turned out for the Colorado State game on Oct. 18, 1997. His Wyoming teams enjoyed great success at home, posting a 14-4 record.
At KSU, Dimel helped lead the Wildcats to the sixth-winningest home record in the nation during the 1990's and the third-best record among Big 12 teams from 1994-96. Season-ticket sales to Kansas State football games rose from 8,000 in 1989 to 34,000 in 1996-third best in the Big 12 Conference.
A two-year letterman as an offensive lineman for the Wildcats in 1985 and '86, he began his college playing career as a defensive tackle in 1984. After suffering an injury two games into the '84 season, he was awarded a medical hardship and played the next two seasons at offensive tackle. Dimel was named to the All-America Strength team as a senior at KSU, and was named K-State's Lifter of the Year in 1986.
He signed with the Minnesota Vikings out of college, attending camp in 1987.
Dimel completed his bachelor's degree in marketing at Kansas State in 1986. Prior to that he earned an associate of arts degree from Hutchinson Community College in Hutchinson, Kan.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, he has one son, Winston, who was born on his father's birthday of Oct. 9, 1995. He and his wife, Julie, were married in 1999 at War Memorial Stadium in Wyoming. The couple also has a daughter, Josie.