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The farthest road trip for FIU in its new conference will be to UTEP, which is located in El Paso, Texas and is two time zones away. The Panthers football team will be there on November 16. FIU will also have to deal with playing in an area that is nearly three-fourths of a mile above sea level thanks to El Paso’s mountainous geography.
As you may guess from its nickname, Miners, UTEP started as a school of mines. With its location in themountains, UTEP’s campus buildings resemble Buddhist kingdoms.
UTEP was the king of college basketball in 1966 and won the state of Texas's only national championship in the sport with an historic team.
In the previous FIU’s Conference USA Opponents Series you got to know:
East Carolina Pirates
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs
Marshall Thundering Herd
Old Dominion Monarchs
Southern Miss Golden Eagles
Tulane Green Wave
Tulsa Golden Hurricane
Let's go climb a mountain and visit the UTEP Miners. . . .
UTEP was founded in 1914 as The Texas State School of Mines and Metallurgy. Even after 99 years of being in business, a mineshaft still exists on the campus. In 1919 the school name was changed to the University of Texas Department of Mines and Metallurgy, and in 1920 to the Texas College of Mines and Metallurgy. Students painted a large "M" for Miners on the Franklin Mountains in 1923, and the "M" is still there today.
You want to talk about a long school name. The school's name changed again in 1949, this time to Texas Western College of the University of Texas. In 1967 the school's name changed for the last time to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).
THIS BUDDA’S FOR UTEP
A notable feature of UTEP is its campus architecture. The campus buildings are modeled after the dzong style of Bhutan. Many of the campus buildings look like Buddhist kingdoms. The dzong architecture style of the Kingdom of Bhutan was adopted after Kathleen Worrell, wife of the university's dean, spotted photographs of Bhutan in a 1914 issue of National Geographic.
Noting the similarity of mountainous Bhutan (which is in the Himalayas) to the location of the campus in El Paso, Worrell suggested that the new buildings be in the style of Bhutanese dzongs (monastic fortresses), with massive sloping walls and overhanging roofs.
UTEP was the first college in the American south to integrate its intercollegiate sports programs. The 1966 men’s basketball team defeated an all-white Kentucky team in the national championship game. The historic game and season was depicted in the 2006 movie “Glory Road” To this date UTEP is the only school in Texas to bring home a NCAA Men's Basketball Championship.
TRACK & FIELD TITANS
UTEP's sports programs have won a total of 21 NCAA Division I national championships -- 20 by the track & field program. The 1966 men's basketball team won one national title. The men's cross country team has won seven national titles as has the men's indoor track & field team. The men's outdoor track & field team has won six national championships.
ONE RIVALRY, TWO TROPHIES
While FIU and Florida Atlantic battle it out each year for the Don Shula Trophy, UTEP and New Mexico State play each year for two trophies: the Silver Spadeand the Brass Spittoon.
The spade is an old prospector's shovel dug up from an abandoned mine in the Organ Mountains near Las Cruces, New Mexico in 1947. The two schools’ major field of study uses a spade: mining and metallurgy for the College of Mines and agriculture at New Mexico State.
The Brass Spittoon, officially known as the Mayor's Cup, came into existence in 1982 when the mayors of the two cities decided to present another traveling trophy to the winner of the game. The game is known as “The Battle of I-10”.
NOT A SURFING SIGN
UTEP’s traditional fans' sign might look like something a surfer might flash, but it’s not. UTEP fans make a Pickaxe sign with their hand to represent the traditional tool used by Miners, the pickaxe. The gesture is made by fans when UTEP players are shooting free throws at basketball games, or any time UTEP kicks off at a football game.
Some of the more recognizable UTEP alums include: F. Murray Abraham – Academy Award Best Actor winner for “Amadeus”; NBA Hall of Famer Nate Archibald, who was chosen as one of the Top 50 Greatest NBA Players; ABC newsman Sam Donaldson; Olympic gold medalist Bob Beamon; Jack Handey of “Deep Thoughts” from Saturday Night Live; former Miami Heat guard Tim Hardaway.
UTEP’s mascot is a miner named Paydirt Pete, but its original mascot was a student dressed as a prospector leading a burro named Clyde.
Like FIU, UTEP made history at an historic stadium against North Texas. If you recall, FIU defeated North Texas in the final game ever played at the Orange Bowl in 2007. UTEP defeated North Texas in the first game ever played at the Sun Bowl in 1963.
The UTEP softball complex is the named the Helen of Troy Softball Complex. It’s named after a consumer products company and not just for the woman from Greek mythology.
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