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Sean Kugler officially named UTEP's new football coach

By Leonard Martinez
Asher Wildman, Sports Director
Published On: Dec 10 2012 12:10:59 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 14 2014 09:01:12 PM CST
Sean Kugler

Sean Kugler

EL PASO, Texas -

UTEP officially introduced Sean Kugler as its new head football on Monday afternoon.

ABC-7 had first announced the hire Friday evening via Asher Wildman's Twitter account.

Kugler met with his new players early Monday morning with mixed emotions by some players..

One UTEP player's reaction on Kugler's hire: "Seems to be solid and upfront. He'll give everyone a chance to compete fairly for their spot."

Not all the players were immediately happy with the coach's hiring.

One UTEP player told ABC-7 they were told to come in early this morning to meet with their position coach and they felt tricked when they found out it was to meet Kugler.

"If we knew it was to meet the new coach, most of us probably wouldn't have shown up. Lots of us wanted (UTEP defensive coordinator Andre) Patterson," one UTEP player said.

UTEP's most recent head coach, Mike Price, had endorsed Patterson for the head coaching job the day Price announced his retirement after coaching the Miners for nine seasons.

"We are delighted that Sean Kugler and his family will be returning to El Paso and UTEP," UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio said in a statement. "It's always wonderful to welcome back to the campus someone like Sean, who has longstanding ties to the UTEP family as a former player and assistant coach. His extensive and highly successful experience since then, as both an intercollegiate and NFL coach, make him an exceptional choice to serve as UTEP's head football coach, and we look very much forward to Miner football's bright future under his leadership."

"We're so pleased to get Sean back at UTEP," UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull said in a statement. "I've known him since he was a player here, including as a member of our 10-win team in 1988. He has gone on to become a terrific coach, from working with our WAC championship squad in 2000 to being a part of the Boise State team that was undefeated in 2006 and coaching in the Super Bowl with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He brings a lot of enthusiasm and experience and, most importantly, has a great love for UTEP and the city of El Paso."

Kugler said he did not hesitate to take the UTEP job when offered because he was interested in it the moment it became available. He said he would finish out the season with the Steelers and said he hoped he would be joining the Miners later rather than sooner.

Kugler said Monday would be about meeting the UTEP coaches. He said he cannot put together his own coaching staff until he is under contract.

"Just know that I'm in the process right now of putting together a quality staff. I want to get the best nine coaches that I can, again, of high character, that are going to be great teachers that the players will respond to. There are some excellent coaches on this staff and I've been spending part of the day interviewing the current staff members and there will be some staff members from this staff that will be retained because they are excellent coaches, and the other coaches that will be brought in, I can assure you that they will be of the same quality. But nobody has been hired," Kugler said at the news conference.

Kugler sprinkled jokes throughout the news conference, mentioning his lack of a sports jacket at the announcement and blamed it on his wife for packing for him.

In perhaps a too-much-information moment, he said two of his children were conceived in El Paso.

He talked about two of his sons following in his footsteps and playing college football. One of them was recruited by Michigan and will play for them next year.

"My son, Patrick committed to the University of Michigan," Kugler said. "I've always let them be themselves. I would never pressure him to change a committment. I know coach (Stull) is staring me down and I'll talk to Patrick."

"It was a package deal," Stull could be heard saying in the background.

"I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to be the next head coach at UTEP," Kugler said. "I'm very grateful to Dr. Natalicio and coach Stull. I'm hoping to build on the tremendous job that was done by coach [Mike] Price and his staff. I have been the Miners' biggest supporter from afar, and the job coach Price and his staff did was outstanding. I can't wait to work with the players in the near future. I spent 13 years as a player and coach at UTEP and loved every minute of it. I'm excited about starting a new chapter in my coaching career at a place that has so many fond memories."

Compensation is being negotiated and will require approval by the UT System Board of Regents. Kugler said he cannot have contact with recruits until he is under contract and also he cannot put together his staff until then, too.
    
Kugler is the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He joined the Steelers in 2010 after coaching offensive line for the Buffalo Bills for two years. He spent four years with the Detroit Lions and one year as the assistant head coach at Boise State.
    
He was a four-year letterman at UTEP (1985-88), playing under head coach and current UTEP Director of Athletics Bob Stull for three seasons. In 1988, Kugler led the Miners to the only 10-win season in school history and a berth in the Independence Bowl. His position coach at UTEP was current Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid.

Kugler later coached eight seasons at UTEP.

“In the midst of a lot of things, the videotape was very good," Tomlin said about Kugler's work with the Buffalo Bills when the Steelers hired him in 2010. "They got after people, they put hats on hats, they finished. The things Sean and I talked about when he came in here showed up on tape.”

Tomlin called Kugler a fundamentalist.

“He’s rock solid schematically. He coaches (his players to) finish. He believes in some of the core things I believe in in terms of winning by attrition in the trenches. Again, it all showed up on the tape.”

More from Kugler's news conference:

On his stint at UTEP as a player:  I had a great relationship with Andy Reid. He taught me more about football than anybody else. They were passionate about football. That is what U want to be accomplishing here."

"I think being an ex-player at UTEP gives you an edge. You played in the same stadium, you went to school in same buildings. So when you explain something to them they can relate to you."

Offensive philosophy: "Would like to be a two-back, two tight ends offense, probably more similar to Boise State. We want to utilize what we have talent wise. Being an offensive line coach I do believe it starts up front. It all starts there on offense. If you're a quarterback, you'll want to play in this offense."

"I'm not going to be a coordindator. I'm not going to call plays. My main job is making sure everyone is on point. I always responded to coaches that let you coach. I'm not a micromanager. I'm going to let them coach."

Defensive philosophy: "My defensive philosophy will be an attacking defense that flies to the ball. I lean toward a 3-4 base and nickel 4-2. Once we hire a coordinator we will decide."

On keeping cool: "I try not to have anxiety. I try to have a level head even when things aren't going well. I always refer to (Steelers Head Coach) Mike Tomlin. He's always the same and players respond to that. Under any circusmstnce he's not going to panic. That's my coaching style, really."

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