Dec. 10, 2012
Former UTEP player and coach Sean Kugler was named the 25th head coach of the Miners on Monday. Kugler, 46, returns to the Sun City following three seasons as the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has 11 years of NFL experience, also working with the Detroit Lions (2001-05) and the Buffalo Bills (2007-09).
Kugler was on the UTEP staff from 1993-2000, and was assistant head coach at Boise State in 2006, when the Broncos finished 13-0 and beat Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl, unanimously viewed as one of the greatest postseason games in college football history.
Compensation is being negotiated and will require approval by the UT System Board of Regents.
"We are delighted that Sean Kugler and his family will be returning to El Paso and UTEP," UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio said. "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. "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."
"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."
Kugler was raised in Lockport, N.Y. His father was an assistant fire chief.
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.
He signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1989. Kugler started at guard for the Sacramento Surge in the World League of American Football in 1991.
He began his coaching career at Tampa Bay Vo-Tech High School in 1990, helping the school to its most successful season with a 10-2 record. He was the offensive line and strength & conditioning coach at Gaither High School in Tampa in 1992 before making his way back to El Paso.
During eight seasons with the Miners, Kugler served in various capacities and coached four All-Western Athletic Conference offensive linemen (Carey Clayton, Alan Gray, Jeff Seeton, Anwar White). In his final season, UTEP finished 8-4, won the second conference title in school history and faced Boise State in the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl.
In 2001, Kugler began his long-running association with the National Football League. He spent five seasons with the Detroit Lions, working with the tight ends and the offensive line, before returning to college coaching at Boise State in 2006.
He was a part of a magical campaign with the Broncos, doubling as the team's assistant head coach and offensive line coach. The explosive Bronco offense produced 222.8 yards rushing per game to rate sixth nationally. Leading the ground game was sophomore Ian Johnson, who ranked first in the country in rushing touchdowns (25) and second in rushing yards (1,755). Kugler coached a pair of All-WAC offensive linemen at Boise State, including current Denver Broncos Pro Bowler Ryan Clady.
Kugler rejoined the NFL at Buffalo in 2007. In three seasons with the Bills, he mentored two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters. In 2007, Kugler's offensive line surrendered just 26 sacks to set a team record. The Bills also had a 1,000-yard rusher in every season with Kugler on the sideline.
The highlight of Kugler's stint with the Steelers was a trip to the 2011 Super Bowl. The 2010 season may have marked Kugler's crowning achievement as a coach, as he took a patchwork offensive line decimated by the loss of both tackles to season-ending injuries and groomed it into a championship-caliber unit. Under Kugler's tutelage rookie center Maurkice Pouncey made the first of consecutive Pro Bowl appearances. A year later, the Steelers posted their highest yards per carry average in 10 years (4.4) and Ben Roethlisberger threw for 4,077 yards, the second-best figure in franchise history. Despite again facing multiple injuries to key O-Line personnel, the Steelers have lowered their sacks allowed count from 42 in 2011 to 27 this season.
Kugler and his wife, Patsy, have three children - sons Robert (19) and Patrick (17), and daughter Kali. Robert and Patrick played on high school teams that won back-to-back state titles in New York (2009) and Pennsylvania (2010). Robert was named the Class AAAA co-Player of the Year by the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association and currently is a starting freshman offensive guard at Purdue University. Patrick, an offensive tackle, is a senior at North Allegheny High School in Wexford, Pa. He is committed to play for the University of Michigan and was selected to participate in the 2013 Under Armour All-American Bowl.