POSTED: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 11:51am
UPDATED: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 5:22pm
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.
The Kugler File
Born: 8/9/66 (Age 46)
Hometown: Lockport, N.Y.
Alma Mater: UTEP, 1989 (B.S. from South Florida, 1991)
Children: Robert (19), Patrick (17), Kali (11)
Desales Catholic High School 1981-84
Pittsburgh Steelers 1989
Sacramento Surge (World League) 1991
1990-91 Tampa Bay Vo-Tech HS Offensive Line/Defensive Line Coach
1992 Gaither High School Offensive Line/Strength & Conditioning Coach
1993 UTEP Graduate Assistant/Defensive Line Coach
1994 UTEP Tight Ends/Asst. Strength & Conditioning Coach
1995-2000 UTEP Offensive Line Coach
2001-03 Detroit Lions Tight Ends Coach
2004-05 Detroit Lions Offensive Line/Tight Ends Coach
2006 Boise State Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line Coach
2007 Buffalo Bills Assistant Offensive Line Coach
2008-09 Buffalo Bills Offensive Line Coach
2010-12 Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line Coach
2013- UTEP Head Coach
Four-year letterman at UTEP … helped the Miners to 21 wins his last three seasons as a starting guard – including 10 his senior year, with an Independence Bowl berth … second team All-WAC in 1988 … named to the all-time UTEP team by Athlon magazine … selected to the National Strength and Conditioning Association first team All-American Strength Team in 1987 and 1988 … signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1989 … started at guard for the Sacramento Surge in the World League of American Football in 1991.
Part of a Tampa Bay Vo-Tech High School coaching staff that led the team to the winningest season in school history (10-2) in 1990 … coached four All-WAC players at UTEP (Carey Clayton, Alan Gray, Jeff Seeton, Anwar White) … was the offensive line coach for the Miners when they had 1,000-yard rushers in 1995 (Toraino Singleton) and 1999 (Paul Smith) … the Miners had 15 games with 400+ yards of offense his last two seasons (1999-2000) and averaged 32.3 points in 2000, the year they finished 8-4 and won the WAC title … UTEP ranked 22nd nationally in scoring offense and 27th in passing offense (248.2 ypg) in 2000 en route to playing in the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl ... spend three seasons as tight ends coach for the Detroit Lions (2001-03) before adding the offensive line to his list of responsibilities in 2004 … returned to the college ranks in 2006 as assistant head coach and offensive line coach at Boise State … the Broncos were the only unbeaten team in Division I-A that year, fashioning a 13-0 mark with a thrilling 43-42 victory over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl … Boise State ended the campaign rated sixth nationally in rushing offense (222.8 ypg) … Bronco running back Ian Johnson rushed for 1,755 yards and 25 touchdowns in ‘06, totals that ranked second and first nationally … among Kugler’s protégés at Boise State was offensive tackle Ryan Clady, a future Pro Bowler with the Denver Broncos, an All-WAC honoree Jeff Cavender … joined the Buffalo Bills’ staff for the 2007 season, working primarily with the offensive tackles, and was elevated to offensive line coach in January, 2008 … tutored left tackle Jason Peters to consecutive Pro Bowl appearances in 2007 and 2008 … Kugler’s 2007 O-Line allowed just 26 sacks to establish a team record … the Bills’ offensive line paved the way for three consecutive 1,000-yard rushers (Marshawn Lynch 2007 & 2008, Fred Jackson 2009) … hired on January 14, 2010 as the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive line coach … the Steelers outrushed 17 of 19 opponents in 2010 and averaged 120.3 yards per game despite losing both starting offensive tackles to season-ending injuries … coached first-year center Maurkice Pouncey, who responded by becoming the first Steelers rookie offensive lineman to make the Pro Bowl since 1956 … coached in the 2011 Super Bowl against the Green Bay Packers … Pittsburgh posted its highest yards per carry average in 10 years (4.4) in 2011 … with the offensive line setting the table, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for the second-most yards in franchise history (4,077) with the second-most completions (324) … in the last 10 games of the season, the Steelers converted on 36-of-42 red zone opportunities with 23 touchdowns and 13 field goals … Pouncey was selected to the Pro Bowl for the second straight year and was voted first team All-Pro … Kugler was instrumental in Steeler linemen earning the Joe Greene Great Performance Award in back-to-back years (Pouncey in 2010, Marcus Gilbert in 2011) … the Steelers’ offensive line has come on late this season after enduring a myriad of injuries … Pittsburgh has yielded 27 sacks, down from 42 in 2011, despite playing the bulk of the season without Gilbert (ankle) and first-round pick David DeCastro (torn MCL).
What They’re Saying About Sean Kugler
“Sean played at UTEP and he loves the university. That’s number one. He brings a lot of intensity to the program. The players are going to love him. He’s hard-nosed and he expects the most from them. He’s well respected by the players, and that goes a long way. I’m really proud of Sean and I’m excited. Everybody in El Paso needs to get behind him, because he’s going to do a great job. I’m expecting big things at UTEP with Sean in charge.”
- Charlie Bailey, former UTEP head coach (1993-99)
“Coach Kugler was a great offensive line coach who really helped me develop as a young player at Boise State. I loved how he related to his players. He was honest and always kept it real, but at the same time, he was very down to earth. He had a tremendous impact on me and our team at Boise, and I wish him all the best at UTEP.”
- Ryan Clady, two-time Pro Bowler, Offensive Tackle, Denver Broncos
“We basically started that whole thing off together, since I was a freshman during his second year as offensive line coach [at UTEP]. I was fortunate to have him as my coach the whole time I was there. We learned to be accountable for everything that we did. That was one of the biggest things that I pulled from him. When you’re out on the field, be accountable, because people are relying on you to do your job. He always kept you grounded, whether it was a tough day or a great day. He kept you leveled out. We adapted his mentality. We played tough. We weren’t the best looking guys on paper, and 75 percent of the time we should’ve gotten beat. But we took it upon ourselves to bring a tough attitude and make things happen. We were throwback players.”
- Carey Clayton, UTEP All-WAC offensive lineman (1997-2000)
“Sean was an outstanding player at UTEP when we had the great run in the mid to late 80’s. There is always something special about someone who goes back to his alma mater and knows what it was like when they were winning big there. Bob Stull made a great choice in Sean -- someone who will represent the university well and knows what UTEP is all about. He is well respected in the coaching profession, and that will aid him in the recruiting battles. He will put together a fine staff. He cares about the players and the university. What more could you ask for at UTEP?”
- Dirk Koetter, Offensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons
"I had the privilege of working alongside several excellent football coaches in my career. Sean Kugler is certainly one of them. His knowledge of both the running game and the passing game separates him from other offensive coaches. He will no doubt build a tough, hard-nosed football team at UTEP and a program that they can be very proud of for a long time."
- Steve Mariucci, Former NFL Head Coach
“Sean is a bright, creative, talented and tough coach who will be outstanding at UTEP.”
- Marty Mornhinweg, Offensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles
“Sean is one of the best football coaches that I have ever worked with, and probably an even better person. He is extremely smart and a lot of fun to be around. I know he will keep the game interesting and the guys who play for him will have a really good time.”
- Chris Petersen, Head Coach, Boise State
“I think is it is awesome, and a great opportunity for him. He has done a lot for us and helped us along this path in the NFL, especially me. For him to get that opportunity is great. I love that guy and hope the best for him. He is a players' coach. He loves you but at the same time he knows how to put things in perspective for you and knows how to go out and get on you when needed. Anybody who gets that guy as a head coach is going to have a great team and a great opportunity to be successful.”
- Maurkice Pouncey, two-time Pro Bowler, Center, Pittsburgh Steelers
“I think UTEP has gotten a tremendous football coach, and one with high standards, a phenomenal personality and a great football mind. He also has a vested interest in the university, having gone to school there and having played for Bob Stull. There’s a great connection. I know he’s going to do a great job for UTEP.”
- Andy Reid, Head Coach, Philadelphia Eagles
“I would like to congratulate Sean on his new position at UTEP. The Miners are getting a tremendous coach and even though we are sad to see him leave the Steelers, we are excited for him to return to his alma mater and lead their program. We are grateful for his contributions in Pittsburgh, and we wish Sean and his family nothing but the greatest success at UTEP.”
- Mike Tomlin, Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers