UTEP Football Head Coach Sean Kugler Press Conference Transcript
POSTED: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 5:11pm
UPDATED: Monday, December 10, 2012 - 5:24pm
JON TEICHER: What a terrific day this is for the University of Texas at El Paso. Thank you for joining us, as UTEP is about to introduce its new football coach, the 25th head coach in the history of the program. As UTEP heads towards its centennial celebration, I think it's fitting that the new coach is one that has a past with a great university as both a student athlete and an assistant coach. I'm sure you can visualize No. 57 protecting both Sammy Garza and Pat Hegerty and clearing the way for John Harvey.
Both Sean and his wife, Patsy, are from Buffalo, New York, but I think it's safe to say that both consider El Paso their second home. It's always my great pleasure and honor to introduce the No. 1 Miner. Dr. Natalicio has created such a tremendous amount of positive momentum on this campus as it approaches its centennial observance.
So without further delay, I give you the president of the University of Texas at El Paso, Dr. Diana Natalicio.
DR. NATALICIO: Well, good afternoon, everyone, buenos tardes. I apologize for my voice and I'm not in good form today so I'm going to try to be very, very brief.
I want to thank all of you for being here today because this is a very happy day on the University of Texas at El Paso campus. We are celebrating a new relationship with an old friend, and a member of the UTEP family. That's always very exciting, as I've often said, there is nothing better, really, than welcoming back to our campus, someone who knows us well, and who cares deeply about this university and what we accomplish.
So I just want to express my appreciation to Bob Stull, our athletic director who has done so much to bring excellence to the intercollegiate athletics program at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Bob has been a great, great athletic director over the past years, and I am always confident when there is a change in coaches that Bob will do exactly the right thing and I think in this case, we can all agree that he's done that again.
I also want to thank Richard Adauto who represents me so well in these search processes and who has spent the past couple of weeks with Bob in the search process.
I want to thank everybody in the athletic program and especially in the football program, for your patience as we make the transition. We appreciate your goodwill and we look very much forward to working together with you.
And finally, let me welcome our new football coach, who is not a new face to most of us and that makes us all feel pretty good. And we are all confident that he's going to take this program to great new heights together with all of the tier one activity on the campus on the academic side and just in time for our 100th birthday. Thank you very much.
JON TEICHER: The man who had the wisdom to select Sean Kugler as UTEP's next head football coach, is perhaps better positioned to do so, I think, than any of his colleagues across the country, given his vast experience in athletics, his own success as UTEP's football coach and his wide array of contacts across this great nation, Bob Stull was better suited than anyone else to make the choice of UTEP's new head football coach.
The director of athletics at the University of El Paso, Bob Stull.
BOB STULL: First of all, just let me say how thrilled I am to have Kuges back. As all of you know, Sean played for me back in 1988 when we won ten games and went to the Independence Bowl game.
When we start talking about new coaches, we started thinking back and Sean certainly has had a tremendous history since he left here. He was part of that 10 win team as a player. He came back and started his coaching career really as a graduate assistant and worked his way to full time offensive line coach and that was the year that we won the championship with Coach Nord.
Went on to go to Detroit with Marty Mornhinweg, who was a coach here at one point and stayed on with Mariucci. Then went back in college coaching, went to Boise State the year they went undefeated and beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, which is one of the most exciting games that anyone can ever remember if college football.
He went back to the pros. He was at Buffalo and most recently with the Steelers and actually coached in the Super Bowl in 2010 2011. So he has a tremendous background. Anyone you talk to will say, nobody is a better teacher than Sean.
I talked to Chris Petersen and I talked to Coach Tomlin and they say there's nobody that does a better job. In fact, Chris Petersen said after Sean left that he really had all of his assistant coaches design their meetings the way Sean conducts his meetings. I think we are very, very pleased to have Sean.
It's so funny, because I got a text message from Andy Reid and he said, "Have you forgiven him for almost getting me fired?"
Most of you don't remember this, but when we played Wyoming and we played for the championship, we were both I think we had one win and they had one and ESPN was covering the game. Our boy, Kuges and [Robert] Pufahl, they were real jokesters, so they have this WWE wrestling act and now ESPN gets a hold of this and wants to see it.
Unbeknownst to us, they do the whole ESPN WWE championship thing that they played before the game. And we proceed to get hammered by Wyoming. And Andy Reid said, "You're trying to get me fired, you guys are trying to get me fired."
He texted me and said, have you forgiven him for doing that, and I said, well, just recently.
It's so good to have Sean, because we have been so blessed here in the last nine years to have Mike Price, because he has brought credibility to our university and community and is our biggest ambassador. He's got a great national reputation.
Now with a chance to bring another person back that really has a tie to UTEP and to the El Paso community, I can tell that you talking to he and his wife, Patsy, they really love living here. They have a strong tie here and you can see, we have about half the 1987 team here. Although officer Black said he had a traffic ticket he was arresting him for back there, but he has so many friends here in El Paso and everybody that knows him respects him. We are very, very pleased to introduce our new UTEP head football coach.
I would like to take credit as the one man search committee but I am not, unfortunately. Every time I have done a search, I always have Richard Adauto with me, who is a representative for Dr. Natalicio and reports on a daily basis and another member of our staff, Chris Park, one of our senior associates, to listen and review and interview the candidates that we have.
So it's never a one person selection committee at all. But anyway, we feel through the process, we really felt like Sean was the guy and he did a tremendous job and it was tough. He's working another job.
We actually had his interview at nine o'clock at night, until about 11:30, because he could not get off work. That was as early was he got off work. It was a little bit more difficult for him than perhaps the others. With that, let me introduce our new football coach, coach Sean Kugler.
SEAN KUGLER: First I would like to thank Dr. Natalicio for allowing this opportunity and Coach Stull, and I thoroughly enjoyed my interview with Richard Adauto and Chris Park, and I appreciate those guys taking their time to come up to Pittsburgh to interview me, and I'm thrilled to be back in El Paso.
As Coach Stull mentioned, this is a second home for me. I spent five years here as a player, eight years here as an assistant coach. Two of my children were conceived here, and I have nothing but (Laughter) fond memories of El Paso.
If you're wondering why I don't have a sports jacket, I'm going to call my wife out right here, she's home watching this on streaming video. Patsy, I love you, but you should have packed my jacket. I'm the first coach in the history of college football to go to a press conference without a sports jacket, so I apologize for that. (Laughter).
It’s great to see old teammates and old friends and that is what makes El Paso unique, the quality of people here and that's why my family loves El Paso and are excited about coming back. I'm excited about this opportunity. This is my first head coaching opportunity. It's something that I've always wanted to do. I've been influenced by some outstanding coaches in my career, and I wish to only emulate some of them.
I do want to say that I've been UTEP's biggest fan from afar from the time I've left until now and I hope to just build upon what Coach Price has done here. I'm Mike Price's biggest fan and I think he's an outstanding coach. The energy and the enthusiasm he brought to this program and the job that he's done is outstanding, and again, I just hope to build upon that and help our program become better.
I had an opportunity today to meet with some of the players, and just wanted to reiterate to them that this is going to be some hard work and I'm looking for guys with character, guys that work hard and guys that are smart and enjoy playing the great game of football the way it should be played.
That's my No. 1 goal as a coach, to have a team go out there each week and represent the City of El Paso and go out there and represent each other as teammates and do the best job they can week in and week out.
Q. There's a lot of rumors that there's already been a defensive coordinator hired, and what kind of defense will you play?
SEAN KUGLER: That's actually not true because I still haven't been hired yet. There's still some contractual things that have to be done. (Laughter).
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.
Q. For recruiting, returning to the college game after spending a lot of time in the pros, do you think you'll have a fresh perspective on things?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, there is a recruiting aspect to the NFL game because really when you are preparing for the draft, you have to evaluate talent and see how it best fits your program. Recruiting is a lot like that.
It's a process that I enjoyed when I was an assistant coach in college. It's a challenge, and it's something that I'm looking forward to.
Having the opportunity as a coach, I've been very blessed to have the opportunity to coach in high school, college and at the professional ranks, and the one thing that's constant, I just love coaching football, and it's a challenge at all levels and that's one part of the challenge that I'm looking forward to.
Q. Can you talk about the interview process from the moment that you were contacted? Obviously you've had a relationship with Bob Stull for many years, and is it something that even beforehand, maybe a year or two beforehand, you would always talk to him, messing around, we know Mike Price is leaving one day is it a situation where you've had an eye on this job for a long period of time?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, this is certainly a place that I would always have an interest in coaching if that was available, but this just recently came about with coach Price's retirement. I was contacted, and as I mentioned, Coach Stull and Richard Adauto came out and interviewed me.
It was a unique situation because we are in the middle of a season, and came to a hotel and it was a different interview for me, because I've always interviewed for position coaching jobs. It was more of an X's and O's type thing and getting up and displaying what you know and what your philosophies are.
This is a whole different ballgame interviewing for a head coaching job because there's so much more entailed with the academic and discipline side of it. It was a unique interview and something that I enjoyed.
Q. There are reports that you were staying with the Steelers, when do you anticipate being all in and handling recruiting?
SEAN KUGLER: I'm all in with UTEP but I have an obligation to finish out the season with the Steelers. There's no possible way that I would ever leave my players during the middle of a season.
I owe that to them and I love every single one of those players. I'm hoping that it's later than sooner. We are right in the middle of a playoff run right now. We had a game that we took a step back Sunday and performed poorly, and we need to bounce back from that.
When I get back to Pittsburgh, I'm just going to do double time, double duty, and on my own time prepare for what I need to get done here, and on the Steelers time I'll give them everything I've got till the end of the season.
And I thank Coach Tomlin for allowing me to do it that way because there's not many coaches that would allow you to do it that way.
Q. Have you contacted any of the current recruits yet?
SEAN KUGLER: I haven't, again, because I'm not under contract right now. So legally I wouldn't be able to do that. But as soon as I can, I certainly will.
BOB STULL: Recruiting, where he's at, when he hires assistants, they are going to have to really first of all, the beauty of this right now, the good news, bad news, after this weekend, you can't even see them personally.
So any kind of contact will be by phone only. If he hires assistants, they will certainly scramble this week to contact them, and he'll be able to call them, personally call them, but nobody will be able to see them anyhow, like the end of the first week of January.
Q. What's it like playing under Bob Stull, again?
SEAN KUGLER: I enjoyed every minute with Coach Stull and his entire staff. I had a great relationship with Andy Reid, my offensive line coach and he taught me more about football and every single guy on that staff is what I'm hoping to accomplish with this staff.
They were passionate, they loved the game of football, they loved their players and that's what I want to be accomplishing here at UTEP with my staff and the type of attitude we want to bring.
Q. What makes a successful coach in the NFL? Why coach college football?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, I have to be honest, there's probably several college jobs I wouldn't even be intrigued in, but this is a job that intrigues me because of my history here, my love of the program and the City of El Paso and the fact that my family enjoyed every minute when we lived here. There's inner pride in me that wants UTEP to do well, and I want to be part of helping UTEP do well and that's my main goal.
Q. You know there's a fan base here, because when you were here, this place was rocking, right, so how do you feel what is it going to take to get that feeling back?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, ultimately we are going to have to win games, and we are going to have to be successful and put a product on the field that the fans want to come and see.
And I have seen this place full and I have seen it rocking and I know what it takes to get that there and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Winning games brings the fans and El Paso fans are better than anywhere I've been. They are louder, they are behind their team. When the Sun Bowl is packed, it's a pretty difficult place to play.
Q. In Pittsburgh, how do they feel about you coming over here?
SEAN KUGLER: Right now, this all happened so quickly, I had an opportunity to meet with the team and meet with my players and to be honest with you, that was very emotional. Again I'm very close with all my players. They are a very young group. We have some injured guys right now and it's tough for me even right now to be away from those guys knowing that they are injured right now.
It's going to be hard for me to leave those guys. They understand and they were very supportive and very excited for me and I appreciate them for being who they are and having that attitude.
Q. You mentioned hard work is one of your big characteristics. What are some of the other things that you like or that will happen? What do you expect?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, I want to see a team that displays mental toughness. I want to see a team that plays smart. I want to see a team that plays with passion and that enjoys playing. I want to see a team that embraces each other and that's what a true team is.
I think it starts with recruiting those type of players, having those type of coaches on your staff and teaching them daily, teaching them how to conduct themselves, teaching them how to respond with situations and ultimately on the football field, teaching them situational football and how to respond in different situations on the football field. That gives you the best chance to have a successful program.
Q. Any chance either of your sons joins you?
SEAN KUGLER: My son, Robert, he's currently a redshirt freshman and he's a starting guard for Purdue. He loves it there at Purdue. He's an outstanding student.
My youngest son, Patrick, has been committed almost a year to the University of Michigan. He's an outstanding football player. One thing with my sons, I've always let them be themselves and make their own decisions as I will all of these players here and I would never pressure him to change a commitment.
And I know coach is staring at me right now. Coach told me the only way I'm going to get this job is if Patrick changes his commitment, so I'll start the commitment when I get home.
BOB STULL: I thought it was a package deal, oh, my God. (Laughter).
SEAN KUGLER: But he is going to the University of Michigan. They spend a lot of their time there in Detroit and I'm happy, because I met the coaches at Michigan, and very ecstatic about him going there. A quality group of people and I feel good about him playing up there. Thanks, Coach.
Q. What makes you think that you can make UTEP a consistent winner?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, I'm going to do my best to make UTEP a consistent winner. I'm going to give it everything I've got. I can't promise anything beyond that but I will give everything to my staff and everything to the players and I hope that translates into wins for us. But that's what I intend to bring.
Q. What are your thoughts of playing in Conference USA?
SEAN KUGLER: I think it's an outstanding conference and there's a lot of quality teams in that conference. It's a competitive conference and we hope to be competitive week in and week out.
Q. The moment this opened, did you know you were going to take it if you were offered it?
SEAN KUGLER: The moment this opened, I was interested. And when I was contacted and I was asked my interest level, and I told them it was very high. When I was offered the job, I didn't hesitate. I immediately accepted.
Q. Can you give a time frame on when you will start hiring assistants?
SEAN KUGLER: I'm hoping to get on it as quickly as possible.
Again, the process is meeting with the coaches today and talking to those guys. They are an outstanding group of guys and I enjoyed meeting all of the ones I haven't met before in the coaching industry. But I'm looking forward to meeting with them.
And from that point, contacting coaches that I have prepared but I can't really give a time frame because sometimes that takes some time to put a staff together.
Q. Do you think you have an edge because you're an ex player, and do you think that the student athlete of today would react better to your type of coach than what we are normally used to?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, I think being an ex player at UTEP gives you an edge, because the players have sat in these same chairs and they went to school in the same buildings and they have eaten the same food and they have practiced on the same field.
So when you explain something to them, I think they can relate to you; that this guy has done the same thing that they are doing right now.
So maybe they are having a tough time or maybe they are homesick or something like that. Somebody that's been through that and that has been here explaining that to them, I think it probably hits home to those kids a little bit more.
Q. Being an offensive line guy you've worked with a lot of different offenses. What offense will you have?
SEAN KUGLER: We are going to be a multiple offense. I would like to be a little bit more two back and I would like to heavily utilize the tight ends. I would say if you can compare the offensive style that we want to play, it's probably more similar to Boise State than it would be any other offense. I want to be multiple.
But the ultimate thing is we want to utilize what we have talent wise. If we have a great group of receivers, we want to utilize them. If we have an outstanding group of tight ends, we want to utilize them and so forth.
But being an offensive line coach, yes, I do believe it all starts up front and I'm looking forward to meeting the offensive line and seeing their display of physicalness and it all starts there on offense.
But it will be a quarterback friendly offense, and I think if you're a quarterback, you're going to want to play in this offense, because a pro style offense is fun to play in.
Q. Are you going to be a coordinator?
SEAN KUGLER: Not going to be a coordinator. I'm not going to call plays.
I'm going to trust that all of my coaches are going to do their jobs and that's going to be my main job is making sure that everybody is on point and that everybody is on the same page and I'm going to let those guys coach, because as a coach myself, I've always responded best to coaches that let you coach, and I've been very blessed to have many coaches that give you that opportunity and I think that coaches flourish in that capacity.
I'm not a micro manager, I'm going to let those guys be themselves and be their best selves.
Q. How about your defensive philosophy?
SEAN KUGLER: I like an attacking defense that flies to the ball. I like them being multiple, as well, to cause confusion for the quarterback.
As far as I can tell you structurally, I lean towards a 3 4 base and a nickel 4 2 because it's very multiple and you can do a lot of things out of it. But again, once we hire a coordinator, probably get into more detail with that.
But the main thing is those guys will be well conditioned in running to the football or they won't be out there on the field.
Q. Obviously you have confidence and you've been to a lot of places and done a lot of things; what's your anxiety level right now? You haven't been a head coach and you know the pressure is on, and we all want you to do well.
SEAN KUGLER: Probably I would say one of my best strengths is I try not to have anxiety. I try to keep a level head when things are not going good. Even in situations this year, we lost three linemen for the year with three injuries in Pittsburgh; you can't panic, because then the players see you panic.
You have to have a level head to be a coach, even under the toughest circumstances. And I always refer to Mike Tomlin after the best game against a quality opponent, or if you lose a tough game or have game like we had yesterday where we didn't play well at all, he's always the same and the players respond to that. What it shows to them is that under any circumstance, he's not going to panic and the players feed off of that. I'd like to emulate that and that's how I'd like to that's my coaching style, real.
Q. Is there a different approach from pros to college?
SEAN KUGLER: Well, probably just because of the age difference, you know, when you get freshmen in, there are so many more issues that you're dealing with: Home sickness, girlfriends, that's type of things that you don't have to deal with at the professional level.
But when you talk about you get those guys in the room, there's no difference, they are all the same. You step into my room at Pittsburgh, those guys are just like the guys in college and not much different. In fact, sometimes it seems like the older they get, the less mature they get (laughter).
Patsy, she'll be here soon enough and she's excited about it and we can't wait to make El Paso our home again.
Q. Boise has had a very strong winning tradition. What are the attributes here in El Paso to attract quality reroutes?
SEAN KUGLER: When Coach Stull drove me in last night, I haven't been here since 2000 and it looked like a different place. I was amazed by the growth and the facilities, the stadium. I think the Sun Bowl is one of the most beautiful stadiums in the country.
I think the fans are passionate. I think El Paso's beauty itself; I think it's a beautiful place. I enjoy the desert and I enjoy living in El Paso. I enjoyed my time in Boise. It's very similar, the climates, as well; it's high desert. There's so much to offer but the changes that have been made here, it's just a tribute to Coach Price and his staff and the progress they have made here.
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