Breaking Down Candidates For UTEP Football Head Coaching Job
Now that the Mike Price era is officially over, it is time to concentrate on his coaching successor. UTEP Athletic Director Bob Stull is conducting the search himself, and said he hopes to have a new head coach in place by Christmas. Every Miner fan at Saturday night’s football game asked me who will be the new head coach and I am not sure who Stull will hire. However, let’s look at some of the people that have been mentioned:
1. Sean Kugler – Pittsburgh Steelers Offensive Line Coach
Pros: Kugler played and coached at UTEP. He also is a tough disciplinarian, something the program has lacked for quite some time. He also was the assistant head coach with Boise State when they went undefeated in 2008.
Cons: Kugler has never been a head coach before and has plenty of job security in the NFL with the Steelers. Word is, he would be interested in the UTEP job if Stull feels he’s ready for the challenge.
2. Andre Patterson – UTEP Defensive Coordinator
Pros: Patterson has spent the last two seasons at UTEP and knows the personnel and the program. His defense is much improved from when he took over the unit, but still has a long way to go. Patterson is a veteran coach and has spent much of the last 25 years between the NFL and college. He is known as a good recruiter, and knows Texas. He’s also an affordable choice for Stull.
Cons: Patterson is a defensive mind and not an offensive specialist. Much in the same mold of Mike Price, Patterson is not the hard-nosed disciplinarian that the program needs. Can he handle the pressure of coaching a team that has not been able to establish any consistency. Also, fans haven’t forgotten Pattterson’s criticism of them when attendance started to dwindle.
3. Willie Fritz – Head Coach Sam Houston State
Pros: Fritz has won an FCS championship and made Sam Houston State’s football program relevant in a short amount of time. He was also successful at Central Missouri.
Cons: Can he do it at a Division 1 program that has no winning tradition? Like Patterson, Fritz is a defensive specialist. He’s a guy that’s won in college football, but Willie Fritz will not put butts in the Sun Bowl unless his magic touch will transform UTEP into a power.
4. Juan Castillo – former Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator
Pros: Longtime NFL assistant and one of Andy Reid’s closest friends. Although Reid fired Castillo as Defensive Coordinator, he has been lobbying for him to get a college football head coaching job and specifically mentioned the UTEP opening. Castillo would be the first Hispanic head coach in Miners history.
Cons: Castillo has been out of college coaching since 1984, and might be out-of-touch with recruiting Texas and California. He was a target at Philly and couldn’t afford a slow start at UTEP.
Football Scoop is reporting that Stull will interview Fritz and Patterson this week. Tim McManus of Phillymag.com had the story about Reid pushing Castillo for the UTEP job. Since Reid worked under Stull at UTEP, it will be interesting to see if Castillo is given an opportunity to interview. Other names like Marty Mornihnweg, Kliff Kingsbury, Major Applewhite, David Yost, and Dan Hawkins have been mentioned.
For 3 years I have been lobbying for Kugler to become the next head coach of the Miners. Stull seems very confident that he will hire the right man for the job, and was quick to point out to me on Sportstalk that Price, Billy Gillipsie, and Tim Floyd were all his hires. Keep it tuned to Sports Spin and Sportstalk on 600 ESPN El Paso for new developments on the search.