UTEP head coach and rasslin' doppelganger Sean Kugler got as close to WWE Smackdown mode as we've seen him this season. Voice rising, jaw jutting, eyes blazing. And it was fun.

At Kugler's weekly press conference, ABC7 reporter Darren Hunt, bless him, was trying to lead Kugler into an indictment of the fans -- or lack thereof -- at UTEP games. But Kugler would not lay the smacketh-downeth on disinterested El Pasoans. Check it out above, just over 11 minutes in.

"How much would a good crowd help you?" asked Hunt.

"Well, a crowd always helps, but it's like I've always said -- we haven't had 52,000 at the games, but our crowd's loyal and they're loud and whoever shows up at the game, those are the loyal fans I worry about. My job is to coach the team. I ain't worried about crowds in the stands, but I do know they energize our players."

"I know you're not worried about the crowds," said Hunt, "but I did some math this week and..."

"Well, I'm not good at math," Kugler interrupted, tugging at his shirt, presumably to let out some steam. "I'm not worried about the crowd, that's not my job. I'm worried about the game."

Hunt tried again. "Are you disappointed like I am that there haven't been as many people coming..."

"No. No," Kugler interrupted again. "I love the crowd that's there." Voice rising. "They're energized, focused; and, again, I'm more worried about a banged-up team than I'm worried about pom-poms in the stands!"

At this point, no one would have been surprised if Kugler grabbed the microphone and starting spouting catchphrases.


Said it before and I'll say it again -- bless Darren Hunt. Every time the guy shows up, somebody's going to say something memorable. UTEP athletic department officials automatically go on the defensive when he's present. What they don't seem to understand is that Hunt is as big a Miners fan as there is in El Paso. IT'S TRUE. IT'S TRUE.

But does he ask tough -- and sometimes leading -- questions? OOOOH, YEAH!

However, Kugler would not be drawn into Hunt's verbal cul de sac. IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!

Kugler really does have bigger worries. Namely, his team's next opponent -- Conference USA West Division-leading Louisiana Tech -- and a depth chart that's as shallow as a kiddie pool.

YOU CAN'T SEE ME! Because they're not there.

KNOW YOUR ROLE? Offensive tackles playing tight end. Quarterbacks playing running back. A 5-10, 185-pound wide receiver playing running back. And punt returner. Oh, yeah, and wide receiver. How does anyone know their role trying to adjust to all the injury-induced turnover?

Twelve Miners are out with season-ending injuries, which has led to a roster with 28 first-time players; putting UTEP among teams with the highest number of newbies in the nation.

Asked if he'd ever experienced this many injuries on one team in one season before, Kugler replied, "Probably not to this magnitude across the board. I've experienced it within a position group. I've experienced it maybe (on) one side of the ball or the other, but not collectively as a team." THEY WILL NEVER, EVER BE THE SAME AGAIN.

Appropriate, then, that this season's marketing slogan is "Unfinished Business". As one fan asked, can you carry a slogan over into next season?

It should be noted that Hunt's piece is about the dismal fan attendance going into the final home game for the Miners in the Sun Bowl, Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. Sadly, when people watch the story, it might be the first time they'll have heard there's a game this weekend.