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Coaching search is now underway

Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05

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Edwin Delgado

   On Nov. 24, head coach Mike Price led the Miners out on the field one last time after doing so for nine seasons. Now the program will need to move in a different direction and the first step to achieve that is to hire Price’s replacement.

In his last two media appearances, Price took the time to endorse defensive coordinator Andre Patterson as his replacement.

Patterson spent 10 seasons as defensive coordinator with a number of teams in the NFL and has been part of several college programs throughout the country including Washington State, Cornell and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo where he was the head coach. For some, Patterson seems to be an obvious choice.

Director of UTEP Athletics, Bob Stull is in charge of making the hire for the Miners. Stull said that he wants to announce Price’s successor by the time Christmas comes around.

I believe Patterson, Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Sean Kugler would be great choices, and I hope Stull will pick the one that can do the best on the short  and long term to help the program keep moving forward.

The El Paso Times and Sbnation.com reported several of the possible candidates.

There are four coordinators currently working in the NFL—and three of them were part of the coaching staff when Stull was the head coach for the Miners—Marty Mornhinweg, currently with the Philadelphia Eagles, was a graduate assistant between 1986-87 for the Miners.

Kugler is also a UTEP alumnus and former offensive lineman (1984-1988), and between 1993-2000, he worked as a graduate assistant, tight ends coach and offensive line coach.

Dave Toub is another former UTEP offensive lineman, who was part of the coaching staff under Stull (1986-1988). Toub is currently the special teams coordinator for the Chicago Bears.

Dirk Koetter worked eight years as an offensive coordinator under Stull, three of them at UTEP and five at Missouri. Koetter has been part of several college programs such as Boston College, Oregon and Boise State until getting to the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2007. This year, he became the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons.

Another option would be to hire  FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) coach, Willie Fritz, who is currently in charge of the Sam Houston State Bearkats. Last year, the Bearkats lost in the FCS national FCS championship game against North Dakota State. Fritz, after 15 years as a head coach, has a 117-53 record.

Stoops has been mentioned as another possibility for the Miners. The younger brother of Sooner’s head coach Bob Stoops, spent eight seasons as a head coach for the Arizona Wild cats, where he accumulated a record of 41-50.

There are many other coaches who have been mentioned for the opening, among them are coaches who no longer have jobs or coordinators who want to become head coaches. There are some unlikely candidates such as Gene Chizik, who won a national championship with the Auburn Tigers in the 2010 season and was recently fired. Also, former Colorado head coach Dan Hawkins and Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes are also in the non-official discussions.

According to Yahoo Sports, coordinators such as Paul Petrino from Arkansas and Les Koenning from Mississippi State are seeking opportunities as head coaches.

Stull has said that UTEP will not break the bank to bring in a new coach.

The least expensive choice would be Andre Patterson, who is likely to keep most of the current coaching staff and is very familiar with the current players.

I think the program needs whoever is more capable in the area of recruiting, as it’s hard to convince prospects to come to El Paso and hopefully the recruiting will get better as time goes by.

Edwin Delgado may be reached at prospector@utep.edu.

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