The UTEP football program doesn't have much past glory to draw on when coaching positions come open.
One recent span of success was in the mid- and late-1980s under current athletic director Bob Stull, and Stull is poised to reach back to that and name alum Sean Kugler UTEP's next head coach.
The 46-year-old Kugler, who has spent the past three seasons as the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, will replace the 66-year-old Mike Price, who retired after nine seasons at the helm.
Stull and Kugler were not available for comment and there was no immediate indication when the hiring would be formally announced. Pittsburgh plays San Diego today.
A star offensive lineman who attended UTEP from 1984-88 -- the final three seasons under the head coach Stull -- Kugler will finish this season for the Steelers before formally assuming head coaching duties at UTEP.
Since concluding an eight-year coaching stint at UTEP in 2000, Kugler has spent all but one year since in the NFL, mostly as an offensive line coach, though he was the offensive line coach for the undefeated Boise State team that beat Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2006 season.
Kugler's hiring harkens back to a bright era for Miner football. After going 1-10 his redshirt freshman year in 1985, UTEP hired Stull and in both of their final seasons at UTEP in 1988 the Miners went 10-3 with a trip to the Independence Bowl.
After failing to make the Steelers as an undrafted free agent, Kugler played a year in the World League of American football before beginning a coaching career at a pair of Tampa high schools the next two seasons.
Kugler returned to his alma matter in 1993 as a graduate assistant, then was promoted to tight ends coach in 1994. He coached the offensive line from 1995-2000 before heading to the Detroit Lions for the next five years.
He was coaching the offensive line at UTEP when current offensive line coach Brian Natkin (1997-2000) was an All-American tight end. His final year before leaving UTEP coincided with current linebacker coach Robert Rodriguez's true freshman redshirt year.
Stull said when Price retired that while he couldn't make guarantees to the current assistants, he wanted some continuity with the staff. Kugler is also friends with director of football operations Nate Poss, who came to UTEP in 1997.
Defensive coordinator Andre Patterson would figure to have the option of staying, but indicated as the search was beginning that he wouldn't return as an assistant.
Kugler's name has been subject of speculation for more than a year given his ties with Stull and UTEP and was immediately linked to the job when Price announced his retirement after the Week 11 game at Southern Miss.
As recently as Friday afternoon former Boise State and Colorado coach Dan Hawkins was the focal point of speculation, but Stull denied the accuracy of that and said he hadn't made any decisions.
By Friday night online coaching search sites were saying Kugler was the next coach and that bore out.