Saturday, December 8, 2012

Steelers OL Coach Sean Kugler Leaves For Alma Mater

According to Asher Wildman of the ABC affiliate KVIA7 in El Paso, who first broke the story, Sean Kugler has been hired as UTEP's head coach:

MacGyver is moving to Texas.

Kugler, the Pittsburgh Steelers outstanding offensive line coach, will finish out the season, but has indeed accepted the UTEP job. Losing Kugler is a serious blow.

Kugler was liked by his players and coaches. You never heard the players speak of him in any way but with respect, and he wasn't reticent about his love for coaching the OLine or his players.

"The reason I like coaching offensive line is I like coaching all five guys collectively," Kugler said in a 2011 interview with 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh. "It's a challenge to get all five guys to play together as a unit, and I enjoy coaching the entire group. There's not a better position on the field to coach. The offensive linemen, those are usually the guys that are your most fun to be around, your must humble, and your hardest working guys. And I love my group here in Pittsburgh."

Kugler attended the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) from 1984 to 1988, where he earned letterman honors in football all four years. His 1988 team played in the Independence Bowl. His position coach at UTEP at the time was Andy Reid, future head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Kugler signed with the Steelers as an undrafted free agent in 1989, but after sustaining a concussion in training camp, he was released.

He joined the Steelers as OLine coach in 2010 following the firing of Larry Zierlein. He had also previously replaced Zierlein as assistant line coach for the Bills in 2007.

In his first coaching season with the Steelers, they made it to the Super Bowl despite season-ending injuries to both starting offensive tackles, Max Starks and Willie Colon, and the presence of a rookie starting center, Maurkice Pouncey, who ended up not playing in the NFL's final game because of his own injury.

The Steelers would go on to lose that Super Bowl, only their second loss in eight appearances, 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers.

Kugler has been credited with holding together the OLine with duct tape, chicken wire or any way he could. Because of that, he earned the nickname "MacGyver" from many Steelers fans in Steeler Nation.

Each position on the line had an injury during his tenure, but, "the standard is the standard." The team's "next man up" philosophy has applied to the OLine as much as any other positions on the team. Maybe more. MacGyver will be missed.

The question now naturally is whether the Steelers will look in-house or not for his replacement. The Steelers have gone outside lately when looking for replacements at their coaching positions, but Behind The Steel Curtain has already suggested that another "Shaun" may be the inside choice. -

The article also suggests that two former Steelers currently coaching elsewhere may be candidates. Whomever it may be will soon enough be disseminated. Until then, we have MacGyver through the end of the season, however long that lasts. As long as he has a fair amount of glue and bobby pins, that could still be awhile.