Category: UTEP Miners

EAST HARTFORD, CT - DECEMBER 06: Interim head coach Tom Mason of the SMU Mustangs looks on in the second half against the Connecticut Huskies during the game at Rentschler Field on December 6, 2014 in East Hartford, Connecticut.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
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UTEP adds veteran assistant Tom Mason as DC


In a press release Thursday announcing Brent Pease as the new offensive coordinator, UTEP also announced Ken Flajole as defensive coordinator.  However, the school sent out a “corrected” release a short time later that excluded Flajole.

Three days later, Flajole’s “replacement” has been found.

In another release, Sean Kugler revealed that veteran college assistant Tom Mason will coordinate the defensive side of the ball.  Mason brings a wealth of experience to Kugler’s staff, having served as a coach in one capacity or another for almost 40 years.

“Tom is an outstanding coach, who comes highly recommended and brings a lot of experience to UTEP, “ said head coach Sean Kugler. “He has 38 years of experience in coaching many of those as a defensive coordinator. …

“We feel his defensive scheme fits our personnel and I am looking forward to him working with our players.”

Mason spent 2015 as the coordinator and defensive line coach at Hawaii. Prior to that, Mason was SMU’s defensive coordinator for seven seasons. After June Jones resigned two games into the 2014 season, Mason spent the rest of the year as the Mustangs’ interim head coach.

Other collegiate stops during Mason’s four-decade career that included Fresno State, Nevada, Northern Iowa, Boise State, Portland State, and Eastern Washington.

As for Flajole? After he accepted Kugler’s offer, he received another offer for a position with the Philadelphia Eagles and accepted it.

Brent Pease lands on his coaching feet at UTEP

LUBBOCK, TX - SEPTEMBER 12: Head coach Sean Kugler of the UTEP Miners on the sidelines during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders on September 12, 2015 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. Texas Tech won the game 69-20. (Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
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A month and a half after being unceremoniously dumped by Washington, Brent Pease has landed a new coaching gig.

In a UTEP release announcing the hiring of four new assistant coaches, Pease was named as Sean Kugler‘s new offensive coordinator. Pease was actually one of two coordinators hired by Kugler according to the original release, the other being Ken Flajole on the defensive side of the ball.  However, the school sent out a “corrected” release a short time later that excluded Flajole, who it’s believed took another job instead.  Be that as it may…

Pease was in his second season as wide receivers coach, hired by Chris Petersen prior to his first year with the Huskies, before being fired last month. From 2006-10, Pease was Petersen’s receivers coach at Boise State; in 2011, he was Petersen’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach with the Broncos.

Pease left Boise following the 2011 season to become the offensive coordinator under Will Muschamp at Florida. Two years later, he was fired.

In addition to Pease, two other coaching hires were announced: Theron Aych (wide receivers)and Don Yanowsky (linebackers).

Mountain West Conference says no expansion on the horizon

The Associated Press

The Mountian West Conference had been at the center of various conference realignment or expansion rumors over the past week, ranging from the possible return of BYU to potential additions of Rice and/or UTEP. As conference leaders and administrators gathered this weekend to discuss those options and more for football and other sports, it was decided the Mountain West Conference will not seek any adjustments to the conference’s current membership.

“The entire membership expressed great support for the continued development of the Conference,” said Commissioner Craig Thompson in a released statement Monday.  “There is genuine excitement about the growth which has transpired in the less than three years under the present alignment.”

So, for now, the book is closed on possible expansion or realignment with the Mountain Wets Conference, however the conference did state it will continue to monitor the landscape moving forward, so the door for potential changes is still left open by a crack. Maybe that is good news for fans of programs like BYU, Rice or UTEP.

Thompson sparked the conversation last week by suggesting the conference would be leaving a light on for BYU. The football independent program is entering the crosshairs of some important changes with the program with a head coaching change and still evaluating the pros and cons of life as an independent now five years into the non-conference life and preparing for a sixth. Another report suggested the MWC might be discussing inviting Rice and UTEP to the conference to establish a presence in the state of Texas. UTEP has been in communication with the MWC for a few years according to past reports due to geographical struggles with competing in Conference USA.

At this point, the only thing that might cause the MWC to change its official stance is if BYU comes calling about getting back together in the future as a conference member. Odds are the MWC would find a way to welcome BYU back to the fold, but would that require the conference to add one more member to keep the numbers even? If so, then Idaho, New Mexico State, UTEP and Rice may have to start making some sales pitches to the conference.

Is Mountain West Conference looking for expansion real estate in Texas?

The Associated Press

While we may not be seeing any seismic shifts on the conference realignment landscape any time soon now that the Big 12 learned it can get a team in the College Football Playoff with just 10 members, the Mountain West Conference is a bit of a different story. After commissioner Craig Thompson addressed the idea of leaving a light on for BYU, the question has shifted to who would join BYU to keep balance in the conference. Whether or not BYU is part of the equation, two schools worth keeping an eye on are Rice and UTEP.

A report published by Dennis Dodd of added a spark to the conversation surrounding Rice and UTEP with the Mountain West Conference scheduled for some meetings this weekend between athletic directors and other leaders. Per Dodd, there is a thought Rice would be the more desirable option base don Rice’s academic standing, but UTEP has been touching base with the MWC for a few years now as they sit isolated from the majority of Conference USA’s membership. UTEP also has some history with a majority of the members of the MWC dating back to the old WAC line-up.

The MWC currently has 12 football members, and Conference USA has 13, including Rice and UTEP. If the Mountain West were to add BYU, plucking either Rice or UTEP from Conference USA would keep some form of balance and perhaps keep Conference USA from feeling an urge to take on another member. Conference USA has already managed to keep things rolling by adding some programs with more of a long-term plan for growth. Losing Rice or UTEP would likely result in Conference USA sliding one member from the East Division into thew West Division to balance out the division line-up, perhaps Middle Tennessee or Western Kentucky (or go the Big 12 route and slide Marshall into the Texas-heavy West Division). Keep in mind, Conference USA is slated to welcome back UAB starting in 2017.

Adding Rice or UTEP would help get the MWC into the state of Texas, which is a state ripe of high school football talent. The conference lost its presence in the state when TCU left for the Big East Big 12. From a marketing perspective, if the Mountain West Conference could lure Rice to the conference, it would help gain some viewership in the Houston TV market. Competing head-to-head with the Big 12 and SEC in Houston may still be a mighty uphill challenge, but in a world where Rutgers was a top target for the Big Ten, the MWC taking aim on Rice makes plenty of sense. Either way, just setting foot in Texas is something the MWC should find appealing.

There is no timeline for any possible expansion at this time though. There may not even be any movement on the push to expand this weekend, but it should be expected to be a discussion topic that leads to further evaluation of the landscape for the conference and beyond as it prepares for every possible scenario involving BYU or not. Expansion for the sake of expansion is not a wise move.

WKU QB Brandon Doughty headlines All-Conference USA team

WKU wins 35-19 over FAU
The Associated Press
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League champions Western Kentucky led the All-Conference USA team with six First Team announcements, but runner-up Southern Miss placed the most overall players on the first and second teams with 10.

Louisiana Tech posted nine first- and second-team honorees, followed by WKU with eight.

And new North Texas head coach Seth Littrell, in his second day on the job, got a reminder why he’s in Denton, as the Mean Green were shut out of the first- and second-teams for the first time since 1957.

The first and second teams can be found below:

First Team Offense

QB — Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky, Sr.
RB — Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
RB — Jalen Richard, Southern Miss, Sr.
OL — Sebastian Johansson, Marshall, Sr.
OL — Jaylen Hunter, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
OL — Andrew Reue, Rice, Sr.
OL — Cameron Tom, Southern Miss, Jr.
OL — Forrest Lamp, Western Kentucky, Jr.
TE — Tyler Higbee, Western Kentucky, Sr.
WR — Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
WR — Richie James, Middle Tennessee, Fr.
WR — Taywan Taylor, Western Kentucky, Jr.

First Team Defense

DL — Michael Wakefield, Florida International, Sr.
DL — Trevon Coley, Florida Atlantic, Sr.
DL — Trey Hendrickson, Florida Atlantic, Jr.
DL — Vernon Butler, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
LB — Evan McKelvey, Marshall, Sr.
LB — T.T. Barber, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
LB — Nick Holt, Western Kentucky, Sr.
DB — Richard Leonard, Florida International, Sr.
DB — Xavier Woods, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
DB — Kevin Byard, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
DB — Kalan Reed, Southern Miss, Sr.

First Team Specialists

K — Garrett Schwettman, Western Kentucky, Sr.
P — Dalton Schomp, Florida Atlantic, Jr.
KR — Deandre Reaves, Marshall, Sr.
PR — Richard Leonard, Florida International, Sr.
LS — Lance Schuffert, Southern Miss, Sr.

Second Team Offense

QB — Nick Mullens, Southern Miss, Jr.
RB — Kalif Phillips, Charlotte, Jr.
RB — Ray Lawry, Old Dominion, So.
RB — Ito Smith, Southern Miss, So.
RB — Anthony Wales, Western Kentucky, Jr.
OL — Michael Montero, Florida International, Jr.
OL — Reggie Bain, Florida Atlantic, So.
OL — Darrell Brown, Louisiana Tech, Jr.
OL — Jens Danielsen, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
OL — Michael Selby, Marshall, Jr.
OL — Rashod Hill, Southern Miss, Sr.
TE — David Morgan II, UTSA, Sr.
WR — Ed Batties, Middle Tennessee, Sr.
WR — Zach Pascal, Old Dominion, Jr.
WR — Mike Thomas, Southern Miss, Sr.

Second Team Defense

DL — Larry Ogunjobi, Charlotte, Jr.
DL — Jarquez Samuel, Marshall, Sr.
DL — Michael Smith, Southern Miss, Sr.
DL — Jason Neill, UTSA, Sr.
LB — Anthony Wint, Florida International, So.
LB — Nick Thomason, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
LB — T.J. Ricks, Old Dominion, Jr.
LB — Brian Anderson, Southern Miss, Sr.
DB — Cre’von LeBlanc, Florida Atlantic, Sr.
DB — Bryson Abraham, Louisiana Tech, Sr.
DB — Jeremy Cutrer, Middle Tennessee, Jr.
DB — Bennett Okotcha, UTSA, Sr.

Second Team Specialists

K — Jonathan Barnes, Louisiana Tech, So.
P — Tyler Williams, Marshall, Sr.
KR — Kylen Towner, Western Kentucky, So.
PR — Deandre Reaves, Marshall, Sr.
LS — Matt Cincotta, Marshall, Sr.