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Why UTEP Not a Consistent Winner In Football

Ray Sanchez© 10.16.16

I sort of feel sorry for UTEP athletic director Bob Stull. Just about every coaching selection he’s made for football or basketball since he took his present job in 1998 has been hailed as brilliant.
Charlie Bailey was the football coach when Stull took over. Stull’s first hire in football was Gary Nord, who was an instant success. In 2000, he won eight games, tied for the Western Athletic Conference championship, took the team to a bowl game and was hailed throughout the city.
Nord followed his first-year success with three straight two-win seasons.

ENTER MIKE PRICE. He, too, was an instant hit and hiring him was considered a great feather in UTEP’s hat. After all, he had been a national College Coach of the Year at Washington State and had been hired by Alabama. In his first two years, he won eight games each season and was the toast of the town.
He followed that up with six straight losing seasons.

THEN CAME Sean Kugler in 2013 with a resume that would make any college athletic director’s mouth water. Not only had he been a star player with the Miners but he had wide experience in the National Football League. He had been an assistant coach with the Detroit Lions, the Buffalo Bills and even the Pittsburgh Steelers. A sure-to-be winner with the Miners, right? Wrong.
He had a 7-6 season in 2014 but losing seasons in 2013 and 2015 and is off to a 1-4 start this year.

NO, IT’S NOT the fault of football coaches Stull has hired that has made the Miners losers on the gridiron. It’s the situation UTEP finds itself in and that is, isolation.
We are so far removed from major cities, major markets and major news centers that few of the better athletes want to come here. Which means that our football teams are going against bigger, stronger and faster players in game after game.
Oh, we’ve had some good players, like running back Aaron Jones this year, but not enough of them. And we’ve had some good teams, but not enough to sustain a winning program.

THE SOLUTION? Some say we should have stayed at our same level of competition and never left the Western Athletic Conference.
But I can’t blame Stull for wanting to improve the school’s status and competition and moving the Miners into Conference USA. It means more and better exposure for our players and our teams – and more money for UTEP.

THE OTHER major sport at UTEP, basketball, has been competitive but that’s a different story. It takes much fewer players to fill a team and means more good players are available.
And Stull has had much success in finding good coaches for that sport, too. That they haven’t stuck around long is not his fault. He’s lost most of them to those bigger and better paying schools.
Stull’s first hire in basketball was Jason Rabedeaux. Then came Billy Gillespie, Doc Sadler and Tony Barbee. The latter three produced outstanding teams and each took the Miners to the NCAA Tournament.
And finally, there’s the present coach, Tim Floyd. You couldn’t have asked for a better resume. He had been late UTEP coach Don Haskins’ assistant and had even coached the Chicago Bulls, for goodness sake.
He hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament yet but has produced winning teams.

ALL IN ALL, Bob Stull has been quite an asset to the University of Texas at El Paso. Before he took over as athletic director he coached the football team to its winningest football season ever, 10-3. And as athletic director he has not only hired highly qualified football and basketball coaches but has hired some good coaches for all the other sports.
In addition to all that, he’s greatly improved the athletic facilities to heights not even imagined before.
I highly admire the man.


Remembering the 1966 Miners on Facebook

by Ray Sanchez 07.05.15

There’s an exciting new network on Facebook. And when I say exciting, I mean exciting.

It’s called “Texas Western (UTEP) Road to Glory” where anyone can go and re-live and comment on the Miners who changed basketball with a victory over University of Kentucky in 1966.

To say the network is a big hit would be an understatement. Scores of fans who lived through that wonderful year have already commented and even posted photos of the Miners. In fact, one person, Ellington Ellis, even put up a video of the championship game.

Following are some of the comments from present and former El Pasoans I found especially interesting:


Raúl Enrique Burciaga, now living in Albuquerque I saw every home game that season thanks to my sister Margarita and her husband, who had season tickets. Plus, I watched every game that was televised and heard the games broadcast by radio only. I was 10 years old but I remember the entire season so vividly. I had a basketball signed by several of the players just a few days before they went to the Final Four. Later my niece, who was assistant location manager for “Glory Road”, was able to get the rest of the players’ signatures including Coach (Don) Haskins and most of the actors who portrayed the players. I will forever be a Miner Basketball fan.


Brian PhillipsSome of y’all know this, but when I was attending UTEP I worked for AM 690 KHEY (before the format flip) and I was asked to cover the press conference where Haskins formally announced his retirement. Back then, I knew of the TWC team but nothing more than that. Well, fast forward nearly 20 years later, I cannot be more proud to call myself a UTEP Miner and to have walked the same halls as those amazing guys. Once a Miner, Always a Miner!


Eddie Mullens — If The Shadow (Nevil Shed) had been as large then as today, he would have been dangerous … I still get a chuckle each time I think about how excited, clapping his hands, running in front of the TWC bench when he had a great play but running down the opposite sideline with his head down when he didn’t do well.


Ellington Ellis – I love this man (Shed)!  Full of humility and love … No wonder God chose him for this game.


Richard Glancey — I’ve always said, “when he (Shed) came to TWC, he was so skinny he could hide behind a telephone pole.” Retired, he did a tremendous job at UTSA. I used to see him at UTSA basketball games.


Charles Hill — Shed could hide behind a telephone pole and according to Haskins, he couldn’t guard a telephone pole.


Margarita Kanavy of El Paso posted a photo (shown here) from the movie Glory Road which showed haskinspumpingasHaskins pumping gas, which led Charles Hill to comment that “Coach said he would have said more lines if he knew what they were paying for his one line.”


AND SO IT GOES on Facebook. What fun.


TRIVIA QUESTION: In 1963, The Dodgers swept the Yankees using only four pitchers.  Can you name them? Answer at end.


SPEAKING OF Charles Hill, he’s turned into quite an asset to sports in El Paso. He’s a statistician at UTEP football and basketball games, serves on the board of directors of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame and the UTEP Athletic Hall of Fame and has written a book on sports.

He says he got the idea of a book after he read my latest book, “The Good, the Bad and the Funny of El Paso Sports History.”

My book included high school champions from El Paso only in the major sports so he decided to research state high school champions from El Paso in all sports. You can see the book now on For more information contact Hill at 590-4024 or email him at


ANSWER to trivia question: Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres and Ron Perranoski.


Coronado Cheerleaders on ‘Top of the World’

By Ray Sanchez 06.14.15


Coronado High School Cheerleaders, left to right: Front row — Carolina Quintana, Becca Shapiro, Captain Cami Rodriguez, Captain Taye Guardado, Sydney Freyermuth, Sydney Ward, Natasha Marcum; Back row — Katie Meneses, Coach Amy Stell, Amanda Villarreal, Anika Pettit, Abigail Gladden, Yasmin Martinez and Sydney Reiter).

I’m so old I remember when high school and college cheerleading used to consist of some pretty young ladies, and sometimes a young fellow, waving pom-poms and occasionally jumping up and down.

These days, cheerleaders have to be super athletes with acrobatic ability. They do back flips, balancing acts and get thrown up in the air. It’s so daring, I often hold my breath fearing for their safety.

But oh, what a show they put on.

El Paso has a great group of high school cheerleaders but today, under the direction of coach Amy Stell, Coronado High School is sitting on top of the cheerleading world.


THE CORONADO Thunderbirds won The Best ‘N’ West Mini-National Competition in Las Vegas last month. The team competed against schools from across the country and took the school division and overall cheer division
“For the first time ever, we won the whole thing,” coach Stell beamed. “We’ve won our division in the past, as recently as last year in Florida. However, this time, we won our division of Intermediate varsity with tumbling, the School Cheer Division and the overall Cheer Division including All-Star teams (50 plus). Out of 90 total points, we scored 84. WOW!!”

The team was awarded letter jackets and national championship rings similar to Super Bowl rings, only smaller.

Hurrahs and congratulations to you, T-Birds.


TRIVIA QUESTION: You probably know the answer to this one, but who is the only player to lead the Major Leagues in homeruns and ERA? Answer at end.


I LOVE HEARING from readers. Some bring back fond memories. Following is an email from Steve McKnight:

“…A friend gave me a copy of the book on coaches (Buryl) Baty and (Jerry) Simmang – ‘Champion of the Barrio.’  It was a wonderful read and I have sent copies to many of my El Paso friends, including Mary Hoover, Sara McKnight, Van Hill, Ronnie Kahn and the Shapleigh brothers.

“I grew up in El Paso in the 1950’s and 1960’s and loved sports. Nemo Hererra was my baseball coach at Coronado High School, Wayne Hansen was my Grey Y football coach at Mesita. It was a magical time. I took great pride when Bob Beamon jumped over 28 feet at the Mexico City Olympics, when the Miners won the NCAA championship in college basketball, when Jimmy Edwards won the state tennis championship and on and on and on.  All the while I read your wonderful sports writing in the El Paso Herald Post (Note: Excuse me while I blush).

“Among my many heroes, including Frank and Sara McKnight, Dalton Hill, Mary Hoover, Walter Driver, Margaret DuPont, Margaret Varner, Nolan Richardson, and many others – now I can remember you as well as coaches Simmang and Baty. Your column on ‘Champion of the Barrio’ published in El Paso Inc. was spot on.”


BY THE WAY, if you have missed one or more of my previous columns and would like to find them, just google, go to the website and type “ray sanchez columns” in the little search space. They’ll pop right up going back many years. Also, I keep getting asked by folks where they can get my latest book, “The Good, the Bad and the Funny of El Paso Sports History.” You can go to Barnes and Noble Booksellers or go on but if you want it fast and autographed just give me a call at 915-584-0626 or email me at and it’ll be out to you the next day.


LAST WEEK’S column on KVIA-TV general manager Kevin Lovell qualifying for the Boston Marathon got some nice responses but the following email from El Pasoan Alton Setliff summed it up pretty well:
“Kevin is a very nice person.  Not bad for a dude from Dalhart, Texas.”


ANSWER to trivia question: Babe Ruth, of course. I like to mention his feats now and then just to keep the memory of the greatness of The Bambino alive.

KVIA’s Lovell Qualifies for Boston Marathon – Again

By Ray Sanchez 05.31.15

Kevin Lovell has been a great asset to the El Paso sports scene klovellsince he became general manager of KVIA-TV, not only because his station covers sports events with uncanny efficiency but because he goes far beyond the call of duty and gets involved in the community.

He’s served as president of the El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame, acted as master of the ceremonies for that Hall’s induction banquet and this year almost single-handedly made sure that Nolan Richardson was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.

When Lovell found that Richardson had been elected to many other Halls of Fame, including the national Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, but that the Texas Sports Hall of Fame had not given him that honor, he started contacting people throughout Texas. He wrote letters, made phone calls, urged, pleaded and finally got Richardson inducted this year.


BUT DID YOU know that besides all that Lovell is, and has been, a marathon runner? And a good one? Really.

How good? Well, good enough to qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Now 60, Lovell started running years ago and competed in his first marathon at the age of 50. He even made it to the Boston Marathon. He stayed in shape through the years but did not run a competitive marathon until he decided to turn back the hands of time and try to qualify for the Boston Marathon after he recently turned 60.

After training the past six months he ran in the Mountains2Beach Marathon from Ojai to Ventura in California last month. It’s a fast downhill race at sea level but it’s still 26.2 miles. He finished third in the 60-64 year old age male category with a time of 3 hours and 33 minutes. That equaled his Boston Marathon time from ten years earlier and was 21 minutes under the Boston Marathon qualifying time of 3:55 for a 60-year-old man.


LOVELL SAYS, “I was very pleased to learn that I also exceeded by less than one minute the New York City Marathon qualifying standard which is much tougher – 3:34 for a 60 year old man. Boston is set up to have only runners who qualify. New York City is a race where almost all of the entrants are selected in a lottery. NYC does allow for some runners to make it via the qualifying route but they make the time tougher than Boston because they want the vast majority of the NYC runners to be everyday people and not just the fastest runners. Since I have to run Boston, I plan to run New York in November of 2016 when I will be eligible.  I won’t be running for time, however. I will be running for fun. Running a full marathon for time as fast as you can is very stressful and demanding. I love the challenge but don’t want to run that kind of race again.”


TRIVIA QUESTION: Can you name the pitcher who won the Cy Young Award while pitching for two different Major League teams in the same season? Answer at end of column.


SPEAKING OF Nolan Richardson, it’s amazing how much the man is revered. He held his 28th annual Nolan Richardson Charity Golf Tournament and Awards Dinner/Auction benefitting El Paso charities and scholarships last Saturday and people turned out in droves with open pockets. I got a chance to talk to him and he revealed a touching story about his daughter, Yvonne, who died of leukemia at age 15. Nolan had decided to turn down the offer to coach University of Arkansas because of his daughter’s illness. But, he said, she pleaded with him not to. He went on to win the NCAA basketball championships there. He had a tear in his eye as he recalled the moment.


ANSWER TO trivia question: Rick Sutcliffe, who was 4-5 for the Cleveland Indians then went to the Chicago Cubs where he was 16-1 to earn the award in 1984.

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