The resignation comes amidst an 0-5 start for the Miners, who are on their way to a third-straight win-declining season after peaking with a 7-6 mark in 2014, Kugler's second season as head coach. He was 18-36 overall at his alma mater — where he was an offensive lineman from 1984-88 — after arriving in December 2012.
"My love for UTEP is in my heart forever, and my love for all the players that I have coached here is even stronger," Kugler said in a statement. "We have accomplished many things together — a bowl appearance in 2014, a perfect APR score, the highest GPA in team history and countless players getting their degrees. I am so proud of my players and their behavior off the field representing El Paso as great ambassadors in community service."
TENNESSEE TURMOIL?: 5 Replacements for Butch Jones at Tennessee
With Kugler out, who might UTEP tap as their next head coach? Here are five possibilities, all of whom are currently coaching in the state of Texas.
Current Position: Head Coach – Prairie View A&M
The 36-year-old former Clemson and Citadel quarterback was an assistant Middle Tennessee (2007-11) and Alcorn State (2012-14) before taking the Prairie View A&M job in 2015. He went 15-6 his first two seasons and is 2-2 in 2017. Though he might be at least a year or two away from an FBS job, this fit makes sense.
Current Position: Offensive Coordinator – North Texas
This is the sexy pick — and likely most popular possibility — for UTEP fans.
The former Texas Tech quarterback is just 32 years old and in just his second season as North Texas offensive coordinator. However, he's worked wonders with the Mean Green offense, leading a unit that ranked 125th nationally in scoring in 2015 to 99th in 2016 and 25th in 2017.
The experience isn't there but it's unlikely UTEP has a better chance at a young, fast-rising coach.
Current Position: Assistant Head Coach and Offensive Line Coach – UTEP
Of all the leftover UTEP assistants, Spencer Leftwich makes the most sense.
A Texas native who's spent almost his entire career in the southwest, Leftwich has done brilliant work with the Miners' offensive line and running game since arriving in 2013. They topped 2,200 rushing yards that year for the first time in two decades and allowed just 12 sacks in 2015.
He's never been a head coach.
Current Position: Head Coach – Sam Houston State
You'll see K.C. Keeler's name repeatedly linked to the UTEP job in the coming weeks.
The 58-year-old led Sam Houston State to a 34-10 record in his first three seasons and two appearances in the FCS semifinals (3-1 record in 2017). Prior to arriving in Huntsville, he had no strong ties to Texas. In fact, he was a strong northeastern man — born in Pennsylvania, played in Delaware and coach in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware.
He's established a nice recruiting base in the state in just three-plus years and is an elite talent developer.
Current Position: Head Coach – West Texas A&M
This is a major leap. Very rarely does a D2 or D3 coach leap to the FBS as an assistant, let alone a head coach. Could Hunter Hughes do it?
He led a dominating defense at CSU-Pueblo from 2008-16 before taking the West Texas A&M job this year. The Buffaloes' 2017 record (2-3) and Hughes' minimal FBS experience (Colorado, 2003-06, and Tennessee, 2007) won't excite anyone but he's an intriguing name that could slowly return the Miners to respectability.