Sadler's departure has UTEP seeking new coach

Updated: August 8, 2006, 6:44 PM ET
By Andy Katz | ESPN.com

UTEP athletic director Bob Stull will conduct a one-man search in the hopes of landing a head coach to replace Doc Sadler by the time school starts Aug. 21.

Sadler accepted the Nebraska head coaching job, replacing Barry Collier, on Monday. A news conference to announce him was set for Tuesday in Lincoln, Neb.

Stull said he expects a wide pool of candidates but also understands that he must act quickly with school about to start and a host of newcomers arriving.

UTEP is adding nine new players for this season, four high school seniors and five junior college transfers. The high school seniors could try to get out of their national letter of intent commitments before school starts, even if it meant the risk of sitting out the year.

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesDoc Sadler led UTEP to a 48-18 record in his two seasons in El Paso.

UTEP just picked up a commitment from Dale Vanwright, a 6-6 forward from Houston originally pegged for Colorado. Vanwright couldn't get into school in Boulder, so he was heading to El Paso to play for Sadler and new assistant Tony Benford.

Stull will speak with Benford, who arrived in El Paso in July after accepting an assistant's job at Utah State. Benford is from Hobbs, N.M., and played at Texas Tech. He coached at New Mexico and Arizona State but was looking for a new gig when ASU fired Rob Evans. But Benford will go with Sadler to Nebraska if he can't get the UTEP head coaching job.

Stull, who will also talk to UTEP assistant Randall Dickey, has had tremendous success in picking coaches. The Miners' former football coach, Stull picked Mike Price to coach the football team and tabbed Billy Gillispie to take over the troubled Miners' basketball program when Jason Rabedeaux had to abruptly resign over personal issues four years ago. Gillispie led the Miners in his second season to the NCAA Tournament.

Sadler then replaced Gillispie when Gillispie went to Texas A&M. In Sadler's first year after moving up from assistant to head coach he went to the NCAA Tournament. He fell short this past season, ending up in the NIT.

The list of candidates will likely include regional names like Bob Marlin of Sam Houston State, possibly Scott Sutton of Oral Roberts, Randall's brother, James Dickey, an assistant at Oklahoma State and a former head coach at Texas Tech, Texas assistant Rodney Terry, Alvin Brooks, a former UTEP assistant now at Texas A&M, former UTEP assistant James Holland, now an assistant at Alabama, and even former Arkansas coach Nolan Richardson, although he wasn't interested when Stull was replacing Rabedeaux.

But the most pressing quandary for Stull is quickly finding a coach who fits, considering the new coach would have almost an entirely new team to coach with so many newcomers. That's why Benford and Randall Dickey would likely have a legitimate shot at the job.

Andy Katz is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com