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Jeff Choate announced as defensive coordinator at UTEP

Athletics Director Bill Moos says Mike Leach is after two "big-time coaches" to replace his departing assistants.


In a move that's hardly been a secret, UTEP finally officially announced the hire of former WSU linebackers coach Jeff Choate as new coach Sean Kugler's defensive coordinator.

Word first started to spread a month ago that Choate likely was headed to El Paso, but neither university made an official comment on it until athletics director Bill Moos acknowledged the departure Monday on his weekly radio show. WSU also has lost inside receivers coach Eric Morris to Texas Tech -- he'll be an offensive coordinator.

But every opening presents an opportunity, and Moos said Leach is pursuing replacements.

"We've got a lot of interest in both those positions ... I'm expecting some word on that in the next seven to 10 days. I know that Mike has had people on the phone and also has talked to them personally. I know who his first choices are in both of those (openings), and it looks very exciting that that's who we're going to get.

"It would be exciting to talk about that, because it somewhat shows that we truly can be a destination at Washington State and not a stepping stone because the people that we're talking to right now, if we can close the deal, are big-time coaches who want to be at Washington State.

One coach who isn't using WSU as a stepping stone? Jim Mastro, who told Howie Stalwick he's not going anywhere:

Running backs coach Jim Mastro, who said he was Chris Ault's personal choice to replace him as head coach at Nevada, said Sunday he will remain at Washington State because of his friendship with Cougars head coach Mike Leach.

"I was never, ever going to take that job at Nevada," Mastro said. "I have a better job where I am."

As for Choate, he hasn't made any public comments yet, but his new boss had the typical effusive press release quote to pass along:

"Coach Choate is the epitome of an energizer bunny," Kugler said. "His motor runs full 24/7. I had the opportunity to work with him at Boise State. He has worked on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He was probably the top special teams coach in the country when he was at Boise State. He is one of the best recruiters you'll ever be around. He got the Texas pipeline started at Boise State. I'm excited about the unmatched energy he's going to bring on a daily basis to our program."