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Stranded Pitt CFB Players Get Ride from UTEP CBB Coach to Sun Bowl on Christmas Day

Adam WellsDecember 27, 2022

BIRMINGHAM, AL - DECEMBER 30:  UTEP Miners head coach Joe Golding during the game between the UAB Blazers and the UTEP Miners on December 30, 2021 at Bartow Arena in Birmingham, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

UTEP basketball coach Joe Golding exhibited his holiday spirit to help several Pittsburgh football players get to El Paso, Texas.

Pitt football coach Pat Narduzzi told reporters on Monday that Golding and his family drove three Panthers players—Samuel Okunlola, Jake Frantl and Hudson Primus—from Dallas to El Paso after their flights on Christmas Day were canceled.

"Joe Golding, head basketball coach at Texas-El Paso here in town ... him and his wife and child, they picked up and took our three guys and drove them because the flight was delayed to get them here for practice," Narduzzi said. "They got here late last night. Just want to give a shoutout to those guys."

Golding tweeted Okunlola, Frantl and Primus are "terrific young men" who made him a Panthers fan after they "educated me on Pitt football and Stack'd burgers."

Joe Golding @CoachJoeGolding

My family and I were blessed to give a ride to Samuel, Jake,and Hudson. They were terrific young men that represented Pitt football in a first class manner. I educated them on West Texas, they educated me on Pitt football and Stack'd burgers! I'm a Pitt football fan now! <a href="https://t.co/assHQx1RhL">https://t.co/assHQx1RhL</a>

In an interview with KTSM NBC in El Paso, Golding said he "didn't even think twice about" helping out in the situation, and Narduzzi gave him the go-ahead after the players exchanged information with the UTEP coach to make sure everyone was safe and comfortable with the situation:

Colin Deaver @ColinDeaverTV

Just spoke with <a href="https://twitter.com/UTEPMBB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UTEPMBB</a> coach Joe Golding about driving his family + 3 <a href="https://twitter.com/Pitt_FB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Pitt_FB</a> players 9 hours from Dallas overnight to get them to El Paso for the Sun Bowl (<a href="https://twitter.com/TonyTheTigerSB?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@TonyTheTigerSB</a>). <br><br>"I didn't even think twice about it...I would hope someone would do that for my kids." <a href="https://t.co/0sOwT383X7">pic.twitter.com/0sOwT383X7</a>

Golding added the players made it to all of their scheduled events and were on time for Monday's 9 a.m. practice.

The Panthers are in El Paso to play UCLA in the Sun Bowl on Friday.

Golding is in his second season as head basketball coach for the Miners. The 47-year-old has a 28-18 career record at UTEP, including an 8-4 mark through 12 games this season.