A year ago at this time we were all geared up. Less than a month away from the reboot of the XFL football league. The teams were set, the coaches were in ready and games were about ready to play. Then Bang! A pandemic shut things down, all the team personnel, including coaches were laid off. Vince McMahon declared bankruptcy and hope for fans of what seemed so promising and acclaimed by most seemed to have been another victim of Covid. But now we have new ownership in place and the league is getting a new breath with games resuming in 2022, per plan.
Here in 2021 that means teams need to rebuild. It is thought that new coaches will be put in place sometime in late Spring or early summer with teams drafted again this fall. The selecting of coaches will be an important step for how the teams will look and games played. Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and their Chief Operating Officer Jeffery Pollack have had to draw from an ever changing pool of available coaches. Hopefully, Pollack can use his prior relations to retain a few of the 2022 league’s head coaches. However, with many no longer available and some possibly no longer interested, we will certainly have a crop of mostly new coaches when the league reboots. Let’s take a look at some intriguing possibilities that I feel would be good for the league, players and even the coaches themselves.
Jim Zorn – Seattle Dragons
Zorn coached the Dragons in 2020 and was very popular with fans in Seattle and the team. He also seemed to have really enjoyed being with the league and has expressed hope that it will return since the time play ceased. It would be a good fit for the new owners to bring Zorn back in 2022. Seattle would surely cheer for the return of their popular coach.
Eric Mangini – New York Guardians
The former Head Coach of the New York Jets (and Cleveland Browns) has been out of coaching for over 5 years since he was fired with the rest of the NFL San Fran 49ers Staff after the 2015. He served as a Defensive Coordinator for the 49ers in the NFL. He is still not even 50 and has a lot of experience. He is known in the New York Market and like former coach of the Guardians Kevin Gilbride a Connecticut Native. For Mangini, he is still young enough that a successful return to coaching, with a team he selects himself, can show that he still has a lot to offer. This can set up for a long XFL run or even a triumphant return to the NFL and a full renewal of his coaching career.
Lovie Smith – Dallas Renegades
For the 62 year old Smith, he may find opportunities as a head coach limited after a less than successful stint with Illinois in the college ranks and having been out of the NFL for many years. The XFL would value his experience and would offer him an opportunity to be a head coach of a professional team without either returning or having to turn back to being a coordinator. Smith has a better history in the pros and this would be a good change of scenery for him.
Jim Caldwell – Tampa Bay Vipers
Having recently been an assistant coach for the Miami Dolphins and a prior consultant to the XFL in 2020, Caldwell would make a good fit as a head coach. The 65 year old Caldwell found out the hard way that it is harder to obtain HC jobs at his age as teams seem to favor younger coordinators for new positions. Caldwell worked with Pollack and he has first hand knowledge of the league rules and how the gamers should be played. It would also be good for the league to give Caldwell a shot at running a team given his contributions in bringing the XFL back.
June Jones – Houston Roughnecks
The former Roughneck coach has also been talking about rejoining the league and expressed gratefulness of the leagues announced return He is popular in Houston where the Roughnecks were undefeated and he coached QB PJ Walker straight back to the NFL where he has seen actual game time with the Carolina Panthers. It would only make sense to bring back Jones to see if he can replicate the success in Houston and players would certainly value a coach who has already succeeded in getting an XFL player to the NFL.
Tommy Bowden – Saint Louis BattleHawks
One of the sons of Bobby Bowden has recently been portrayed in the Disney Movie Safety giving some more attention to the former Clemson Head Coach. Bowden has not coached in over a decade and never in the pro ranks. However, his experience and name recognition would certainly cause some excitement and give him a position where the stress may not be as hard as taking a big time college job again. His brother Terry just took a new head coaching gig, so maybe Tommy will want to come out and coach again too… as they say, “”coaches never stop coaching”.
Rich Rodriguez – Los Angeles Wildcats
Rodriguez has been involved in a scandal a few years ago which has limited his options. After being relieved as the Offensive Coordinator in 2019 by Ole Miss he has been out of coaching. He is a pioneer in the spread no huddle offense and should be well adapted to the fast pace of XFL play. This can go a long way in helping him rebuild his reputation. Ironically, his last game as a Head Coach was a bowl game where he coached against original XFL quarterback Jeff Brohm.
Brian Billick – DC Defenders
Former coach who has been out of football for over a decade still shows interest and love for the game having just co-authored a book in 2020 called THE Q Factor: The Elusive Search For the Next Great NFL Quarterback. Coming to the XFL would allow him a chance to go back into coaching while testing out his own theories from his book on how to better judge potential. What better way to market a book, but to go back into coaching where he can build a team himself? It is clear the NFL chances are long gone and what better way to build up up and coming young football players than taking the job with the XFL?
This list of coaches coincides with the XFL’s desire to bring cultural and racial diversity to their coaching ranks and provides players to learn from experienced coaches who really know football and can help them grow. The names are also easily recognized by college and professional football fans alike and may cause more interest. No matter who they hire, Dwayne Johnson and Dan Garcia will hire coaches who will move forward their vision of what the league should look like and how it plays.