Image Credit: (Jerome Minton/USA Today Sports)
Written by: Nicholas Mullick Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholas-mullick-354076184/
With the 2023 XFL Season fast approaching it is a time where many football fans are excited. The question is who will be the head coach of the respective teams in the XFL. Ok, I will admit It has been revealed for a few months now but I want to dive deep on each coach. So here we go, let's start with the Arlington Renegades.
Arlington Renegades - Bob Stoops
He’s baaack. Bob Stoops is yet again returning to the coach of the Renegades to be their head coach for the upcoming 2023 season. He did play as a Cornerback for the University of Iowa for 4 years. Stoops never got drafted or played in the NFL and thus he transitioned into a coaching career.
He would start his coaching career with the University of Iowa and became a graduate and coaching assistant from 1983-1987. In 1988 he became a coaching assistant with Kent State University. From 1989-1990 he worked with Kansas State University as there defensive back coach and even got promoted to being the co-defensive coordinator from 1991-1995. Stoops then worked with the University of Florida and became the assistant to the head coach/defensive coordinator from 1996-1998.
In 1999 He would truly make his mark in the NCAA during his time as the head coach of Oklahoma Universities football team. His head coaching record is 191–48 and he was their head coach until 2016. He also was their interim coach in 2021 when Lincoln Riley took the USC head coaching job.
It is not a shock that the Renegades brought back Stoops as it shows a sense of loyalty to their employees.Even though the Renegades went 2-3 they would have had a better record if the season was not canceled due to the pandemic. It will be interesting to see how Stoops' technique will be during this season.
D.C. Defenders - Reggie Barlow
A nice addition coaching wise in the XFL by bringing in Reggie Barlow. Barlow played many years in the NFL as a wide receiver/special teams player. He played with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Once his football career ended he transitioned in a coaching role.
Barlow was a solid coach in the NCAA. In 2005-2006 he was the quarterback coach for Alabama State. Barlow then got promoted to being the head coach in 2007. He coached until 2014 where his contract was not renewed. During that time his coaching record was 49-42. His best years with Alabama State was from 2010-2012 as he was in 1st place of the east division. In 2016 he got another opportunity to coach at Virginia State. He coached there from 2016-2021 where he had a 34-16 coaching record there.
In total Barlow’s coaching record is 83-58 which is a pretty good record. This is a big opportunity for Barlow to have and if he does well here, then he should be the coach for years to come. Especially at the age of 50 he may even coach in the NFL if things roll the right way.
Houston Roughnecks - Wade Phillips
Probably the most recognizable coach from the list. Wade Philips is one of the best defensive minds in NFL History. He has coached some great defenses and is the main reason why the Broncos won Super Bowl 50 due to how great the Broncos defense was under his scheme. It wasn’t because of Peyton Manning as he was awful during his last season in the NFL.
Philips has a very long resume coaching. He started coaching in 1969 where he was a graduate assistant with the University of Houston. From 1970-1972 he was the defensive coordinator for Lutcher Stark High School. Philips would join the NCAA with Oklahoma State as a linebacker coach from 1973-1974. He would join Kansas in 1975 as a defensive line coach. He made his mark in the NFL with the Houston Oilers as a defensive line coach from 1976-1980. He then worked with the New Orleans Saints as a defensive coordinator from 1981-1985 and even became their interim head coach when his father Bum Philips stepped down. He went 1-3 as the interim head coach with the Saints. Philips then joined the Philadelphia Eagles as there defensive coordinator from 1986-1988.
He then worked for the Denver Broncos from 1989-1988 as a defensive coordinator and in 1993-1994 as their head coach. He had a 16-16 record as the head coach of the Broncos. Once he left the Broncos, he worked for the Buffalo Bills as there defensive coordinator from 1995-1997. He got promoted to head coach once Martin Levy decided to retire and he was a pretty good head coach from 1998-2000 as his record was 29-19. He would then join the Atlanta Falcons as a defensive coordinator from 2002-2003 and became the interim coach in 2003. He was 2-1 as the interim head coach.
The San Diego Chargers once 2003 ended would hire Philips to be their defensive coordinator from 2004-2006. He became the Head Coach for the Dallas Cowboys from 2007-2010 where his record was 34-22. Philips then worked with the Houston Texans as their defensive coordinator from 2011-2013 and even became the interim head coach in 2013. He worked with the Denver Broncos from 2015-2016 and even got a superbowl ring when the Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50. His final stop in the NFL was with the Los Angeles Rams as a defensive coordinator from 2017-2019.
Now that is a very long schedule and Philips is more than qualified for this role as the Head Coach/General Manager. However, Philips is 75 and even though it is unclear how long the XFL is going to last. I am not so sure Philips will be the head coach of the Roughnecks for a very long time. However it is a great start having Philips as the head coach and I would love for Philips to win one more time before he finishes his coaching career in football.
Orlando Guardians - Terrell Buckley
Terrell Buckley is another case of a former football player turned coach. Buckley played as a cornerback for many teams including the Green Bay Packers, Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, New York Jets, and New York Giants from 1992-2005.
When he retired in 2006 Buckley transitioned into a career in coaching. He started with Florida State as a Safeties Assistant and even got promoted to a wide receiver assistant in 2008. Buckley also became a Graduate Assistant in 2009. Something cool with Buckley was that he helped out with Florida State’s Weight Room from 2010-2011. In 2012 he would work with the University of Akron as the cornerback coach from 2012-2013. After that he went to Louisville and became their Cornerback coach from 2014-2015. Mississippi State then gave him an opportunity to work as a Cornerback and Safeties coach and was with them from 2016-2019. When Lane Kiffin became the new head coach of Ole Miss, Terrell Buckley then went to Ole Miss to serve as the Cornerback coach from 2020-2021. Now he is the Head Coach of the XFL Orlando Guardians.
Buckley is clearly going to be a defensive minded coach in the XFL with his experience mostly on the defense. He has offensive experience as well which is going to help as hit time as the head coach. While he never was a defensive or offensive coordinator, I feel that this is a very good hire by the Guardians and I wish them luck this season.
San Antonio Brahmas - Hines Ward
Hines Ward sounds familiar, because he is one of the best wide receivers in Pittsburgh Steelers history. From 1999-2011 he played as a wide receiver where he had 1,000 catches for 12,083 receiving yards and even caught 85 touchdowns. Once his career ended around 6 years later he started his coaching career as an offensive intern during the 2017 NFL Season. A few years later he joined the New York Jets as an offensive assistant in 2019 and would remain in that role until 2020 when Jets head coach Adam Gase got fired. Ward would then be a part of Flordia Athletic University as a wide receiver coach in 2021. Now he is the head coach of the San Antonio Brahmas.
Look I will respect Hines Ward for what he has done in the NFL, but this is a bit of a risky hire. Yes he has coaching experience, but he has never had the opportunity to run an offense. However, despite my concern with his lack of experience I always believe that everyone deserves a chance. I hope he does well with the Brahmas and proves my concerns with this hiring wrong.
Seattle Sea Dragons - Jim Haslett
Haslett has had a long and intriguing coaching career. Before he coached he also played as a linebacker. In college he played for the University of Buffalo. He was drafted by the Buffalo Bills with the 51st overall pick in the second round of the 1979 NFL Draft. He played with the Bills from 1979-1985 and with the New York Jets in 1987.
When he retired, he of course transitioned into a coaching role and has had a lot of experience. He rejoined the University of Buffalo as an assistant coach from 1988-1990. Then Haslett went to the World League of American Football and was a positional coach for the Sacramento Surge from 1991-1992.
Haslett started coaching in the NFL when he was hired by the Las Vegas Raiders as a linebacker coach from 1993-1994. He would eventually be the linebacker coach for the New Orlean Saints in 1995 and eventually got promoted as the defensive coordinator in 1996. From 1997 he became the defensive coordinator for the Steelers until 1999. Haslett would return to the New Orleans Saints and became their head coach from 2000-2005 and had a coaching record of 45-51. Haslett worked with the St. Louis Rams as a defensive coordinator from 2006-2008 and even became the interim coach in 2008. Haslett would go to the UFL (United Football League) as the head coach of the Florida Tuskers and even went undefeated in the regular season. Unfortunately he would lose in the UFL Championship game. From 2010-2014 he would be the Washington Redskins defensive coordinator. In 2015 he was in a consultant role with Penn State University and returned to the Cincinnati Bengals as a linebacker coach from 2016-2018. In 2020-2021 he would help coach the Tennessee Titans as a linebackers coach. Now he is a part of the XFL’s Seattle Sea Dragons as their head coach.
Now Haslett is 66 and who knows how long he has left to coach, however with his experience, he deserves another chance at being a full time head coach. Maybe he can recapture his first few years of his head coaching tenure with the New Orleans Saints. This is a solid hiring in the XFL and lets see if this pans out.
St. Louis Battlehawks - Anthony Becht
Even though I was very young, Anthony Becht was a former New York Jets 1st Round Pick 27th Overall in the 2000 NFL Draft. Becht did not truly work out and he was yet another TE that could fill the need lost since Mickey Shuler left the team. He also played with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, Arizona Cardinals, and Kansas City Chiefs However something about Becht that is an intriguing move is that Becht has little to no coaching experience.
This is a bit of a head scratcher hiring Becht to be the head coach of a football team. Especially with as little coaching experience as he does. However I would not call it Jeff Saturday bad as at least he already coached in a similar environment. Remember the Alliance of American Football well in the 1st and only inaugural season he coached the San Diego Fleet as a Tight End Coach. So it is a similar environment as the XFL 3.0 are having an inaugural season and its a spring football league as well. This could potentially work, but it is the riskiest hire from the bunch. Hopefully it works as St. Louis is their best market in the league.
Vegas Vipers - Rod Woodson
Rod Woodson is a notable name and is in my opinion one of the best safeties/cornerbacks in the NFL. During his career in the NFL he played for the Pittsburgh Steelers, San Francisco 49ers, Baltimore Ravens, and Oakland Raiders. He even won a Superbowl with the Baltimore Ravens. He eventually retired in 2004 and was in the Hall of Fame class of 2009.
In 2010 he began his coaching career with the Cincinnati Bengals as a coaching intern. Once 2011 hit he coached with the Oakland Raiders as a Cornerback Coach. A few years would pass and he got another opportunity to coach with the Denver Broncos in 2014. Woodson returned to coach with the Raiders in 2015 and became the assistant defensive back coach until 2016. In 2017 he got promoted to being the Cornerback Coach, but then Jon Gruden came in and Woodson was not retained. Now he is coaching with the Vegas Vipers.
Woodson was a solid coach during his time with the Raiders. Its a shame that the fired Jack Del Rio when they did as he was a solid coach with the Raiders. The organization thought differently and decided to bring back Jon Gruden which was such a bad idea it backfired. Jon Gruden became one of the biggest fall from graces in the sports and the Raiders never took that next step. But Woodson has a ton of potential being a head coach. Although he was never a coordinator I think this has potential to be a high ceiling, low floor coaching wise.