It is going to be interesting next year to see how the XFL and AAF would do, sharing the post-NFL season crowd that is still hungered for more football action. With the AAF going under, the XFL is not going to have to compete with a rival league anymore— just itself.
Can it field a product people will watch? Can it attract compelling players? Will it have head coaches that can turn teams of players the NFL did not want, into entertaining competitive football teams?
We will have to wait a while still to find out what players the XFL is going to end up signing. However, we have been finding out who the head coaches are going to be. Fans should be encouraged by some of the hires—and by one apparent miss.
For example, the Dallas franchise will be coached by former Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. Pep Hamilton (DC), Kevin Gilbride (New York), and Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) were all once considered good coaches. Yes, they have had some not-so-good years, but overall, they are respected members of their profession.
But can the same be said about a recent rumored hire—former NFL head coach Jeff Fisher?
At one time he looked like he might become the next great NFL head coach. He took a bad Houston Oilers team and turned them into the picture of mediocrity reasonably quick. When the franchise moved to Tennessee, he kept them from getting worse the first two seasons.
Then there was the Super Bowl season where he came within a yard of upsetting the Greatest Show on Turf—but didn’t. He stayed with the team for another 11 years after and did have some good teams, but never made it back to the Super Bowl.
His NFL career survived another five mediocre-to-bad years with the Rams before he was fired. He has not coached since. There hasn’t even been a rumor of him getting back into the profession until the recent one that he was going to coach the Houston franchise in the XFL.
It appears that while the XFL contacted him, he has not agreed to become one of its coaches. He referred to the reports on Twitter as “false news.”
His response to the reports sets off a small flurry of responses by ‘fans’ referencing his track record—which was pretty bad.
However, to be fair, he did have a few excellent years. It is not easy to go 13-3 in back to back seasons. He took the Titans to the playoffs six times and won the division three times over a ten-year span. But he will forever be remembered for three things: an inability to get along with and/or adequately utilize his quarterbacks, losing an NFL record 165 games as a head coach, and going ‘7-9.’
He actually only went 7-9 four times, but also went 7-8-1 once and 8-8 five times (Mr. Mediocrity?).
So—why on Earth would the XFL want him to head up a team? He either clashed with his quarterbacks or just failed to develop them into NFL talents. He struggled to get teams over the hump from being mediocre to good.
A new league that needs its teams to be playing good football sooner, rather than later, needs someone that can make that kind of impact on his team. Jeff Fisher has never shown that he is capable of doing that.
If the AAF has proven anything, it has shown that there is a market for football post-Super Bowl—but good football. Steve Spurrier did a great job turning the Orlando Apollos into a quality new team in such a short amount of time. Some of the other coaches needed a few weeks, and a couple were not great hires.
Good coaches create good football teams. They are like jockeys guiding their horses through victory. Fisher might eventually become a decent ‘jockey’, but maybe this is not the right race for him to get on track.
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