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10 Head Coaches The XFL Should Consider Hiring

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The XFL will have some interesting options when they hire their head coaches for the 2023 season. And who the XFL hires could shape the type of pro football league they present. 

Typically, the period between the end of the College and NFL football season is firing and hiring season. There is so much turnover on the football coaching landscape during this time of the calendar.

As we approach the offseason now, all college and NFL teams are fine-tuning and completing their staffs. The heavy lifting in that process is over. But as a result of all the changes. There are so many coaches that will be left off the sidelines this coming spring, summer, and fall. 

The United States Football League was also part of the hiring equation in 2022. They have locked in their eight head coaches and are filling staff for April’s upcoming season. So the XFL gets an opportunity to take a complete overview of what coaches are out there. 

Hiring Head Coaches For The XFL

Convincing respected football coaches to join an upstart league is easier said than done. After all, not only do you need to make it worthwhile financially, but you are attempting to convince coaches to take a chance and keep themselves out of the NFL and college loop. At least for one year. But you also need to sell them on the value of what is, in essence, a dramatic career change. It’s a leap of faith for prospective coaches to take the alternate pro football league plunge.

That’s why these types of leagues often attract coaches that have been off the radar or out of the loop in hiring cycles for quite some time.

What’s challenging about coming up with a credible wishlist of coaching names for the XFL is that the league’s locations for 2023 are not yet known. The assumption is that the XFL will be back in the same markets they inhabited in 2020. But there could be some changes around the margins. Based on business dealings with venues.

Normally, you would tie a coach to a team based on his history in said market. After all, linking a head coach to the region, he will be coaching in is a sound business strategy for upstart leagues trying to generate interest locally.

Since the XFL hasn’t officially announced where they will be playing in February of 2023, here’s a more simplified version of who the league should attempt to hire when the football business side starts up for the XFL. The keyword is ‘attempt.’ Because not every coach will agree to take the leap of faith with a new league. But that shouldn’t stop the XFL’s leadership group from shooting their shot.

There are plenty of unreal options out there. However tempting it might be to throw out names like Sean Payton. There will also be those who link former LSU coach Ed Orgeron to the XFL because of his ties to Dwayne Johnson when they were both at the University of Miami. 

Rex Ryan will also be a popular suggestion. But there is reason to believe that his only desire is to get back into coaching in the NFL. Other intriguing potential names like former LSU and Carolina Panthers OC Joe Brady, are off the market after he joined the Buffalo Bills staff.

So, to be somewhat realistic. Here are the coaches that I think the XFL should and could target. Although, the list is from ten to one. This is not a rankings list, and it’s merely a group of suggestions for the XFL. Some of the coaches on the list are in the NFL. So that would take a serious amount of salesmanship to execute. 

Also not included on this list are former XFL head coaches. There’s a strong sentiment for bringing back June Jones, Winston Moss, and Jonathan Hayes. All three did a phenomenal job in 2020 and would be welcome returns. Former DC Defenders coach Pep Hamilton, who is currently the Texans OC, should be involved in the next wave of head coaching interviews in the NFL, based on his stellar work with Justin Herbert and Davis Mills. So, for now, I am ruling him out. 

Ten Head Coach Options For The XFL

#10- Ron Middleton- NY Jets Tight Ends Coach

” Everyone wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die”

New York Jets assistant coach Ron Middleton to the college players he coached in February’s Senior Bowl.  

 Leagues like the XFL need to think outside the box. It’s easier to go the safe route and look for coaches who have any level of head coaching experience. There is certainly value in that. But why not target coaches who haven’t had an opportunity to lead and who may never.

The fun in alternate leagues is that they can be progressive and forward-thinking. They have the luxury of doing things differently and, in some cases, better than others have. It doesn’t always work out, but as evidenced by the LA Rams hiring a 30-year old in Sean McVay to run their team, taking an unorthodox route can be paved in gold or a championship.

The NFL and college football have tons of quality assistant coaches that are pigeonholed and are never elevated to any position of prominence. They build a strong reputation, make a great living and work for decades as a result. But they are never promoted in their field of work.

Ron Middleton is one of those coaches. He’s a football lifer. The Alabama native and former Auburn tight end played in the NFL for ten seasons before transitioning into coaching when his playing days were done. First in his hometown of Alabama at Troy for two years, before coaching tight ends, running backs, and special teams at Ole Miss for five years.

Middleton made his way to the NFL coaching ranks with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he coached tight ends and assisted on special teams for three seasons. Then he was back to the college ranks at Alabama and then Duke. He would then make his way back to the NFL with Jacksonville.

Middleton coached tight ends and special teams for the Jaguars from 2013-to 2020. In 2021, Middleton impressed NY Jets head coach Robert Saleh in the hiring process and was added to his staff. Middleton made quite an impression on his new colleagues and the Jets’ young players. New York fielded the youngest team in the NFL last season.

Late last year, Ron Middleton was called upon to lead the Jets when Robert Saleh was put on the COVID list. Middleton did a phenomenal job leading the Jets during their week of preparation and towards a victory over his former team, the Jaguars. His brief stint leading the charge did not go unnoticed as Middleton was again given the reins to head coach the National team to a victory in the Senior Bowl. He was one of the stars of Senior Bowl week and game day. Middleton’s boisterous leadership style was on full display. 

There’s a misnomer in 2022 that you need to have extensive coordinating experience to be a head coach. While it certainly helps and is preferable for a coach to have that background, Ultimately, being able to lead an entire football franchise is the most important trait towards being a head coach.

The ability to communicate with the modern-day athlete is a quality that teams need in their leader. Ron Middleton has shown that quality. There are other assistant coaches out there who appear to be in line for future potential coordinator openings in the NFL. Still, unfortunately, Middleton is not on that radar and may never be. Although the recent example of another boisterous tight end turned coach like Dan Campbell in Detroit could play into Middleton’s favor in the future.

If an NFL head coaching opportunity doesn’t come Middleton’s way. The question becomes whether or not he’d be willing to leave the NFL to become a head coach in the XFL. There’s plenty of incentive for Middleton to stick with the role he currently has. But the XFL might afford him a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that others won’t. It’s something for coaches like Ron Middleton to consider.

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I am a pro football writer who has extensively covered and reported on multiple leagues over the years. I started covering the XFL back in 2001. You can follow me on Twitter @byMikeMitchell

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