With the question of the XFL’s coaches still up in the air, one vacancy is clear. Pep Hamilton, the HC of the Defenders has earned a spot as the Los Angeles Chargers QB coach. He’s previously held the same position with the Bears, Jets, 49ers, Browns as well as at Stanford and Howard. While he’s moved on to the NFL, DC will need someone to take the reins.
XNH’s Anthony Miller has reported that Steve Spurrier has interest in coaching spring football after leading the AAF’s Orlando Apollos to an honorary title. While the legendary coach is clearly the top option, he’s really only interested in coaching a team in his home state, Florida.
However, the XFL is a great destination for younger coaches either trying to make a name for themselves, or more seasoned guys looking to lead a team without the pressures of the NFL or NCAA. Of course coaching in the XFL takes all the hard work and sleepless nights, but the fact that coaches coming out of college won’t have to recruit, and those from the NFL have just a 10-game season to prepare for, makes it an attractive destination for those who still love the game.
At the other Washington Football Team, Peterson had a fantastic record coaching the Huskies. He was the fastest FBS coach to reach 100 wins, and has an overall record of 147-38 in a decade and a half between Boise State and Washington. At just 55 years old, he retired from college football, and many wondered why he would step away in his prime.
It turns out fatigue is a likely candidate. College recruiting is an often grueling process that takes a ton of time and effort. He hung up the clipboard to spend more time with his wife and 2 sons, and nobody could ever question a decision like that.
However, with the XFL perhaps there’s a better chance for the work-life balance. Peterson is a keen football mind who elevated his programs for decades, and he would bring an exciting, innovative offense to the league.
His knack for misdirection, and getting his playmakers in space would serve him well here, and DC would instantly become an electric team to watch.
Caldwell has as rocksolid a resume as we’ll ever see in the XFL, with 4 decades of coaching experience, 2 Super Bowl rings and 7 years as a head coach in the NFL. He was Peyton Manning’s QB coach throughout his prime, and led Matthew Stafford to some of his best play as HC of the Lions.
I think it’s fair to call him a QB guru. Let’s not forget that in his offense, Joe Flacco swept the playoff scene, won the Super Bowl MVP while throwing 11 TD’s and zero picks in the 2012 postseason. I’d love to see what he could do with Cardale in the XFL.
At 65, he just came off a job as the Dolphins QB coach where he facilitated FitzMagic in 2019. However, the offseason has come and gone, and he’s still looking for a job. Here’s the best part though.
He used to work for the XFL. Back in 2018 when the rebooted league was still in its adolescence, Caldwell was hired as an advisor to help the XFL develop its rules and consult on QB issues specifically. The links are there, and one more veteran coach was hired in the same capacity. His name is
Fox was brought on in 2018 to consult in the same role as Caldwell, and help shape the league into what it is today. As far as his coaching credentials go, you’d be hard pressed to find a more proven guy.
Interestingly, he got his start in pro football as the Los Angeles Express’ DB coach in the USFL back in the 80’s, before landing a gig with the Pittsburgh Steelers as a defensive coordinator under Chuck Noll. After a decade-plus as a DC in the NFL, he earned the HC job with the upstart Panthers.
Carolina had all of 1 winning season in its history by the time John Fox came around, and was coming of a 1-15 season when he was hired. He turned the entire franchise around. In just his second year as HC, he led them to a Super Bowl appearance with Jake Delhomme, Stephen Davis, Julius Peppers and Steve Smith.
He put Carolina on the map, and went on to end floundering Josh McDaniels era and turn the Broncos into a Super Bowl calibre team. In the mile high city, he won a playoff game with Tim Tebow, oversaw some of Peyton’s best years, and built an aggressive defense that precipitated Von Miller’s rise to elite status. He spent a few years in Chicago during the twilight years of the Jay Cutler era, and has been working as an analyst for ESPN since.
However, with previous ties to the XFL and an open coaching spot, one has to wonder if Fox is itching to chase a championship yet again. He has proven extremely flexible as a coach, and has constructed vastly different teams. From the defense and run-heavy attacks of the early 2000s Panthers and 2011 Broncos to the aerial assault Peyton Manning years, Fox knows how to use the talent at his disposal well.
He of all people would be an excellent leader to tap the talented potential we saw with the Defenders in 2020.
We talked about Tebow once, and now we’re going to do it again. The man behind John Fox’s 2011 success was none other than McCoy. He was the offensive coordinator at the time, who alchemized an entire offense based around two things. Tim Tebow, and Willis McGahee.
While unconventional, he led the Broncos to have the #1 rushing attack in 2011, and they defeated Big Ben’s Steelers in the Wild Card. In Denver he made Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow look good, and helped facilitate Peyton Manning’s return to eminence.
At just 48 years old, he also has a head coaching job on his record, as he led the Chargers from 2013-2016. Though the Chargers struggled in that time, Philip Rivers had some of the most productive seasons of his career.
He was an early casualty on the tanking 2018 Cardinals, where he served as Offensive Coordinator to start the season, and he is available. Given his longstanding ties to John Fox, I’d be suprised if the XFL wasnt on his periphery.
The league could use an offensive mind like his, especially in the wake of losing Pep Hamilton.
I realize this whole article is based on what-if scenarios, but there would be a few moving parts to this one. If the reported interest Steve Spurrier has in spring football is real, and he wants the job in Tampa, I cant imagine the league would tell him no. Spurrier is a 2x College Football Hall of Famer, for his days as a QB and a Coach at Florida.
He’s a born and raised Floridan, a legend in his own right and I can only imagine what he would do for ticket sales down there. Were that to happen, Marc Trestman would be in an interesting situation. Ousted in TB, but there would be an opportunity to take over in DC.
After a rough start with the Vipers, he really had something special going by the time the league shut down. He figured out his QB situation, was utilizing his weapons well, and appeared to have righted the ship.
Trestman has an extensive record of success in the pro football world, and the man has coached 3 teams to Grey Cup Championships in the CFL. If Spurrier were to ever take over in Tampa, it would be more of a business move to sell tickets than a knock on his coaching.
He could still very well lead and XFL team in this scenario, and the Defenders would do well to have and offensive wizard like him. His presence in the league would also go a long way to pulling his former players from the CFL, as we saw with SJ Green and Armanti Edwards.
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