Many familiar faces will roam the sidelines for Vince McMahon's rebooted football league in 2020
The start of the 2020 XFL season is just around the corner. This rebooted version of Vince McMahon's ill-fated 2001 football league has been trying to correct its mistakes of the past to avoid failure again. One of the biggest decisions that McMahon made was the hiring of former quarterback Oliver Luck, Andrew Luck's father, as the league's commissioner and conceding most — if not all — of the football operations to him.
In addition to overseeing the draft, Commissioner Luck also was in charge of hiring the league's eight head coaches who also serve as their respective teams' general managers, giving them the final say on personnel decisions. All eight of these men are very familiar names within the sport and figure to serve as strong figureheads for the XFL's 2020 relaunch.
Note: Coaches are listed in alphabetical order.
Kevin Gilbride, New York Guardians
Not only were Oliver Luck and Vince McMahon able to convince the 68-year-old Gilbride to come out of retirement, but they also appointed him to take the reigns in the city where he spent the last decade of his career. Gilbride will lead the second XFL franchise to grace the Big Apple (New York/New Jersey Hitmen), and fans in the five boroughs will be very familiar with his work. Gilbride worked his way up through the New York Giants organization from the quarterbacks coach (2004-06) to the offensive coordinator (2007-13).
Gilbride oversaw the start of the Eli Manning era, and he called the plays for the Giants as they won the Super Bowl in both the 2007 (XLII) and 2011 (XLVI) seasons. Gilbride also has either called plays or served as a head coach for the Houston Oilers (1990-94), Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-96), San Diego Chargers (1997-98), Pittsburgh Steelers (1999-2000), and Buffalo Bills (2001-03). Out of football for six years, Gilbride now must prove that there is no coaching rust.
Pep Hamilton, DC Defenders
Hamilton has been known for his work with quarterbacks since 1997, and his resume is very impressive. In DC, he'll get to work with Cardale Jones, who rose from third on the depth chart to lead Ohio State to the national championship in 2014. Jones' run in the NFL didn't work out so well, but under Hamilton's watchful eye, he could become a breakout star in the XFL. Other signal-callers that Hamilton has helped mold in the pros include Andrew Luck, Chad Pennington, Alex Smith, and Jay Cutler. Before landing this XFL job, Hamilton called plays for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan over the previous two seasons, where he notably worked with Shea Patterson. Prior to returning to college, Hamilton served as the offensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts (2013-15) and spent one season as assistant head coach and passing game coordinator for the Cleveland Browns (2016).
Jonathan Hayes, St. Louis BattleHawks
After spending 16 years working under Marvin Lewis with the Cincinnati Bengals, Hayes finally gets his chance to be a head coach. And the former NFL tight end (1985-96 for Chiefs and Steelers) has arguably the most interesting job in the XFL, as Hayes is tasked with luring the St. Louis football fans out of hibernation. The Dome at America's Center has been dormant since the Rams returned to Los Angeles in 2016, and The Gateway to the West has been clamoring for the return of pro football since then.
Hayes will lead the sixth franchise in any league to call St. Louis home. And while the days of "The Greatest Show on Turf" are long gone, Hayes will aspire to create a new football identity in St. Louis that fans can be proud of.
June Jones, Houston Roughnecks
Notice a pattern here? Here's another head coach that concentrates on the offensive side ball. Jones has found success in the NFL, CFL and NCAA (148-134 overall record), but he's best remembered for his collegiate days at both Hawaii (1999-2007) and SMU (2008-14). And during those days, Jones ran offenses that easily dropped 35 points per game on their opponents and kept defenses on their toes.
This will be the fourth coaching stop in Texas for Jones and his third at Houston. His previous stops before SMU include coaching wide receivers for the Houston Gamblers of the former USFL (1984) and guiding quarterbacks for the Houston Oilers (1987-88). Can Jones recapture his Texas glory in the XFL?
Winston Moss, Los Angeles Wildcats
Here is the only defensive-minded coach out of this group. Moss has spent the last 20 years working on this side of the ball in the NFL. His career has seen him on the sidelines of the Seattle Seahawks (1998), New Orleans Saints (2000-05) and Green Bay Packers (2006-18). This was after a decade-long career in the league as a linebacker for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1987-90), Los Angeles Raiders (1991-94) and Seahawks (1995-97). Considering that every other coach is an offensive specialist, It'll be fascinating to see what game plan he formulizes to slow them down.
Bob Stoops, Dallas Renegades
This future Hall of Famer will take his talents to the south side of the Red River for his first head coaching job at the professional level. Stoops, 59, is the man responsible for helping mold the Oklahoma Sooners into the current powerhouse that it is today. From 1999-2016, Stoops posted a 190-48 record in Norman. And in that time, he guided the Sooners to the 2000 BCS National Championship, 10 Big 12 Conference titles, and eight Big 12 South Division crowns. On a personal level, Stoops was named Big 12 Coach of the Year six times while leading the Sooners to nine bowl game victories and 14 top-25 finishes.
Stoops bucked tradition to turn Oklahoma from a run-based offense to the wide-open attack that we see today. It was part of the beginning of a trend that we now see across all levels of the sport. Now it's up to Stoops to translate all of that success over to the professional ranks to help get the XFL off the ground. In Dallas, he'll be reunited with Landry Jones, who was his starting quarterback at OU from 2009-12. Jones is one of many of his signal-callers that Stoops has sent to the professional ranks, including Baker Mayfield and Sam Bradford.
While at Oklahoma, Stoops made the trip to Dallas every year when he would face Texas in the Red River Shootout at the Cotton Bowl. Stoops' record in that rivalry stands at 11-7, so he technically already has a winning record in Dallas.
Marc Trestman, Tampa Bay Vipers
Many fans remember Trestman for his not-so-great tenures as the head coach of the Chicago Bears (2013-14) and the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens (2015-16). While those years were a rough patch for Trestman, he has spent 30 years as both an offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach and has earned the "quarterback whisperer" moniker for his overall track record. He called plays for the 2002 AFC champion Oakland Raiders and worked directly with Jake Plummer in 1998 when the Arizona Cardinals ended their 16-year playoff drought. Trestman also directed playoff-bound offenses for the 1997 Detroit Lions and '95-96 San Francisco 49ers. Football is in Trestman's blood and if he's in the right situation, he can succeed.
Jim Zorn, Seattle Dragons
Zorn brings 30 years of experience as both a head coach and an assistant at the NFL and college levels. Zorn has worked extensively with quarterbacks — Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck and Jason Campbell among them — and he learned the West Coast offense under Dennis Erickson, Bobby Ross, and Mike Holmgren. This will be a homecoming for Zorn, who was the first quarterback in Seahawks history (1976-84), and guided the team to its first two playoff appearances ever (1983, '84). With Mike Riley as his offensive coordinator, Brandon Silvers as his quarterback, Kenneth Farrow as his running back and some talented wide receivers on board, Zorn is bringing the West Coast offense back to the Pacific Northwest.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top graphic courtesy of @xfl2020)