Robert Hanashiro | USA TODAY Sports

The AAF beat the second version of the XFL to the market, then imploded gloriously after early success.

Now XFL 3.0 — Vince McMahon is out, The Rock and Dany Garcia are in — is one year away from launch as the USFL prepares for its maiden season. The XFL clearly decided to remind the world it is still coming by curiously and randomly announcing its head coaches Wednesday, a few days before the USFL kicks off.

The names:

  • Former Bills/Broncos/Cowboys coach Wade Phillips
  • Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops
  • Former Virginia State coach Reggie Barlow
  • Former Jets tight end Anthony Becht
  • Former Jets cornerback Terrell Buckley
  • Former Saints coach Jim Haslett
  • Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward
  • Hall of Fame safety Rod Woodson

Couple of thoughts:

Buckley and Ward have been coaching for a while now, so their names aren’t surprising. Neither is Woodson — he hasn’t coached in a few years, but he has been on NFL staffs. Becht is a bit of a wild card choice, since he has only coached at the high school level and briefly in the AAF.


It’s kind of crazy Haslett never got another shot in the NFL save a stint as the Rams’ interim coach. The guy went 45-51 in six years with the Saints and the only time he has fewer than seven wins was the post-Hurricane Katrina season.

Five of the coaches are relatively unproven in the profession (in terms of being a FBS/NFL head coach) and four are Black. So the XFL is walking the walk when it comes to providing opportunities to develop and grow.

The XFL hasn’t announced cities yet (or if there will even be cities, it could go central location like the USFL). But if there are cities, let’s make some wild predictions after reading into the coaching selections.

Phillips and Stoops have to be coaching somewhere in Texas/Oklahoma. I’m pretty sure Becht lives in Tampa. Giving Woodson a team in Oakland makes too much sense. Everyone else feels relatively geographically flexible.

I tend to believe the XFL has a better long-term chance to succeed than the USFL because it has better name recognition and The Rock as the front man. But it’s all going to depend on the TV deal and the quality of player. If ESPN and ABC go in with them — and the  promotion the announcement is getting on the network suggests that will happen — then things will get interesting. Spring football wars!

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.