The big news this past month was the hiring of the final two Head Coach / General Manager positions in Los Angeles and Houston, as well as finally getting the announcement of the TV Deal. Even if the head coach/GM hiring has taken over three months to get the final list of eight leaders, it has been fun following all the announcements as they have come out. It was almost as good as watching a game or so every couple weeks while we XFL fans enjoy this spring’s building year. And the TV Deal appears like it was surely worth the wait, seemingly meeting or exceeding preannouncement rumors. Let’s dive into these recent topics.
Last Two Head Coach / General Managers
Los Angeles named Winston Moss Head Coach/GM of that franchise. He comes from a long line of playing and coaching, having played linebacker in over 150 NFL games for the Seahawks, Buccaneers and Raiders and has now coached for over two decades in NCAA and NFL. I did like during his opening press conference where he actually called out Jon Hayes, coach of St Louis, to keep their rivalry (Raiders/Chiefs) going. I like how he sounded fired up for it and not just telling us how good the other team will be, blah, blah, blah. We hear a lot of that in the NFL interviews these days so nothing wrong with a little trash talk here and there, all respect due of course. So that was fun to hear.
Houston filled out the Eight is Enough cast with hiring of June Jones. Jones also has a long playing and coaching tree like the other XFL coaches, in the NCAA, CFL and NFL. Also fitting the profile of other XFL Head Coach/GM is Jones having local ties to the community. He coached QBs for the Oilers 77-81 and the Houston Gamblers in 1984. He mentioned in his hiring press conference how he was glad to come full circle and be back in Houston coaching where he started. And he liked how it was such a rare opportunity to build a franchise from ground up.
Building a new franchise from the very foundation up to the actual players is something every coach mentioned when thinking about taking the XFL job. I am not sure other coaches who may have gotten feelers for these jobs took into full account how rare of building opportunity this first year coaching/GM’n will be. And the XFL has been very good at placing people with local ties to the cities they are in, making the transition even easier. It is really a unique opportunity they have in this first year in doing this people placement. I am glad they are taking advantage of it as I can only see it helping them build each city/team.
So, in complete, all eight Head Coach and General Managers are:
Dallas: Bob Stoops
Washing DC: Pep Hamilton
Seattle: Jim Zorn
Tampa Bay: Marc Trestman
New York: Kevin Gilbride
St Louis: Jon Hayes
Los Angeles: Winston Moss
Houston: June Jones
There have also been a couple coordinator and front office positions filled as of late. One of the more notable hires was Dallas Cowboy legend Daryl Johnston who came over from the recent AAF. He will be Director of Player Personnel in Dallas.
It is going to be fun watching each of these cities/teams grow in this building year for the XFL. All these coaches will bring their own style and flavor to both sides of the ball, growing their identity throughout this building year and even into the first few games of 2020. It should be a good ride.
TV Deal Beats Expectations
The TV Deal looks to be most things everyone hoped for and possibly more, when rumors of two big networks first surfaced a few months ago. Fox and ESPN are indeed in the picture, with the majority of games on their main networks. FS1 and ABC are also heavily involved. And only 3 games are having to be moved to FS2 or ESPN 2, according to the schedule released with the announcement. The games are almost all at 2:00 PM and 5:00 PM on Saturdays and that time or an hour or two later on Sundays. Almost all Saturday games are on ABC and Fox. On Sundays, almost every week one game is on FS1 with the second game rotating between all the aforementioned networks. This ensures all four games every week will be readily available to watch. True to his word, Oliver Luck did his best to keep the games on “broadcast TV and mainstream cable.”
This TV Deal provides a very consistent schedule for good fan viewing every week, with no reliance on partially used streaming or other less than fully saturated mediums. Keep it on real TV, and get to the core, historical fans. New fans will also come along, but we needed these easy viewing opportunities to help the league get a good foundation, these first couple of years especially. I was so pleased to hear Luck’s original plan to try and put the games and these types of networks, and of course overjoyed as most people were with the official announcement. This took a heck of a lot of work and we fans owe them one.
More Mainstream News
A nice byproduct of the TV Deal, it seemed, was more mainstream news programs mentioning the XFL that week. Several of the noted bigger publications all had articles on the TV Deal. I also heard my local talk radio talking about it that day. Other national programs also had segments on the league. There were a few longform articles, in the works for weeks you could tell, that got released that day or shortly after. Somewhat timing the release with the TV Deal announcement.
All these things helping us in the XFL fandom feel prouder of the league. After the short-lived AAF this was a good feeling. Hopefully it lasts, but it was nice to hear some of things said and some of the bigger names believing in the league that were more free to talk after the TV Deal announcement. It was almost like others were finally seeing the excitement all of us have been seeing and were finally spreading it around and believing in it a little more. Being on major networks, at consistent times will go a long way in helping us build a good fandom and following. As well as helping legitimize it for the other national sports programs that might be more inclined to run highlights and the like.
Coming Up: Summer Showcases and Team Logos?
The league is going to have 8 Summer Showcases starting in June. This will be their own twist on the NFL combine. The players will be invited from unsigned NFL prospects and other pro leagues, as well as college athletes whom can apply for an invitation. So, it won’t be a free for all, which is good as there are enough quality players at this level ready to go through the process. And while the player tryouts are not open to the public it looks like the fan attendance will be. So, we should get some good reports on how it goes from Twitterville.
The next exciting thing we know about coming, that may or may not come in June, will be the Team Logos and Names. My guess is it will be later in the summer, giving the coaching hires time to settle down. This is going to be a great press conference when these are announced. Now that we of course know the cities, I could see fans having a watching party and cheering when their team is announced. Then you can spend the next cocktail talking about the name and the apparel you are going to go get as soon as it comes out. And how your next rival’s new name is not nearly as cool. Should be fun and will be the next wave of excitement with fans getting on the XFL bandwagon. And I have no problem with bandwagon fans right now, the more the merrier. Because the more fans that see the product the more fans that will stick around for the long haul I believe. l. I have no doubt about that, once they see what the XFL is cooking.
+Plus Random Thoughts
Speaking of TV viewing, how many of you had extra eyeballs on the Masters golf tourney a few weeks ago when Tiger got back in contention for the win? I know I did. Has there ever been one person who could so single-handedly sway the TV viewership meter like him? CBS even played an encore of the same 18 holes only a couple hours later and it was still the 3rd highest rated golf program of the year. Behind Day 3 and Day 4 (live) of the same tournament of course. So basically, Tiger owned the three highest rated golf programs so far this year. And one of those was a replay. Bummer for the networks on the next big tournament, when he didn’t make the cut for Saturday and Sunday, surely dropping their numbers significantly. Crazy how one star can do that. Hopefully the XFL can create a few breakout stars of our own to draw some viewership and help push the rating a small bit higher. See y'all next week and enjoy the week that is.