The start of the XFL season is right around the corner, which means it’s time to start breaking down the players and head coaches of the startup league. The XFL brought back several familiar coaches, but which ones are most likely to propel their teams to victory?
Ranking the XFL Head Coaches
1. Bob Stoops, Dallas Renegades
Arguably the biggest name on this list, Bob Stoops is perhaps the most exciting and inspiring hire out there. Famous for his impressive 18-year stint with Oklahoma, Stoops starts the year as the best coach the XFL has to offer. During his tenure at Oklahoma, Stoops led his team to a 190-48 record while winning one national championship and 10 Big 12 championships. He’s won countless variations of the Coach of the Year Award and appeared to be on the top of his game when he retired in 2017. Steve Spurrier proved in the AAF that great coaches don’t forget how to be great in retirement, so don’t be surprised if Stoops picks up right where he left off.
2. Winston Moss, Los Angeles Wildcats
After spending 11 seasons in the NFL as a linebacker, Winston Moss immediately joined the coaching world in 1998 with the Seattle Seahawks. Starting out as a defensive quality control coach, Moss eventually earned the role of linebackers coach with the New Orleans Saints in 2005. He then joined the Packers in 2006 and became assistant head coach and linebackers coach in 2007. While he’s never had a team to himself, his 12-year run as Mike McCarthy’s assistant should have him ready to take over head coaching duties for the Los Angeles Wildcats.
3. Marc Trestman, Tampa Bay Vipers
Marc Trestman is one of the most interesting names on this list. Once viewed as one of the brightest offensive minds in the NFL, Trestman lived up to his hype in 2013. During his first season as head coach of the Chicago Bears, Trestman churned career years out of both Jay Cutler and Josh McCown. However, Trestman was unable to replicate that success in 2014 and hasn’t coached in the NFL since 2016. Trestman found success in the CFL, leading the Toronto Argonauts to a championship in 2017. While there’s a reason he’s not an NFL head coach anymore, Trestman’s history of success in both the NFL and the CFL should translate to the XFL.
4. June Jones, Houston Roughnecks
June Jones didn’t have the most success during his playing time in the NFL, but he’s managed to carve out a fine career as a coach. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback first earned a head coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons in 1994 but has also served as head coach for the San Diego Chargers, Hawaii, SMU, and the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He’s enjoyed most of his coaching success at the collegiate level and went 14-14 during his recent two-year stint with the Tiger-Cats. Jones isn’t the most exciting hire out there, but he has the track record to suggest he can adequately hold the position.
5. Pep Hamilton, DC Defenders
Pep Hamilton’s biggest claim to fame involves his longstanding connection with former NFL quarterback Andrew Luck. Hamilton was Luck’s offensive coordinator at Stanford and then transitioned to the NFL to serve as Luck’s offensive coordinator with the Indianapolis Colts. During his time in Indianapolis, Hamilton guided Luck to 10,464 yards, 78 touchdowns, and 37 interceptions over 39 games. Since leaving Indianapolis, Hamilton spent one season with the Cleveland Browns before re-joining Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan. While he’s never been able to completely replicate his success without Luck, he should be capable of handling his new job.
6. Kevin Gilbride, New York Guardians
Kevin Gilbride is old-school football personified. The Southern Connecticut State product has served as head coach of his alma-mater and the San Diego Chargers, but he’s bounced all around the collegiate and NFL ranks throughout his career. Gilbride spent 10 seasons with Tom Couglin and the New York Giants, helping win two Super Bowl titles as offensive coordinator. Gilbride hasn’t coached since the 2013 season, but his long track record of success is encouraging. He has the potential to be one of the better XFL head coaches out there, but he’ll need to knock off a considerable amount of rust to do it.
7. Jonathan Hayes, St. Louis BattleHawks
It’s hard to get a read on Jonathan Hayes. A longtime NFL tight end, Hayes initially joined the coaching ranks as Oklahoma’s tight end coach in the 1999 season. He remained at that post until 2003 when Marvin Lewis hired him to Cincinnati’s tight end coach. Hayes coaches tight ends for the entirety of the Marvin Lewis Era before first-year head coach Zac Taylor decided to go in another direction. After spending a year out of football, Hayes earned a head coaching job despite never serving as anything other than a positional coach. The uptick in responsibility is going to be tough for Hayes to handle, and only time will tell if he’s up for the task.
8. Jim Zorn, Seattle Dragons
Jim Zorn is one of the more interesting XFL head coaches. A Seattle legend, Zorn doesn’t have much of his resume to inspire confidence in his head coaching ability. While most of these coaches have a decent amount of head coaching experience at some level, Zorn only has two underwhelming seasons with the Washington Redskins under his belt. Additionally, Zorn hasn’t coached in any capacity since the 2012 season. Perhaps Zorn surprises everyone, but right now this looks like a legacy hire made to excite a fanbase rather than win football games.
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