Quick Bit: The XFL is ready to return from a two-year hiatus in 2023. The spring league will return to some of its most successful cities while adding some new ones to the rotation.
The USFL won’t be the only spring football league playing in 2023. The XFL is set to return and take a third shot at establishing itself as an offseason respite for NFL fans seeking live football action.
The XFL first played a season in 2001 — marketing itself as an extreme alternative style of football — but went belly-up after a year. However, after a 19-year hiatus, the league returned in 2020, finding a moderate level of success in half of a season before it was shuttered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now, the XFL is gearing up for another return in 2023; and recently, the league has made several important announcements about its future.
Most notable among those: where will XFL teams play in 2023 and who will coach them?
The XFL has yet to reveal the names of its eight teams for 2023, but it did officially announce where the teams will be playing. Here’s a look at the XFL cities for 2023 as well as the coaches who will lead each franchise.
XFL teams & cities for 2023
These are the eight cities in which the spring league will locate teams for their restart in 2023:
Five of the eight selected cities — Dallas, Houston, Seattle, St. Louis and Washington — hosted teams during the pandemic-shortened 2020 XFL season. Las Vegas, Orlando and San Antonio will mark the new additions for 2023 while the New York Guardians, Los Angeles Wildcats and Tampa Bay Vipers will not return.
The XFL is seemingly attempting to lay strong roots in Texas in the league’s third attempt at establishing itself. Three of the league’s eight teams are located in the Lone Star State — Dallas, Houston and San Antonio – and league co-owner Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson announced the XFL’s headquarters will be in Arlington.
USFL coaches, city details for 2023
The XFL’s eight head coaches had been announced ahead of its city reveal for 2023, but now, the league has officially paired those coaches with their respective teams, too.
Below is a breakdown of each coaching candidate and what to expect from the city in which his team will play.
Head coach: Bob Stoops
Stoops became one of college football’s legendary coaches during his 17-year run at Oklahoma from 1999 to 2016. He turned the Sooners into a perennial powerhouse in the Big 12, guiding them to 10 Big 12 titles under his watch and a national championship in 2000.
Stoops, 61, posted a 191-48 record as a college head coach and his .799 winning percentage ranks 18th-best of all time. He coached Dallas to a 2-3 record in the 2020 XFL return, so he will be looking to improve upon that in 2023.
Dallas’ team was known as the Renegades in 2020, and relied on former Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones and running back Cameron Artis-Payne to lead its team. Dallas will likely take up the same moniker in 2023.
Head coach: Wade Phillips
Phillips was once of the NFL’s best defensive coordinators during his storied NFL career, but he got plenty of chances to serve as a head coach, too. He served as a full-time head coach three times and as an interim three times, compiling an 82-64 record with the Saints, Broncos, Bills, Falcons, Cowboys and Texans.
Phillips won Super Bowl 50 as the Broncos’ defensive coordinator in 2016 and served in that role for eight different NFL teams. Most recently, the 75-year-old was the Rams’ defensive coordinator from 2017 through 2019. He helped guide the team to a Super Bowl appearance before retiring.
Houston was one of the 2020 XFL teams and was known as the Roughnecks during that time. Like Dallas, Houston is expected to keep its nickname and will look to replicate its success as one of the league’s most explosive offenses in 2023.
Head coach: Rod Woodson
Las Vegas is one of the XFL’s new cities for 2023. They were a part of the league’s initial launch in 2001 and logged a 4-6 record going by the Outlaws. It’s unclear whether they will take on that nickname or another in 2023.
What is clear is that Rod Woodson will be coaching the squad. Woodson, 57, is a former Super Bowl champion, NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1993 and a six-time AP All-Pro. He has 12 career pick-sixes, good for the most in NFL history.
Woodson was one of the NFL’s best defensive backs for the better part of a decade and now will take a crack at a high-end coaching job for the first time in his career. He has served as a coaching intern and defensive backs coach for the Bengals, Raiders and Broncos at times and last held the latter position with the Raiders in 2017.
This move will be a big jump for Woodson, but he has the on- and off-the-field experience needed to help the XFL succeed in Sin City.
Head coach: Terrell Buckley
Here’s another of the XFL’s new cities for 2022. Orlando will be joining the fray after previously being passed over in the second edition of the USFL.
Orlando has plenty of spring-league experience. The city hosted the Rage during the 2001 XFL season and the team posted an 8-2 record. Then, in 2019, the Orlando Apollos were one of the short-lived AAF’s best teams and drew 19,648 fans per game, good for the second-most in the league.
Much like Las Vegas, Orlando will be headed by a former NFL defensive back looking to break into the higher-end coaching ranks. Buckley, a former first-round pick in 1992 out of Florida State, enjoyed an 11-year NFL career and has been a cornerbacks coach for the last decades. He has had stops at Akron, Louisville, Mississippi State and Ole Miss.
Now, Buckley, 51, will take on a larger role for the first time to further flesh out his r?sum?. He will also look to replicate the success that Orlando had in the AAF as part of the XFL.
Head coach: Hines Ward
San Antonio is the final new team joining the XFL and they are taking a similar path to Orlando. San Antonio was a 2001 XFL team that didn’t rejoin the league in 2020 but had a counterpart in the AAF that fared well.
The AAF’s Commanders went 5-3 and averaged a league-high 27,721 in per-game attendance. That was enough for the XFL to treat them as a target market in 2023. The original San Antonio XFL franchise was known as the Gunslingers, but it’s unclear whether that will be their name again in 2023.
Hines Ward will be the coach of San Antonio. Ward, 46, had a terrific career as an NFL receiver, catching 1,000 passes for 12,083 yards and 85 touchdowns. He also won two Super Bowls and one Super Bowl MVP with the Steelers.
Ward was an offensive assistant for the Jets from 2019 to 2021 before becoming the wide receivers coach at Florida Atlantic. He also served as the player relations executive for the AAF’s 2019 season.
Head coach: Jim Haslett
It’s no surprise that the XFL is returning to Seattle. The Dragons averaged crowds of 25,616 fans in their two home games, good for the second-best in the league. They will look for similar success in 2023 and will likely keep their name and branding.
Seattle’s team will also be led by an inexperienced coach in Jim Haslett. The 66-year-old was the Saints’ head coach from 2000 to 2005 and has served four different stints as an NFL defensive coordinator. He also played linebacker for the Bills and Jets from 1979 to 1987.
Haslett was just 47-61 as an NFL coach, but was 6-1 in his stint in the UFL in 2009, winning Coach of the Year with the Florida Tuskers. That will give him a chance to perform well in a similarly styled spring league.
Head coach: Anthony Becht
St. Louis was the only XFL 2020 city to outdo Seattle in terms of attendance. The Battlehawks averaged 28,541 fans per game while Jordan Ta’amu starred for the team at quarterback.
St. Louis will once again look to establish itself as a solid XFL team and city with Anthony Becht leading the way. Becht, 44, will be the XFL’s youngest coach and will rely on his 11 years of NFL playing experience to carry him in his new coaching role.
Becht played for the Rams in 2008 and was the tight ends coach for the San Diego Fleet in the AAF in 2019. That gives him a solid baseline knowledge of the city and spring start-up leagues which will help him overcome his inexperience as a head coach.
Head coach: Reggie Barlow
Washington, D.C. played host to the DC Defenders during the 2020 XFL season and seems likely to do that again in 2023. The Defenders logged a 3-2 record and began establishing themselves as a contender in the XFL’s East Division.
The Defenders brand will likely make a return in 2023 and DC will be led by Reggie Barlow. The 50-year-old spent seven years as the head coach at Alabama State, an FCS-level school, and more recently, seven years at Virginia State, a Div. II school.
Barlow posted a combined record of 83-58 in his two head-coaching stops. That included a 34-16 record at Virginia State. He will have to navigate a big jump in competition, but his head-coaching experience will give him an edge over some of the league’s greener coaches.
USFL COACHES: More about each team’s head coach for the 2023 season
How XFL cities compare to USFL cities
It’s notable that the XFL is only overlapping with the USFL in one city. The XFL is set to have a team in Houston, where the USFL technically has a team located. The Gamblers played the 2022 USFL season in Birmingham, like all of the other teams in the spring start-up, but their home city is Houston.
However, the XFL’s other seven cities don’t overlap with those of the USFL. Below is a list of each league’s seven, non-Houston teams in alphabetical order.
New Jersey Generals
New Orleans Breakers
Tampa Bay Bandits
What does this mean? Maybe not much in the immediate future, but the fact that the two leagues are, largely, in different markets means that they will have a chance to coexist.
It also means that the XFL may have looked to avoid markets where the USFL already had established a team — despite the fact that USFL games have yet to be played there. That would explain why the XFL opted to create another Orlando franchise instead of rebooting the Tampa Bay Vipers, who were a part of the league in 2020.
Of course, the attendance discrepancy — Orlando’s 2019 AAF team averaged nearly 5,000 fans per game more than Tampa’s XFL team did in 2020 — may have played a part in this decision, too. But the presence of the USFL’s Bandits can’t be ignored.
The XFL also has a much heavier West Coast presence than the USFL, which is predominantly utilizing teams in the Midwest and East to fill its league. That could create an opportunity for a merger if the two leagues both find a level of success.
Originally found on Sporting News Read More