The New Orleans Breakers are looking for a new coach after it was announced this week that Larry Fedora will not be coming back for the next USFL season.
While players may come and go from a team, a change of head coach is more significant. Whether you’re betting on NFL games or learning about the USFL, the head coach is a key factor. A good coach can drive a team forward, getting the best out of their players, and the Breakers will be keen to ensure that the next person in the job is equally as good as Fedora has been.
Fedora guided the Breakers to a solid 6-4 record in their first season, reaching the playoffs after finishing as runners-up in the South Division. They ultimately lost in the playoffs to the Birmingham Stallions, but overall had a good season, leading the USFL in points allowed. The team also produced several players for the All-USFL team; a list that included quarterback Kyle Sloter, center Jared Thomas, defensive lineman Reggie Howard and linebacker Jerod Fernandez.
In addition, cornerback Ike Brown and tight end Sal Cannella both made the rosters for NFL teams, with Brown being picked up by the Las Vegas Raiders and Cannella earning a spot with the Packers.
Before coming to New Orleans, Fedora had built a reputation across the US. He worked as an offensive position coach with the Chicago Bears up to 1996, then spent time as offensive coordinator with Oklahoma State and coach of Southern Mississippi. From 2012 to 2018, he coached North Carolina, leading them to an 11-3 record during the 2015 season and overall he is 79-62 as a head coach.
Speculation has already begun over who may get the head coaching role before the next USFL season, but here are four of the most likely candidates to consider.
Noel Mazzone – OC, New Orleans Breakers
One option for the Breakers is to continue the Fedora legacy by hiring from within, and the current offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone would be a good fit. Under his guidance, the Breakers were one of the most balanced and effective offensive teams in the league, although the fact that he has no previous experience as a head coach may count against him.
Ed Orgeron – Former Head Coach, LSU Tigers
A less likely but potentially exciting option is Ed Orgeron. He has an extensive coaching resume, with the most notable achievement being in 2019 when LSU were consensus national champions. With his strong local and national reputation, and a head coach record of 67-47, he could be an ideal choice.
Nick Rolovich – Former Head Coach, Washington State and Hawaii
Rolovich was offensive coordinator at Hawaii from 2010 to 2011, then left for the same position at Nevada before returning as head coach for Hawaii in 2016. His impact as head coach was immediate, as he switched their offensive approach to a modern run and shoot style, helping Hawaii to achieve success. His time at Washington State was cut short when he refused to take the Covid-19 vaccine, so he may feel that he has something to prove and would be an interesting, progressive appointment.
Mike Neu – Head Coach, Ball State
Mike Neu may need some convincing to leave his current position as head coach of his alma mater, Ball State, but he may be persuaded to take on a bigger challenge, particularly as he hasn’t had a lot to work with in his current role. He has a solid resume, which has included taking Ball State to two bowl games. He has also spent time coaching the New Orleans VooDoo in the Arena Football League, winning the Coach of the Year award in 2004. Additionally, he has had assistant coaching roles, and his all-round experience may ultimately make him a better fit for the USFL than college football.
Hal Mumme, Former Head Coach, TSL Linemen
One of the founders of the Air Raid offense, Hal Mumme is another intriguing name to add to the list. He has been coaching since 1976 though is perhaps best known for his time at Kentucky, where he was a key factor in helping Tim Couch become a Heisman Trophy winner. His college record of 142-152-1 is not spectacular, but he did win the Spring League Mega Bowl last year, and it would be fascinating to see him implement his high-powered aerial game with the New Orleans Breakers in the USFL.