Spring Leagues like the USFL, when run correctly, should expect to lose coaches, and players to the NFL, and sometimes NCAA coaching positions as well. These leagues aren’t just to elevate the players, they are also to elevate the coaches, and executives within the league. Much like I have discussed with the roster itself, the Philadelphia Stars have been successful at retaining the coaches on staff.
With just two new faces and the loss of two coaches from last season, the staff doesn’t look much different on the surface. The titles for some coaches have changed, which could be something to watch in 2023. Is it simply a formality based on the roles they served in 2022, or is it an actual change to their responsibilities within the team, and offensive game-planning?
Brock Olivo, Running Backs/OQC
Best known for his time in the NFL as a coach and player, has returned to his alma matter to help as a special teams analyst. Olivo, who once ran for Congress in Missouri, is a former running back himself, so his role as the running backs, coach, as well as his help on special teams will be sorely missed. Originally working with Bart Andrus in the United Football League with the Omaha Nighthawks, it was just two seasons later he got his first opportunity to coach in the NFL with the Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid.
He has had deep roots in the Reid coaching tree ever since. He spent three seasons with the Chiefs as an assistant special teams coordinator before being hired to run his own special teams unit by the Denver Broncos. This stint with Denver lasted just one season as he became a scapegoat on a terrible team. He moved on to the Chicago Bears, working with Matt Nagy, as the assistant special team coordinator once again.
However, Nagy was fired the next season which left him available to return to Italy as an assistant coach, a move that had been slated to happen in 2020 before the pandemic occurred. After the 2021 season, he would join the USFL’s Philadelphia Stars. Reuniting with Bart Andrus, coaching his old position group, Olivo oversaw a unit that had Darnell Holland, Matt Colburn, Paul Terry, and later Dexter Williams.
After the Stars season concluded, the writing was on the wall that Olivo likely could leave given the opportunity. He had jumped right into coaching for Washington University in St. Louis a Division III school whose season didn’t start until September 3rd. Nearly 2 months after the Stars appeared in the championship game. With Olivo gone, the Stars have already made some changes to the backfield, beyond just the coach. Will we see a shift to a more power-based run game with Jeff Jagodzinski an offensive line coach more involved, and a new running backs coach as well?
George Jackson DQC
Defensive Quality Control coach, George Jackson has left the Stars to pursue other opportunities. Jackson is a veteran coach, who was an asset to the Stars in 2022. He moves on in 2023, leaving a gap in his role as defensive quality control. We may have gotten a glimpse at his specific roles from last season as well. New coach Brandon Noble will serve as assistant defensive line coach, but I would expect him to fill all the same roles that Jackson did in 2022.
Two new coaches have joined the staff of the Stars for the 2023 season. Replacing Brock Olivo, and George Jackson, the Stars have hired Ryan Meyers, and Brandon Noble respectively.
Ryan Meyers Running Backs Coach/OQC
Meyers is no stranger to the Alternative Football scene. He worked closely with Jagodzinski in Dallas during 2020 with the XFL where he coached quarterbacks. Since then he was coaching for Norfolk State. First as a quarterbacks coach, and then being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2022. Before the XFL, Meyers had spent four seasons coaching division II football in Mississippi first for Belhaven university as a recruiting coordinator, and quarterbacks coach, under the legendary Hal Mumme. During his second season, the team was second in all of the NCAA in average passing yards per game.
Later at Millsaps where he served as the quarterbacks coach. Before coaching, Meyers was involved in broadcasting with ESPN. He earned his first Emmy before he even graduated college, and was hired as a producer for Sunday Night Football during his senior year in college. Just a few years later he was named to the Tampa Bay “Top 40 Under 40” list for business professionals, while also working at a residential and commercial repair company. Now he gets the chance to coach at the professional level once again, but this time coaching running backs, and not the position he played, quarterback, for Tulane, and Colgate.
I would assume he will also be assisting some with the quarterbacks, given that is the position Andrus coaches outside of being the head coach, and play-caller. Giving him more time to focus on the team as a whole, is never a bad thing. I am thrilled the team chose to add two former players, to the staff, and men who both spent time coaching alternative football before as well. I believe the transition will be quick, and easy.
Brandon Noble, Assistant Defensive Line Coach/DQC
Noble is a former defensive tackle himself, attending Penn State, he built a reputation for himself before entering the NFL. Although it took a few seasons of being on the practice squad and playing in NFLEL, Noble would ultimately carve out a decent NFL career. Playing for 8 seasons in total. Noble got involved with coaching in the 2006 season immediately after his playing career ended.
Being hired by West Chester University he coached their linebacker unit for three seasons until 2008 when he would take a year off of coaching before returning to West Chester to coach the defensive line. In the 2011 season, he too coached with the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League overseeing the defensive line once again.
After his head coach with the Nighthawks, Joe Moglia took the head coaching position with Coastal Carolina University. He stayed for just one season before Temple, led by Matt Rhule at the time came calling. After just one season he left due to personal reasons.
Since then he has stayed involved with football doing podcasts, radio shows, and even some broadcasting. He was also named the spokesperson of the MRSA survivors club, a nasty infection that can be contracted during surgery, and at one point was an issue for the NFL.
Role Changes for Returning Coaches
Marcel Bellefeuille, WR/Passing Game Coordinator
Bellefeuille is a head coach in the CJFL of the Ottawa Gee-Gees. He has coached next to Bart Andrus in several stops and seems loyal to the group of coaches they have built. Whether it’s defensive coordinator Brad Miller, Bart Andrus, or Martin Bayless, these guys have built a tight bond that keeps them together time and again. Even if it means coaching two different teams a year.
Bellefeuille was a long-time offensive coordinator at the CFL, UFL, and CJFL levels. Having met Andrus while they were both CFL head coaches, the pair hit it off. They first worked together in 2011 with the Omaha Nighthawks.
Andrus was promoted to head coach and installed Bellefeuille as the offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach. After the UFL collapsed during the 2012 season, he would jump right back into the CFL, as an offensive coordinator for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He would spend three seasons in that role before being let go.
Since then he has spent time with the BC Lions, Queens Gaels, Montreal Alouettes, Ottawa, and Philadelphia. The USFL, and the CJFL due to their timing allow Brad Miller and Bellefeuille to double dip coaching both teams and leagues during the same calendar year. Heading into the 2023 season, on top of his duties as wide receivers coach, he now takes on the role of passing game coordinator.
This is less a promotion, and more a clarification of his previous duties. He will help with the passing game install, offensive game-planning, and play calling. All of which he had already been doing in 2022, without the titles.
Jeff Jagodzinski, OL/Run Game Coordinator
Jeff Jagodzinski has done it all in coaching. Position coach? Check. Coordinator? Check. Assistant Head Coach? Check. Head Coach? Check. Most recently he has been focusing on the offensive line. In 2022 the Stars had a solid unit, led by former XFL 2020 player Sean Brown who chose to re-sign rather than pursue the XFL. Jagodzinski also spent time with the XFL in 2020 but did not return to the new league in 2023.
Jagodzinski isn’t a stranger to this tight nit crew of coaches, his first experience with Bart Andrus and alternative football came in 2011 with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL. Essentially when the USFL 2022 launched, Andrus got the band back together bringing most of his former assistants to the Stars.
Before landing with Andrus and the Nighthawks, Jagodzinski held the offensive coordinator position for the Green Bay Packers in 2006. From 2007-2008 he was the Head Coach at Boston College returning to a destination where he had coached years before. By 2009 he was back in the NFL as a coordinator once again. This time with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
This stint would also last just one season. That’s when he would work with Andrus for the first time in Omaha. When the UFL folded in 2012, he would return to the college level this time with Ava Marie where he coached wide receivers. From 2013-2016 he was with Georgia State, as their offensive coordinator and eventually the assistant head coach as well. From 2017-2019 he would coordinate Notre Dame High School’s offense. In 2020 he would return to alternative football.
Serving as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach for the Dallas Renegades in XFL 2020. After the XFL folded, Jagodzinski took the pass less traveled and went out to the European League of Football to coach the offensive line for the Wroclaw Panthers. By 2022 it was time for him to reunite with Bart Andrus once again. He would be hired to oversee the offensive line for the Philadelphia Stars of the newly reformed USFL.
However, this didn’t stop him from returning to Wroclaw this off-season to help them again. In 2023 it appears he adds run game coordinator to his title which, again is likely just an indication of the roles he held before. Bart Andrus is an offensive mind, who has served as a play caller several times in his career, so he likely will continue to call plays. With Jagodzinski, and Bellefeuille both inserting their knowledge in the play-calling you get a much more well-rounded offense that keeps defenses on their toes, more than they might if it was a single play-caller with no outside input.
Brad Miller, Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers Coach
This is very similar to the situation on offense with defining the roles via titles. Miller has always keyed in on the linebacker unit dating back to his time with the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the 2014 season. Miller also has often served as a special teams coordinator which only has furthered his love for the linebacker position due to their versatility, and value on special teams.
This season the Stars have gained many new players that he can work with within the linebacker group. I am excited to see how this defense shakes out with the free agents they brought in, and the unbelievable success they had brought back their players, some of which had other options in the XFL.
Speaking of Bart Andrus…
Bart Andrus, Head Coach
Andrus has now served as a head coach for professional alternative football leagues for 7 NFLEL seasons, 1 CFL season, 1 UFL season, 3 TSL seasons, and 1 XFL season (team 9), and now heads into his second season with the USFL. There are few coaches with a more broad spectrum of experience at this spring football level than Andrus, and his rival Mike Riley with the Generals.
Heading into his 15th season as an Alternative football head coach was nearly unfathomable just a few years ago because it seemed spring football was cursed to be one and done each season, that was until the USFL, and XFL relaunched in 2022, and 2023 respectively. Both leagues seem to have solid support and a good on-field product.
Having chased his third championship last season, after winning two with the TSL, he fell short by just 3 points after watching his starting quarterback Case Cookus break his femur in the championship game. Kj Costello entered the game, but some costly interceptions left the Stars behind in crunch time. Can he and the other coaches keep the streak of the Stars playing in every USFL Championship game intact in 2023?
One thing is for sure, they aren’t trying to get ahead of themselves, but it’s clearly on the mind of any team that has represented the city of Philadelphia after watching four different teams lose in the championship game in 2022. The Stars, Eagles, Phillies, and Union all lost in the championship games in their respective leagues. Winning is paramount in the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the Stars playing their games in Detroit, they have an uphill battle to garner fan support in their city, meaning winning is the ONLY option going forward.
Glenn Smith, Tight Ends Coach
Glenn Smith is a veteran coach who spent some time with the NFL early in his career. In 2000, and 2001 he worked for the Dallas Cowboys as an offensive assistant. He has also served as an NFL Analyst and personal development coach for athletes.
He has done his best to stay tied to football, and now with being involved with the USFL, I could see him sticking with the league long term because of the flexibility it provides him to focus on his analyst work, and personal coaching business about 8 months out of the year. This could be enough for him to simply stick with the USFL as long as they continue to have him.
Martin Bayless, DB’s/Special Teams Coordinator
Martin Bayless is a former NFL player, once drafted in round 4 during the 1984 NFL draft. Bayless had a long career, and played for many different teams at the time including; St. Louis Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs x2, and Washington Redskins. After 13 seasons as a player he would retire, and join the front office of the Bills in 2000, a role he held for two seasons as the Director of Player Development, and special projects.
The following season he transitioned to coaching full-time. In 2002 he would coach for the North Carolina Tarheels and got his first taste of coaching alternative football as well when he would serve as a coaching intern with the Barcelona Dragons of the NFLEL at the time. By 2003 he had moved on to serve as an intern on the Amsterdam Admirals, under none other than Bart Andrus. He helped work with defensive backs and special teams. After two seasons with the NFLEL, he got his first job with the NFL as a coach.
From 2003-2009, he was in the NFL spending time with the Panthers, Raiders, Texans, and Vikings at the time, bouncing between defense and special teams. In 2009 he was hired by the California Redwoods, which changed its name in 2010 to the Sacramento Mountain Lions. This of course was the United Football League.
Running from 2010-2012, Bayless left the league just before its collapse in 2012, instead serving as the NFL Bill Walsh Minority Coaching Intern that season working with special teams. There would be a 5-year hiatus from coaching following the season, during which he helped assist the NFLPA as the regional director of player affairs, and later oversaw player development before the Arizona Cardinals brought him in as an intern once again.
Then in 2018, he was hired by Your Call Football, another alternative football league. This league was designed around fans calling the plays for the teams, an outdoor version of Fan Controlled Football if you will. During that season he served as defensive coordinator/special teams coordinator. Later that season he would then serve as a minority coaching intern with the Colts. In 2019 he was hired by the Alliance of American Football’s Birmingham Iron.
Serving as the secondary coach, and special teams assistant for the 5-3 Iron before the AAF folded. Much like many other coaches, he would jump to the XFL for the 2020 season after he was left without a job following the AAF collapse. Hired by the Wildcats he served as special teams coordinator, and secondary coach. Since the original XFL collapse, Bayless has been on the open market, until the 2022 season came, and Andrus tapped another familiar face.
Brandon Maguire, Defensive Line Coach
Maguire oversaw one of the best defensive line units in the USFL in 2022, and in 2023 he gets some help coaching the interior of his line, the one slight weakness they seemed to have in 2022. Having helped get a small school player like Adam Rodriguez on the NFL radar, the coach should be popping up on some radars himself. Given that he entered coaching very young, he has a long bright future ahead of himself. I said it following my interview with him, I would not be surprised to see him get college defensive coordinator consideration moving forward.
Last but Not Least..General Manager Michael Woods
Michael Woods was operating as the general manager for the Philadelphia Stars before his title began being talked about in an official capacity this offseason. He also served as the assistant scouting director. Prior to his time with the Stars, he had spent five seasons assisting the personnel department of The Spring League. Which gave him the necessary experience to properly build a team. It also gave him the familiarity with many players who would later end up on the Stars, one of the teams that leaned the most on former TSL players, in an attempt to play on the experience they had with Andrus from his time as a TSL head coach.
Also, Don’t forget to check out our other Philadelphia Stars interviews: