The coaching staffs are now in place with less than a month away from kickoff to the inaugural season of the revitalized USFL. A wealth of experience can be seen from the coaches which includes time spent in NCAAFB, NFL, XFL, CFL, AAF, NFL Europe, TSL, and UFL. The USFL presents many coaches with an opportunity to try their hand at professional football for the first time or even as their first gig on U.S. soil. Here is a recap of the team coaching collectives in the USFL:
New Jersey Generals
The Generals have brought in Mike Riley to helm the NJ franchise. Riley has served as a head coach in both the NFL and NCAA. He also had a short stint as an offensive coordinator for the XFL’s Seattle Dragons. He brings with him defensive line coach Robert Diaco and most notably James Rodgers Jr. who played for Riley at Oregon State as a hybrid wide receiver/running back/kick returner. He will coach the receivers group for the Generals.
Defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach Cris Dishman has NFL, CFL, NFL Europe and XFL stops on his resume. Jay Locey was with Riley at OSU as well and will lead the tight ends/running backs groups. Steve Smith will serve as OC/offensive line coach while Ken Watson will be with the linebackers. Finally, the team assistants are Zerick Rollins (quality control/quarterbacks) and Dominique Franks (quality control/defensive backs).
Kirby Wilson has spent extensive time as a RB coach for numerous teams and finally has his first shot at a head coaching gig. He is joined by Rick Courtright (DL), Jarren Horton (DC/DBs), and Bill Khayat (TEs) as the coaches. Marc Hull (ST/LBs) gets a big opportunity after spending his coaching career with multiple small colleges. Steven Loney (OL/TEs) and John Tomlinson (OC/QBs) bring plenty of NFL experience to the team. The Maulers will be assisted by Will Johnson (RBs) and Jack Nudo (DBs).
Bart Andrus once again finds himself as a HC of an alternative football team after chances at the TSL, XFL (Team 9), CFL, NCAA, and NFL Europe levels. He will be joined by Martin Bayless (cornerbacks/special teams) who brings a wealth of NFL and college experience while also spending time in the AAF and XFL. Marcel Bellefeuille (WR) comes with a CFL-heavy resume. Jeff Jagodzinski (OL), Brandon Maguire (DL), Brad Miller (DC), and Glenn Smith (TEs) round out the main staff. The team assistants are Brock Olivo, (offensive quality control/RBs) and George Jackson (defensive quality control).
The Panthers are led by arguably the most recognized coach in the league, HC Jeff Fisher. His staff consists heavily of NCAAFB coaches including OC Eric Marty, Neil Callaway (OL), Daniel Carrell (DC), and Kwahn Drake (DL). Jeff Imamura serves as the hybrid DB/ST coach. Team assistants include Tony Brown (DL), and Mark Stewart (RB).
Head coach Skip Holtz leads the charge as the HC, QB coach and OC for the Stallions. His main objectives will be to represent the city Birmingham and groom QB Alex McGough. Holtz has amassed an eclectic group from all over. DBs coach Corey Chamblin has coached exclusively in international settings in the CFL and NFL Europe. Likewise, WR coach Mike Jones and DC/LB coach John Chavis have only spent time on the college level.
OL coach John Himebauch once again finds himself in another Spring league after stops in the AAF and XFL. DL coach Bill Johnson and RBs coach James Kirksey both bring NFL experience to Holtz’s staff.
New Orleans Breakers
HC Larry Fedora makes his first non-college stop in the USFL. With him comes other staff that have coached exclusively at the NCAA level including Nathan Burton (secondary), Jonathan Tenuta (DC/LBs) and Patrick Washinton (WRs). Noel Mazzone (OC, QBs), Jim Turner (OL) and Paul Spicer (DL) all carry NFL coaching experience. The Breakers’ team assistants are Matt Butterfield (ST/TEs) and Greg Patrick (DL).
Tampa Bay Bandits
Todd Haley joins Jeff Fisher as another head coach in the USFL that served as an HC in the NFL. He has tagged “Pepper” Johnson as his DC/DL coach after he spent a short tenure as DC with the XFL’s LA Wildcats. Several former NFL coaches litter this staff including Johnson, Frank Gansz Jr. (ST/TEs), Carnell Lake (DBs), Pat Perles (OL), and Bob Saunders(OC/WRs/RBs). Trey Jackson (LBs) is the only non-NFL coaching experienced staff member of the major position groups. The Bandits’ team assistants are Steven Thompson (LBs/DBs) and Yale Van Dyne (WRs/RBs).
HC/QB coach Kevin Sumlin steps into the Spring league scene after an extended run in the college ranks. He is joined by David Beaty who was his WR coach at Texas A&M and serves the same role with the Gamblers. DC/DB coach makes his return to Birmingham after coaching on the Iron’s staff in the AAF.
OL coach Gordon Shaw and LB coach Mark Snyder, much like Sumlin, bring their exclusive NCAAFB experience to this team. Greg McMahon serves a unique hybrid role as the ST/TE coach. Noted former NFL defensive lineman Ty Warren gets a shot at his first real gig as the DL coach following his time as an assistant with the Detroit Lions. Team assistants Brendan Donovan (defensive quality control) James Runnels (RBs) round out the staff.
The USFL is set to kickoff April 16from Birmingham, Alabama.