USFL loses several coaches to XFL before 2023 season

By Sam Just

The XFL has announced its coaching staff, and wow…The USFL is quickly being shown to have a competition on its hands. They have lost ten coaches in a matter of days to the XFL, while also watching New Orleans Head Coach Larry Fedora stepping away from the league as well. We still have a full NCAA, and NFL hiring sequence to go through as well.

The Big Fish

The Biggest name on this list is Larry Fedora the head coach of the New Orleans Breakers. Fedora was an outspoken proponent of the expansion to new hubs in the future. It seems there was a deeper reason why. He wants to coach the team in its market which will not be happening yet.

How do we know this? Coach Fedora more or less told us himself when he was quoted as saying:

This essentially tells us all we need to know. Coaches and players are seeing the value in the setup the XFL offers. Whether it’s because of playing in home markets, or the fact that the XFL season ends earlier, it seems these factors are affecting decision-making. Fedora isn’t taking a position with the XFL, but his thought process is important to note.

Larry Fedora is only the first of the eight coaches to step away from the league. That doesn’t mean he is the last before the 2023 season. As I mentioned before there is a full season of NCAA, and NFL football to be played.

Their black “Monday” is typically right after the season ends. There is a chance that we see more USFL coaches hired by the NFL just months before the USFL Season starts. The big question here is whether or not the USFL starts trying to hire right away knowing that this is on the horizon.

The league has said, that all of the seven remaining head coaches are staying for the 2023 season.

Three Coordinators Lost:

Cris Dishman-New Jersey Generals to XFL Las Vegas

The unfortunate thing about this exodos of coaches is who left in particular. It was as if the biggest names ended up moving on, knowing that even if the XFL doesn’t pan out they will land on their feet. The first of these names to be leaked before the move was Defensive Coordinator Cris Dishman. Dishman was a longtime NFL player, and his ties to the NFL helped lead to his new position.

He has rejoined a former teammate in Rod Woodson with the Las Vegas XFL staff. Dishman spent thirteen years in the NFL, in which he played in two pro bowls, and was named All-Pro twice. Dishman jumped into coaching in 2004, just four years removed from his retirement from the NFL.

Despite never needing a developmental league to find success, he found his start coaching in NFL Europe. This started a long career of developing players at the spring or college football levels. In 2005 he moved on to Menlo College. By year three he was coordinating a defense for the first time, and getting his foot in the NFL door. He has since spent 20 years coaching at various levels.

Including stints in the NFL, CFL, XFL 2.0, USFL, and now the XFL 3.0. However, it wasn’t until his 2022 stint in the USFL, that he was given another chance to run his defense. He went on to coach one of the better units in the league, which helped his team to a 9-2 record overall this season. Including a nine-game winning streak. This performance has in turn earned him a raise and a lateral move to the XFL for the 2023 season.

Tim Lewis Defensive Coordinator-Houston Gamblers to XFL Arlington

Tim Lewis is a longtime coach and coordinator in the professional ranks. His first job in the NFL came way back in 1993 when he coached defensive backs for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He spent seven seasons coaching defensive backs before he was promoted into his first Coordinator role with Pittsburgh. He would leave Pittsburgh in 2004 making a lateral move to the Giants.

After three years with the Giants, he was let go as coordinator. He landed on his feet as a secondary coach a position he held for two NFC West and two NFC south teams over the next eight seasons. This streak ended in 2016 when he was out of football for two seasons. This came following an ill-fated one-year stint under Jim Tomsula, who just signed a contract extension with the ELF’s Rhein Fire.

In 2018 he got back into football as a defensive coordinator at Pinecrest Academy and it was at this point that he began his run in spring football. Immediately following his year at Pinecrest, he would accept the head coaching position with the Birmingham Iron of the Alliance of American Football. After leading his team to 5 wins in just 8 games the league collapsed. Leaving him to look for a job.

Luckily for him, the XFL was looking for assistants. He landed with the Jonathan Hayes-led St. Louis Battlehawks as the defensive backs coach. He spent just 5 games with the XFL before Covid forced the league to shut down. In 2021 he was again out of football but got another chance with the 2022 version of the USFL as the defensive coordinator of the Houston Gamblers. After a solid job coaching up his unit in 2022, Lewis followed his 2020 XFL head coach, Hayes back to the XFL this time under head coach Bob Stoops with the Arlington franchise.

Greg McMahon Special Teams/Tight Ends Houston Gamblers to XFL Houston

This move is more or less proof that coaches prefer the setup, and host cities of the XFL currently. McMahon makes a lateral move to the XFL Houston franchise from the USFL’s Houston named team. He will work under Wade Phillips the latest in a long line of amazing coaches he has worked for during his career. From Sumlin to Sean Payton, and Brian Kelly, he is no stranger to star-studded staff.

This is simply par for the course during his career that has spanned 40 years. McMahon got his start coaching special teams and tight ends way back in 1990. This was during his time with UNLV. He was hired to coach tight ends, offensive tackles, and special teams. From there it was like these two roles just stuck for the remainder of his career to this point.

His only break from these positions came from 1992-1996 when he spent time with the Illinois Fighting Illini as their wide receiver coach. This was before moving back to tight ends/special teams in 1997 staying with Illinois for another 8 seasons in Illinois leaving in 2004. In 2005 he spent one year in East Carolina before receiving the call of a lifetime from Sean Payton in 2006 when he was hired as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints.

McMahon would spend the next 11 seasons in New Orleans under Payton until he was let go following the 2016 season. This move, however, didn’t send him to another state as he landed with LSU for the 2017 season a position he held up until a brief retirement following 2021. Now after a 2022 season with the Houston Gamblers, McMahon has now landed a coveted job with the XFL. Less than two years after announcing his retirement.

Position Coaches:

OL Pat Perles Pittsburgh Maulers-XFL St. Louis

Perles is a longtime NFL, CFL, and NCAA offensive line coach before joining the USFL. He is also the son of former Michigan State head coach George Perles. He has had stints with the Kansas City Chiefs, L.A. Rams, Hamilton Tiger-Cats, Winnipeg Blue Bombers, and Saskatchewan Roughriders at the professional level. He would have a long stint back in the college game.

Originally coaching for Syracuse following his departure from Kansas City. He spent time under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan. Before accepting an offensive coordinator position with the Northern Michigan Wildcats. After bouncing around the college level for several years, he found a position with the USFL in 2022. His experience will be missed by the Maulers players.

OL/STC Jon Himebauch Birmingham Stallions-XFL Arlington

Coach Himebauch might have THE most decorated resume in all of Spring Football. First of all, Himebauch won the first-ever XFL championship as an offensive lineman with the Los Angeles Extreme and followed that with a World Bowl Victory in 2002 with the Rhein Fire. He would split the next 15 seasons between the CFL and college ranks. Winning two Grey Cup Titles with Montreal along the way.

He would split the next 15 seasons between the CFL, and various college positions before reuniting with a Spring Football league in 2019. This time he coached in the AAF with the San Antonio Commanders under Mike Riley. When the AAF shut down he landed back with the XFL this time under Marc Trestman with the Tampa Bay Vipers.

He spent the next two seasons coaching in my home state for the Air Force Falcons. That was until the USFL came calling. Himebauch now adds the title of special teams coordinator. Duties that he had filled with the USFL as well. His experience is hard to replace, and this leaves questions for the Stallions to answer.

DL Bill Johnson Birmingham Stallions-XFL Houston

Coach Johnson has been tutoring players for over four decades. He spent the first twenty years of his career in the college ranks. He began his career at his alma mater Northwestern State. He spent 5 seasons with the school before moving on. Over the next 15 years, he had stints with McNeese State, Miami, Louisiana Tech, Arkansas, and Texas A&M.

In 2001 he was given his first chance to coach in the NFL by Dan Reeves of the Atlanta Falcons. The following season none other than Wade Phillips took over as defensive coordinator. This started a relationship that would stand the test of time over two decades, as they reunited in 2017 with the Rams, and now have decided to coach together for the third time in the XFL.

DB Corey Chamblin Birmingham Stallions-XFL San Antonio

Chamblin is another extremely decorated coach. He began his coaching career in 2006 with the NFL Europe winning a World Bowl. In 2007 he began a long career in the Canadian Football League. Beginning with Winnipeg as their defensive backs coach. In 2008 he jumped to Calgary where he won the Grey cup and ultimately spent the next three years. Finally, in 2011 he was handed his first coordinator position with Hamilton.

After just one season as a coordinator for Hamilton, he was hired as the head coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. In his first three seasons, he produced a 29-25 record making the playoffs three times and winning the Grey Cup in 2013. Following an 0-9 start in 2015, he was fired. In 2017 he spent the year with the Toronto Argonauts as the Defensive Backs Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Assistant Head Coach under Marc Trestman.

This proved to be a fruitful partnership when they won the Grey Cup. In 2018, he spent one season with Arkansas as their defensive backs coach.  In 2019 after the Argos fired Trestman, they hired Chamblin as the head coach. However, he was fired after a 4-14 season. This led to a brief hiatus before returning to football in the USFL where he won yet another Championship game. Can he repeat this in the XFL?

DL Ty Warren Houston Gamblers-XFL Orlando

Ty Warren is best known as the defensive lineman for the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos. He played in the NFL from 2003 to 2012. In 2007 he was named First Team All-Pro for the Patriots. By the time he retired as a player, he was a two-time Super Bowl Champion despite both wins have come in his first two seasons as a player.

He didn’t immediately jump into coaching. He would spend 7 years away from the game before he began serving as a volunteer assistant with the Detroit Lions. This came about due to his relationship with Matt Patricia. In 2020 he took a more official title with the WCF Minority Coaching internship.

Warren must have enjoyed his time coaching because just one season removed from his time in Detroit, he accepted a position with the Houston Gamblers as a defensive line coach. He has now moved on to the XFL to work under a former teammate during the 2004 Super Bowl Run. Terrell Buckley.

LB Mark Snyder Houston Gamblers-XFL Orlando

Mark Snyder is a former safety for Marshall and still currently holds the single-season record for interceptions with 10 a mark he set in 1987. Following his graduation, he immediately went into coaching the position he had played with his Alma Matter once again. He moved on to UCF in 1989 where he spent two seasons before receiving a rather large promotion from Youngstown State.

Youngstown brought in Snyder as their ST/LB/DC/DB coach. So essentially…he ran the entire defense and special teams units just four seasons into his coaching career. He would hold this role until the 1996 season when he was hired by Minnesota to coach defensive ends. In 2001 with Ohio State he found his home as a LB coach also serving as a defensive coordinator.

Read the rest of the article in USFL News Hub here.