Oliver Luck signs Bob Stoops to Coach in the XFL.”That’s not something, I am going to be interested in,” Bob Stoops said when the XFL initially reached out to him over a month ago. Stoops was echoing the sentiments of millions of sports fans, when they first heard about the return of the XFL.
At this point, not being interested in the XFL is probably still the feeling of most sports fans, but there’s no denying that the improbable return of the league was matched or bettered by the shocking announcement that legendary coach Bob Stoops was buying in. Changing people’s perception of the league is not going to be an overnight accomplishment, but this is a big step forward in doing so. Call it a “Stroke of Oliver Luck.”
Eyebrows were raised with astonishment when it became official that Bob Stoops had signed a two-year deal, becoming the Head Coach and General Manager of the XFL’s Dallas pro-football team. Very few saw this coming. When NFL reporter Benjamin Allbright reported in January that Bob Stoops was contemplating a return to coaching, in the XFL, he was mocked and ridiculed. There were people on social media that were ripping news sources that finally confirmed the Bob Stoops rumor as a reality. One Twitter user even cursed out ESPN for “getting it wrong.” This person thought that Stoops was signing with the other league, and was angry that ESPN got the league name wrong. Almost as if to say, “How could this possibly be right?”
Regardless of the negative perception of the XFL, some of it was earned through sins of the league’s past. There’s no denying what a great hiring CEO and Commissioner Oliver Luck pulled off here with his football operations staff. This is a superb hire in any league, or for any college program, let alone an upstart spring pro-football league that has baggage. There was no one happier this past week than Oliver Luck. He was downright giddy. He deserves to pat himself on the back for this hire. If he was running the Cincinnati Bengals and made this hire, it would be worthy of praise. But this is not the NFL. Luck actually convinced Stoops to take the unlikely plunge of being an XFL head coach. At this point, it’s quite clear that the XFL’s best asset is their commissioner.
It was reported and highlighted through video by Mark Berman in Houston, that Oliver Luck, through his close associate and friend newly minted Houston Cougars coach Dana Holgorsen, reached out to Bob Stoops to gauge his interest. Holgorsen told Luck that Stoops was getting the itch to get back into coaching. Stoops dilemma was that he didn’t want to get back into the college ranks. He wanted to be near his three kids, who are attending Oklahoma. He wanted to see his son play college ball in the fall.
The XFL, as absurd of an option as it appeared to be initially, turned out to be an ideal fit for what Stoops was looking for. He had nothing left to accomplish in college. No interest in getting back on the recruiting grind, and no interest in being away from Oklahoma or his family. Then, in comes Oliver Luck with the ideal job. It was Luck, who convinced Stoops that the XFL was going to be a respectable and viable entity. This is something Oliver Luck has been working really hard at doing, especially in the last couple of weeks. After an interview with ‘The Professor” John Clayton on his ‘Schooled’ podcast in Seattle, Clayton commented on how his conversation with Luck, changed his viewpoint on the league. Even legendary sportscaster Tim Brando applauded Oliver Luck and their hiring of Bob Stoops, stating that the XFL had “more juice” than the AAF.” Brando even commented on social media that the hiring of Oliver Luck told him, “all he needed to know.” The television decisions they have in front of them will be fun to watch moving forward.” Brando currently works for Fox Sports, which coincidentally is the rumored broadcasting co-partner of the XFL. It’s not a stretch to think that Brando could be a part of the presentation.
Besides the obvious credibility and name recognition that Bob Stoops brings to the league, his expertise in college football and recruiting also greatly benefits the XFL. This is a football coach who has recent knowledge of the college football game, not someone who has been out of the loop for 10 to 15 years. Stoops is going to be recruiting and signing from a pool of players that he is extremely familiar with, something he mentioned on Dallas Radio Friday. Not only players that he successfully recruited and coached at Oklahoma University, but even players that he recruited but ended up landing at Texas, Texas A&M, or TCU, etc, and players and coaches he coached with and against. During an interview on “The Ticket,” in Dallas, Stoops stated that he is already fielding “millions” of calls from coaches and football players that are looking to join him in Dallas. Having “Optimum Scouting” as the league’s direct scouting department, and VP Doug Whaley’s scouting expertise, will also aid Stoops and the other seven head coach/gm’s that sign on.
Pep Hamilton may be the next XFL Head Coach/GM hiring. He is rumored to be taking on the challenge of finally getting to run his own pro-football team in Washington D.C. Hamilton has ties to Oliver Luck, coaching and coordinating offenses for his son Andrew at Stanford and Indianapolis. Hamilton also coached current XFL Director of Football Operations, Sam Schwartzstein. Beyond those connections to the league office. Hamilton went to school and started his coaching career in D.C. at Howard University. Like Stoops, Hamilton has experience in the college game, but also brings along pro-football experience as well. It’s clear at this point, that when Oliver Luck drops hints it’s not just noise or false hype. He revealed on Radio Row that a coach from a major college program had signed on. That turned out to be true. On Texas radio, he stated that a former coordinator that didn’t have head coaching experience, had signed on. That spells out Hamilton. His other hint on Houston Radio with Sean Salisbury, was that, “former NFL head coaches have left assistant jobs to sign on with the XFL.” Perhaps, with the heightened amount of attention towards the league with the Stoops hiring. credible reporters like Benjamin Allbright will out-scoop everyone again on the next group of names.
Legendary Chinese Philosopher Lau Tzu once said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Oliver Luck and the XFL just took a giant-step forward in their journey towards credibility and redemption.
Mike was one of the original XFLBoard.com Team Reporters in 2001. We welcome him back to the XFLBoard and look forward to his insightful contributions.