The eyes of Texas are upon the XFL

Jerrod Heard – TexasSports.com

Saturday at 12 o’clock central standard time, the Longhorns and Sooners will battle for bragging rights and the golden hat, but mostly for bragging rights.

I emphasize “bragging rights” because that’s truly what the Red River Showdown is all about.

Even after players finish their collegiate careers at their respective universities, the rivalry continues to live on when former Sooners and Longhorns come together.

The likelihood of seeing this during next week’s XFL draft is highly likely.

In honor of the Red River Showdown, I want to highlight two former players from both universities and their success during this historical match-up, who are hoping to hear their name called come draft day.

JERROD HEARD

In 2015, Jerrod Heard stepped on the “40 acres” as a two time Texas state champion from Denton Guyer where he broke several records and was one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

Prior to the season starting, Heard lost the quarterback competition against Tyrone Swoopes.  Only to replace Swoopes after a lopsided loss to Notre Dame to start the season.

Heard, continued to utilize his dual threat style of play against the Rice Owls and again against the Cal Golden Bears accounting for 527 yards of total offense, breaking former Texas quarterback Vince Young single game record in a 45-44 loss.

For his fourth career start, Heard had to face the #10 Oklahoma Sooners. Heard and the Texas Longhorns entered that game as underdogs, and head coach Charlie Strong was under immense pressure to win against their bitter rivals after losing two consecutive games.

With pressure at its highest, the freshman quarterback answered the call.

Heard only attempted 11 passes but threw a touchdown, and was able to utilize his running ability again being one of two Longhorns to run for over 100 yards, in their 24-17 victory over the 10th ranked Sooners.

The Longhorns finished that season with a 5-7 record. The Longhorns fired Strong and hired the hot commodity in coaching, Tom Herman.

Heard went on to finish his collegiate career at Texas as a wide receiver totaling 45 receptions 425 and 4 touchdowns.

RYAN BROYLES

Ryan Broyles – Credit

The two time All-American, real estate developer in Oklahoma, and now XFL hopeful, last played professional football in 2015.

Broyles, a product of Norman, played defensive back and wide receiver in High School, finished his career with 79 receptions 1,688 yards and 18 touchdowns on offense and recorded 157 tackles and 20 interceptions on defense. He was named OCA All-State in football, and also a standout in track and field being one of the state’s top performers in high jump.

The instant he suited up for the Sooners he was a star, recording 7 receptions and 141 yards, both freshman school records, against the University of Cincinnati. He finished the 2008 season setting multiple freshman records, including tying the record for receptions in a lone season (46) and receiving yards (687) and touchdowns (6).

In his sophomore season he recorded 76 receptions for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns. In the season finale in the Sun Bowl vs Stanford Broyles received the honor of being name Sun Bowl MVP after totaling 13 catches for 156 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Although Broyles was highly productive , his stats against the Longhorns were not as impressive as they were against other teams.

In 2008,  the Sooners lost to the Longhorns 45-35. He recorded 5 receptions for 36 yards and 1 TD. In 2009, the Sooners lost to the Longhorns again in a close game 16-13. He recorded 2 receptions for 33 yards and 1 TD. (Lowest receptions recorded playing Texas) In 2010,  his Sooners finally got the “monkey off their back” and beat the Longhorns, but Broyles only recorded 5 receptions for 36 yards and 1 touchdown.

Keep in mind 2010 was the best year he had statistically, leading the FBS in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He also entered the season as a preseason All-American and finished the season first team All-Big 12.

In 2011, he flipped the script.

Broyles went off for a game-high nine receptions for 122 yards and 1 touchdown against Texas leading his team to a 55-17 victory against the Longhorns.

He went on to finish his career breaking the record for career receptions in the FBS, recording 349 receptions (now 3rd) and receiving, recording 4,586 yards (now 3rd).  His record of 4,586 yards still stands as the most yards ever recorded by a receiver in the Big 12.

Drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2nd round of the 2012 draft (54th overall), Broyles played two full seasons with the Lions, and in 2015 decided to focus on life outside of football.

Broyles has elected to come out of retirement to enlist his services to one of the eight teams in the XFL, and I am sure he will find a home where he can have just as much impact on his new team as he did when he played for the University of Oklahoma.

In conclusion, this rivalry has provided more than exciting moments in football history, elite talent, and intense battles for the golden hat.

A trophy? No. This is much more than a trophy. This is about the chance to dig at your arch nemesis each and every year. This is about being able to say “my team got the better of your team” for the next 365 days.

I am sure the two players I highlighted, are prepared to bring that same intensity from their collegiate rivalry to the XFL.

The Sooners the Better

Head coach Bob Stoops gives high fives to quarterback Landry Jones after a touchdown against Idaho State.  (The Oklahoman)

The XFL draft is upon us, and the Dallas Renegades will have a choice of who will represent the team in their first round draft pick. Many have speculated that the former Oklahoma quarterback and also former Pittsburgh Steeler Landry Jones will be the franchise player to bear the title.

Why does this sound so sweet? Landry Jones and Bob Stoops built a solid relationship on and off the field during their tenure at the University of Oklahoma.

Let’s go back to 2008 shall we?

Jones, backup to Sam Bradford his freshman year, was inserted into the first week of action once Bradford went down with an shoulder injury. The Sooners lost that game, but this did not stop Jones and Stoops from building an instant connection the next week against the Idaho State Vandals.

The Landry Jones era began with a BANG!

Jones finished the day completing 18 out of 32 passes, 286 yards through the air, and 3 passing touchdowns in a 64-0 victory over the Vandals. The next week Jones had another impressive day against the Golden Hurricanes of Tulsa University throwing a Sooner record of six passing touchdowns and received AT&T All America Player of the Week honors.

This was just the beginning of a dominating career Jones would go on to have at the University of Oklahoma, finishing his collegiate career with 16,646 passing yards and 123 touchdowns.

Typically, the constructs of a team begin with having the franchise quarterback, and then the franchise adds the other foundational pieces to the puzzle.

All sights are set on this duo and the success they were able to achieve at the University of Oklahoma. Bob Stoops was hired primarily to build a dynastic team in Dallas to win several championships. With Jones, the Renegades may find the perfect fit to spread the gospel of Stoops in the locker room.

With the draft less than a week away the Renegades can get off to an amazing start as a franchise if the front office can pull this off. I am predicting with Jones at the helm as the starting quarterback, the Renegades may be the team to beat. That’s an amazing way to kick the inaugural season off as the new team in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area.

Bob Stoops’ autobiography discusses his decision to join the XFL and more

Bob Stoops’ autobiography, “No Excuses: The Making of a Head Coach,” is now now available at bookstores and online at Amazon.com.

In the book Stoops discusses subjects such as now-Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon, his heart disease, and the decision to join the XFL. Stoops talks about his decision to not cut Mixon after a misdemeanor assault charge.

“I could have cut Mixon loose in 2014,” Stoops said. “In 2019, that’s the only choice that would’ve been acceptable. If I were faced with the same situation today, my decision would be much different than the one I made in 2014.”

Book summary:

When Bob Stoops took over as football coach in 1999, the Oklahoma Sooners were in disarray with back-to-back losing seasons. But in just two years’ time, Stoops achieved the seemingly impossible: winning a national championship and returning the struggling Sooners to their powerhouse status, churning out NFL talent, Heisman Trophy winners and conference championships, bowl wins and national title runs on a regular basis.

During his 18 seasons at OU, his record was a remarkable 190-48. At only age 56, at the peak of his career, he stunned the college football world by walking away.

For the first time, Bob opens up about his career alongside the evolution of the game itself. From his unlikely emergence as a star player at the University of Iowa, to his coaching apprenticeships under giants like Hayden Fry, Bill Snyder, and Steve Spurrier, Stoops recounts how the game he fell in love with as a boy has evolved into a billion-dollar business often compromised by recruiting wars, aggressive agents, overzealous boosters and alumni, and the emergence of the CEO head coach rather than mentor and teacher. Bob holds nothing back while explaining why it was time to step away from the game–and players–he still loves.

Told with a rare combination of sincerity, vulnerability, and pure heart, No Excuses is both an engaging and eye-opening football memoir and an unprecedented portrait of a coach of one of the greatest legacy programs in the history of the college game.

Johnny Football to Dallas? Don’t count on it…

Johnny Manziel 2014 Browns training camp https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Johnny_Manziel_2014_Browns_training_camp_(3).jpg

Johnny Manziel at one point was one of the most exciting quarterbacks to play the game when he was wearing the Texas A&M Aggies uniform. Since then? Not so much.

Manziel has bounced around since being drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns back in 2014. He spent two seasons there before being cut from the team in 2016 and then proceeded to join the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League in 2018. After six weeks there, he got traded to the Montreal Alouettes, but after the 2018 season, he was released by the league after they had determined that he had “contravened” with his agreement with the league. He found a home shortly afterwards with the Memphis Express of the now defaulted Alliance of American Football. That’s where this story really begins.

Before joining the Express, the San Antonio Commanders had first claim on him since that was the team geographically closest to where he went to college. Commanders General Manager Daryl Johnston (former Dallas Cowboys fullback) waived his rights and that’s how he joined the Express. Johnston has never been the biggest fan of Manziel and that has been evident in the past, but he’s back in the news again regarding Manziel as he once again says he would pass on him.

“For me the chemistry in the locker room is critical, and especially the quarterback position,” now Dallas Renegades Director of Player Personnel Johnston said according to SportsDay. “He kind of sets the tone, especially for the offensive side of the ball, but really for the whole team. There is so much added responsibility that goes with the face, goes with the voice of the franchise. And I haven’t seen that from Johnny on a consistent basis that I would feel comfortable committing to him.”

There’s no question that Manziel’s troubled past has been the main reason he has not returned to the NFL, but the XFL is a league of second chances. This is where Manziel belongs for two reasons: 1. I have every reason to believe that he has truly matured with how he was with interviews with the Express when he played in the Alliance. 2. He would put people in the seats of every XFL football stadium no matter how people feel about him.

I personally believe the Houston Roughnecks would be perfect for him since he already has a personal relationship with June Jones from their time in the CFL. Manziel does not fit the offensive scheme that Dallas Renegades head coach Bob Stoops will have and I still believe the league will do what it takes to get Stoops and recent signed quarterback Landry Jones back together.

Manziel was average during his time in the Alliance as he was outshined by 3rd string quarterback Brandon Silvers (one of the XFL draft invitees) and never really had a chance to prove himself. I know he had second and third chances in the CFL and the Alliance, but there is still some spark of excitement with how he plays and I think he still somewhat salvage his career. Johnston may not see it now, but with a new league trying to attract attention and giving players another chance at playing professional football, I think it’s time for all of us to move on from the past and let’s give Manziel another shot.

Big news in big D: Dallas Renegades

There’s an old saying in Texas: “Everything’s bigger in Texas.” That would be the perfect statement to describe the kind of day it was for the XFL and XFL die-hards.

The names and logos were announced for all 8 of the teams Wednesday that included a combined coverage from the XFL, ESPN, and Fox Sports.

For Dallas, they got a first glimpse of their team as they will be called the Renegades. The Renegades are sporting a light blue main color followed by red on the eyes of the renegade and black around the outline of the face.

The renegades fits perfectly with what Texas is all about with the theme being “gunslingers, outlaws, and desperadoes” from the old days out in the country. The logo was a tough look to it with the text of “Dallas Renegades” is good-looking and makes sense for the Dallas team.

There has been some controversy with the logo as on Twitter, esports personality Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles tweeted after the announcement saying “What the actual f***. The Dallas XFL team just straight up stole the @Renegades name and logo. That was my creative vision.”

According to the other Renegade’s website, they were acquired by former NBA player Jonas Jerebko in 2016 as the website also states that the “Renegades is North America’s premier multi-gaming esports organization. Featuring professional players and teams in the world’s largest competitive games. Recent breakout performances in Counter-Strike:Global Offensive, Fortnite, and Paladins has helped launch Renegades into becoming one of the most prominent and recognized sports franchise around the world.”

Will anything come out of this claim made by MonteCristo on Twitter? Who knows, but with logos and names being released, Dallas fans can enjoy this exciting time of knowing who their new professional football team is and get ready for the XFL Draft in October to see who will be wearing the blue, red, and black colors on their jerseys in February.

Introducing the Dallas Renegades

YouTube video

 

The XFL has named their Dallas franchise, the Dallas Renegades.

“Deep in the heart of Texas… beats a different kind of pulse. A spirit untamed. A swagger that can’t be denied. Where big meets bold meets badass. This is outlaw country, inside the lines. This is hell on wheels, between hash marks. This is their home on the range. The Dallas Renegades. Raising hell. February 2020.”

Under head coach Bob Stoops, the team will begin play in Globe Life Park, in Arlington Texas, in February 2020.

XFL Dallas hosting team name reveal event Wednesday

Wednesday is the big day when XFL fans can finally know the names and logos of their respective cities. The XFL Dallas team will be having their own celebration of the historic day.

The XFL Dallas team posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages sharing that they will be hosting their team name reveal event on Wednesday at South Victory Plaza on 3090 Olive Street in downtown Dallas. The event will take place at 11:15 am CT, just 15 minutes prior to the team names being revealed on the XFL, ESPN, and Fox websites.

For local Dallas XFL fans, it’s a first chance to meet their new team and the members of the organization and spend their lunch break celebrating an event XFL fans have been waiting for.

Boomer Sooner Reunion? XFL should hope so

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the Bob Stoops and Landry Jones come back together and take the league by storm.

Bob Stoops and Landry Jones both were together in Dallas at the Cotton Bowl for four years straight when they took on the Texas Longhorns in the Red River Showdown. Jones became the Big 12’s all time leading passer with 16,646 yards and 123 touchdowns under Bob Stoops’ guidance. The two together combined for 40-13 record in Jones’ four years at OU. Oh, and not to mention that Jones was named after Dallas Cowboys coaching legend Tom Landry. Call it destiny?

Jones fits the prototypical Stoops quarterback: tall, drop back/pocket passer. He would obviously fit in perfectly with Stoop’s offensive system with his familiarity with how to run the offense and would be a fan favorite right away in Dallas. The two would instantly be one of the favorites to win the Western Conference and take home the XFL title.

In an interview with James Hale of SportsTalk1400’s “Total Sports” back in July, Stoops told him, “Oh, he still looks great. He can still sling the ball, and just is in good shape, maybe not prime like he had been, but he’ll work himself back into shape. But he can still throw the football as well as anybody and has worked in our offense before, so I think Landry will have a really good future in this.”

It would be the XFL’s dream to see the two come back together and take the league by storm. They can sell tickets to fans at Globe Life Park with the pair being back together since they are close to the Oklahoma border. It’s true that there might be a lot of Longhorn fans in the area, but Sooner fans would not be able to resist driving 3-4 hours from Norman to watch the pair back together.

I don’t usually condone backdoor collusion, but this might be a case where I would make an exception. The XFL needs to create as many headlines as possible to get the press and fans excited for the league to begin play in February. A “family” reunion of sorts would be a good headline before kickoff.

More high-powered hires for the XFL including NBC Sports Veteran Len Mead

On Wednesday, the XFL shared the details of four new staff hires, one at XFL headquarters, one in Dallas and two in Seattle.

XFL Headquarters

Len Mead has joined as Vice President, Media Partnerships in the league’s headquarters in Stamford, CT. He will manage the day-to-day relationships with the XFL’s broadcast partners FOX Sports and ABC/ESPN as well as exploring potential new partners in TV, radio, and other platforms. Len joins the XFL after nine years with NBC Sports Regional Networks where he was initially hired as VP Production & Programming for then Comcast Sportsnet New England before moving west to be General Manager of NBC Sports Northwest. Prior to NBC, Len worked in programming at NESN and ESPN where he was on the original launch team of ‘ESPN360’ (now ESPN3) and conceived the ‘Megacast’ concept which ESPN continues to use around major events.

XFL Dallas

Rob Carolla will head up communications for XFL Dallas after spending nearly 25 years as a sports administrator. He recently served as President of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) – the national organization for communicators in college athletics – concluding a six-year term on the Board of Directors in 2018-19. During stints at the College Football 150th Anniversary, Big 12 and Big East Conferences and Conference USA, he has handled various external duties on national, regional and local levels. He is a graduate of the University of Connecticut and was born and raised in New Jersey.

XFL Seattle

Michelle DeLancy has joined XFL Seattle as senior director of marketing, and will be responsible for building the XFL Seattle fan base, creating awareness campaigns, engaging fans across platforms including the game day experience and operations while driving business performance. A Seattle native, she most recently was the general manager at ABC Creators where she oversaw all aspects of the business including brand management, event operations, sponsor sales, athlete relations and development, marketing and communications. She spent the majority of her career with Virginia Mason Medical as executive director of the Boeing Classic, a PGA Tour Champions event held annually in the Seattle area where she oversaw all aspects of the event and the relationship with the PGA Tour.

Pete Tenney, also a Seattle native, joins as director of content production and operations, and will lead the team’s content and production department, overseeing the creation of all XFL Seattle digital content (video and graphics for web, app, etc.), use content to engage fans through storytelling and develop a social media strategy and execution for all XFL Seattle social accounts. He joins from the NFL Players Association where he served as creative director and produced an athlete content series teaming with Amazon, Spotify, EA Sports, and Warner Bros. Before his time with the NFLPA, he was a senior producer at Bleacher Report where he created athlete video franchises and live content.

XFL Names Dallas Native Grady Raskin President of City’s New Team

Grady Raskin, most recently Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the NHL Dallas Stars, has been named President of the XFL team in his native Dallas.

Stamford, Conn., June 27, 2019 – The XFL today announced that Grady Raskin, most recently Vice President of Corporate Partnerships for the NHL Dallas Stars, has been named President of the XFL team in his native Dallas.

The Dallas XFL team will take the field in February 2020 for its inaugural season and play its home games at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. Bob Stoops is the team’s head coach and general manager.

Raskin will be responsible for the team’s fan engagement and business operations, including ticket sales, corporate partnerships, marketing, content, communications, community relations, and game day experience.

“Vince McMahon, Oliver Luck and I are thrilled to welcome Grady to the XFL as our eighth and final team president this year,” said Jeffrey Pollack, XFL President and Chief Operating Officer. “As a Dallas native who has called the Metroplex home his entire life, Grady understands the heart and soul of local sports fans and he’s deeply connected in the business community. We know that, working alongside Coach Stoops, he will help us connect with the community and build something special.”

“The XFL has attracted an impressive group of coaches and sports executives to its ranks, and I’d like to thank Vince McMahon and Jeffrey Pollack for the opportunity to lead the team in my hometown and work with the legendary Bob Stoops,” said Raskin. “Knowing how passionate football fans in North Texas are, it’s humbling and extremely energizing to take on this new challenge. We are eager to begin the process of building a first-class organization devoted to creating fan-first experiences and strong partnerships throughout the community.”

Raskin began his 22-year sports career as an intern for MLB’s Texas Rangers in 1996 and soon worked his way up to Director of Advertising Sales, selling corporate partnerships for three sports entities owned by Tom Hicks (Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars, and Mesquite Rodeo), as well as the newly-constructed American Airlines Center. He was elevated to Vice President of Business Development for the Rangers and Stars in 2007, then, upon the sale of the teams in 2009, moved to the Rangers exclusively. Raskin rejoined the Stars in 2012, serving as Vice President of Corporate Partnerships, managing all partnership sales and activations. Over his career, he has experienced two Western Conference Championships and a Stanley Cup Championship with the Stars, and two American League Pennants with the Rangers.

A cum laude graduate of George Washington University with a Bachelor of Business Administration with a concentration in sports management, Raskin was a three-year letterman on the university’s Division I baseball team. He lives in Dallas with his wife Ally and their two children.