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Column: When it comes to Oliver Luck’s replacement, the football community is quite stumped

When asked about possible commissioner, one former XFL player said, “To be honest, I have no idea.”

Oliver Luck

Oliver Luck likely won’t return as XFL Commissioner and CEO.

After Twitter posts reported strong rumors of how Oliver Luck would not be returning as XFL CEO and Commissioner under the new ownership group, I planned to write a column suggesting various replacements for Luck.

Then I realized something… I wouldn’t even know where to begin. There are so few people that have the qualifications Luck did, who would be willing and able to handle the massive task of restarting an entire football league and doing so during a worldwide pandemic.

Luck’s background in business, his experience as president of NFL Europe, plus his contacts with the NCAA (via his work with the group and as athletic director at West Virginia), and NFL (both he and his son were quarterbacks in the league) made him uniquely qualified for the spot. His hiring lent immediate credibility to the fledgling league when Vince McMahon brought him aboard.

Therefore, having few candidates in mind myself, I decided those in and around football may have a better feel for someone capable of taking this job. So, I asked players, coaches, front office staff, agents, and media members covering football for their thoughts on who could step into the large shoes of Luck and lead the XFL.

Turns out, people in football are just as stumped as we are. Many I contacted had no suggestions. They simply couldn’t think of anyone who has the bona fides to take on such a herculean task.

That’s not to say that everyone came up empty. One former XFL position coach threw out Marc Trestman’s name, perhaps in jest. Trestman coached at the University of Miami early in his career, though he didn’t overlap with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s playing days there. That commonality may be enough to bring Trestman back as head coach of the Tampa Bay Vipers, despite the team’s 1-4 record. But, it would be difficult to envision a sizable promotion for him.

An NFL team beat writer suggested Jim Nagy, the Executive Director of the Senior Bowl, saying Nagy would be “ideal” for the position. “He’s turned the Senior Bowl into the ultimate off-season go-to event… and he’s young enough that he can be a long-term fix.”

Nagy has been a scout with numerous NFL teams, and was even in the press box for the first XFL game in 2001 between Las Vegas and New York as a scout. His contacts made in the college football world during that time, and with his current position, could prove valuable.

Part of the difficulty of forecasting a new league commissioner is not knowing exactly what their job description will be. Luck had his finger in many XFL pies as both CEO and commissioner. Will Dany Garcia, Dwayne Johnson and RedBird Capital have the same expectations? Or, will they pare down the responsibilities to be more of an advisor to the on-field product? Reshaping the position in such a way will make it easier for them to find qualified candidates.

Just as McMahon’s hiring of Luck was a crucial first step in the league gaining mainstream sports acceptance, so too will the hiring of Luck’s replacement by the new owners.

It won’t be easy. Even people inside football are at a loss for viable hires.

When asked about possible commissioner, one former XFL player said, “To be honest, I have no idea.”

Neither do we.

Greg Parks is a columnist for Pro Wrestling Torch (pwtorch.com). He covers the XFL for XFLBoard.com. He has written extensively about the XFL. He resides in Naples, Florida. Follow him on Twitter @gregmparks.

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