Washington’s XFL team doesn’t have a name, logo or uniforms, but it now has a face of the franchise.
The team introduced Pep Hamilton as its head coach and general manager at a news conference at Audi Field on Thursday.
“We wanted guys that had experience, that were able to do both the college and the pro game,” XFL Commissioner and CEO Oliver Luck said. “Pep’s got a pretty good background in that space. We wanted guys who were flexible enough to work for a start-up, because it’s a little bit different.
“He was super excited when I mentioned that D.C. could be a possibility. It all came together really nicely.”
Hamilton, 44, has ties to the leadership of the XFL, having coached Luck’s son Andrew as an offensive assistant at Stanford and with the Indianapolis Colts. The league’s director of football operations, Sam Schwartzstein, played on the offensive line at Stanford while Hamilton was there.
“When Oliver was announced as the CEO and commissioner of the XFL, it immediately became intriguing for me and my family,” Hamilton said. “The Luck family has been good to the Hamilton family.”
Hamilton played quarterback at Howard University and got his first coaching job as Howard’s quarterbacks coach in 1997. Hamilton’s other college coaching stops came at Stanford (2010-2012) and Michigan (2017-2018). He has had NFL coaching stints with the Baltimore Ravens (2002), New York Jets (2003-2005), San Francisco 49ers (2006), Chicago Bears (2007-2009), Colts (2013-2015) and Cleveland Browns (2016).
Hamilton has lived in Washington during football offseasons since attending Howard.
“It’s been our home base,” Hamilton said. “I live over near the Eastern Market, so our fans will see me around. … I’m just grateful for the opportunity to come back and have familiar faces, people that I trust, around me to help my family transition back to the DMV full time.”
This is Hamilton’s first head coaching position at any level, but he said he is not worried about his ability to get this new franchise off the ground.
“I’ve always approached the game the same way,” Hamilton said. “I have the utmost respect for preparation. Over the last 20 years I’ve gained a lot of experience from the coaches I’ve been around and that I’ve worked for. To have an opportunity to come back to the place that I consider to be my home and be a part of the construction of a professional football franchise is something I’m excited about.”
An offensive coach throughout his career, Hamilton described his system as “an attacking, fast-paced style of play that will feature the playmakers that we have on the team.”
Hamilton said he will have his coaching staff in place by June. The league expects to unveil names, logos and uniforms for all eight franchises in either March or April. The league, which plans to kick off in the spring of 2020, will begin signing players, primarily quarterbacks, after all eight head coaches are announced.
The league’s Dallas franchise introduced Oklahoma coaching legend Bob Stoops as its head coach and general manager earlier in the month. Sirius XM’s Alex Marvez reported that former Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn will join the XFL as a head coach. The likely destination for Zorn is Seattle, where he remains popular because of his nine seasons as a Seahawks quarterback. The Seattle head coach and general manager will be introduced Monday.
The XFL will be competing for viewers with the Alliance of American Football, which, after good ratings and positive reviews its first weekend, reportedly faced issues in its second week.
Luck said he likes some of what the AAF has been doing, including the pace of play and listening in on replay reviews. He says unlike the AAF, the XFL will have a kickoff, albeit a refined version with specifics that are still being worked out.
“We’re trying to keep the ‘foot’ in ‘football,’” Luck said. “And it’s not the kickoff that matters, it’s the return that people like. … We’ll have a kickoff that people will recognize and say, ‘Oh, that’s a pretty damn good idea,’ and it’s safer for the guys that, in the past, were sprinting down because it’s the velocity that causes the danger.”