In February 2020, Houston will get a second professional football team as the yet-to-be-named XFL team will begin play in TDECU Stadium over on the University of Houston's campus. That's been known for quite some time. What's been unknown has been who will be named to coach and run the on-field product, but that mystery was solved on Monday morning.
As first reported by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the XFL has named June Jones as the head coach of the Houston franchise:
June Jones has been hired as the first head coach of Houston’s new XFL team. He was OC of CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats, where he was the head coach in 2018. Jones was an assistant with Oilers and Gamblers as well as HC of Falcons, Chargers, Hawaii and SMU.— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) May 13, 2019
Jones fits the profile of many of the other XFL heat coaching hires — strong experience with tangible geographical ties to the city in which his team plays. Jones spent several years in the earlier part of his career as an assistant coach in Houston, first as the wide receivers coach for the USFL's Houston Gamblers and then as the quarterbacks coach for the Houston Oilers. At each stop, he worked with future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Jim Kelly and Warren Moon, respectively.
Jones' career as a head coach has seen stops in the NFL, college football, and most recently, the Canadian Football League. His first NFL stint was in Atlanta, where he led the Falcons to the playoffs in 1995, but was fired after the 1996 season. He also spent ten games as the interim head coach for the San Diego Chargers in 1998, during Ryan Leaf's rookie year (which should prepare you for pretty much anything life has to throw at you). Ironically, Jones was replacing Kevin Gilbride, who is now the head coach for the XFL's New York franchise.
Jones is probably better known for his stints as a college head coach, most prominently in leading the University of Hawaii to a Sugar Bowl berth in 2007. From there, Jones spent seven largely nondescript seasons at SMU, from 2008 through 2015. For the last two years, he's been the head coach of the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats, which brings us to the subject of a very interesting potential reunion.
For the first six weeks of the 2018 CFL season, Jones had Johnny Manziel as a backup quarterback on his roster. The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner couldn't crack the starting lineup, as Jones stuck with Jeremiah Masoli as his starting QB. However, with Manziel now banned from the CFL, with the AAF now in bankruptcy, and with Manziel clearly wanting to continue his playing career, could we see a reunion of Jones and Manziel in Houston?
At SMU, Jones actually recruited Manzel back in high school, so the relationship between the two goes back a ways. The bigger question might be whether the XFL would want Manziel. XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck has made it clear that the league will take a long look before allowing players with any sort of checkered past, and Manziel still has a domestic violence incident on his biography from his dark days as a Cleveland Brown.
Personally, the combination of Jones' high octane offensive style and Johnny Football's throwing the rock might be enough for me to throw down for some season tickets for our currently nameless team.
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