By Jay Betsill
The Super Bowl has come and gone and the normal eight month drought of no pro football has been replaced by the XFL which includes the Dallas Renegades among its eight teams playing a 10-game schedule en route to its championship game on April 26th.
While last year’s Alliance of American Football’s sudden downfall is a reminder that spring football is a tough sell, the now defunct pro football league did have big TV ratings out of the gate and while it eventually failed due lack of funding, the AAF did show that there is interest in the product. With WWE chairman and CEO Vince McMahon’s fortune behind the XFL, the new league should have a cushion to fall back on when it inevitably loses money in its infancy.
The Renegades are the XFL team with the most buzz following its announcement of legendary Oklahoma Sooners Bob Stoops as head coach and general manager and the subsequent reunion with Sooners quarterback Landry Jones as the team’s signal caller. Hal Mumme, known as one of the founders of the air raid offense, is the Renegades offensive coordinator.
Stoops won 10 Big 12 titles and a national championship during his 18-year career with the Sooners.
Jones was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the fourth round (115th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft and also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Oakland Raiders organizations.
Other coaches of note include June Jones (Houston), Jim Zorn (Seattle), Marc Trestman (Tampa Bay) and Kevin Gilbride (New York).
Notable assistants include Jerry Glanville (Tampa Bay defensive coordinator) and Los Angeles’ offensive (Norm Chow) and defensive (Pepper Johnson) coordinators.
The Renegades open their season against the St. Louis Battlehawks on Sunday at 4 pm at Globe Life Park, the former home of the Texas Rangers which underwent a renovation with a price tag in the neighborhood of $10 million to be retrofitted as a football stadium. The new-look stadium that many still call the “ballpark” features a new grandstand to provide better sightlines for the XFL games and the stadium’s other new tenant, the North Texas SC soccer team.
Fans of the Renegades will quickly learn that the new XFL will have its own set of rules to speed up the action that include teams getting two timeouts per half rather than the customary three in the NFL, 10 minute halftimes and the clock continuing to run on incompletions and balls going out of bounds.
Coin tosses are also a thing of the past for the XFL as the home team automatically decides if they want to take the ball or defer at the beginning of the game. Should the game go to overtime, the visiting team gets the call of either getting the ball or kicking off.
As for said overtime, it resembles an NHL shootout more than any traditional overtime as each team gets five possessions to score from the 5-yard line and will go in perpetuity until a team is mathematically eliminated.
XFL officiating chief Dean Blandino told ESPN that the standard for replay will be if a particular play has “significant competitive impact in the outcome of the game.” There are no coaches challenges and only the replay official can stop the game. The final five minutes also allows the replay booth official to act as a “sky judge” and essentially throw a flag or reverse a penalty call.
Betting will be much more prevalent in the XFL as ESPN and ABC will be including betting lines in their scoreboards. According to the Action Network, the Renegades are a 8.5 favorite against St. Louis.
According to Bet MGM, the Renegades are the favorites to win the 2020 XFL Championship at +250.
XFL games will be aired on FOX, ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 or FS2.