NEW YORK (AP) — Jim Zorn will return to the sideline to coach the XFL’s Seattle team against Washington’s when the new league kicks off on Saturday, Feb. 8.
Zorn has ties to both cities. The longtime quarterback for the Seahawks and head coach for the Redskins for two seasons (2008-09) also is general manager of Seattle Dragons, who face Pep Hamilton’s DC Defenders in Washington when the eight-team XFL begins play the weekend after the Super Bowl.
The XFL released the schedule for its inaugural season on Tuesday. ABC will broadcast the first game and Fox will have games on Saturday and Sunday during the opening weekend.
“It’s a big moment for us,” XFL Commissioner Oliver Luck said. “We’ve got great time slots on the weekends. We think it’s a well-designed schedule in terms of competitive balance.”
The league is the second XFL backed by the WWE’s Vince McMahon. McMahon has invested nearly $400 million in the XFL and has started a separate company, Alpha Entertainment LLC, to operate it. The first version of the XFL — a joint venture of WWE and NBC — lasted just one season (2001).
This is the second consecutive year that a second pro football league will debut. The Alliance of American Football folded after just eight weeks.
The XFL is divided into two four-team divisions, East and West. The XFL East features teams in Washington, New York, St. Louis and Tampa Bay. The XFL West has teams in Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle.
Among the notable names involved in coaching is former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, the head coach and GM of the Dallas Renegades. Kevin Gilbride, who won two Super Bowls as the offensive coordinator for the Giants, is the coach for the New York Guardians. Longtime NFL and college coach June Jones will coach the Houston Roughnecks, while former NFL and CFL coach Marc Trestman is with the Tampa Bay Vipers.
Notable players include former Oklahoma and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Landry Jones by Dallas. Tommylee Lewis, best known for being the intended Saints receiver on the key pass interference play in last season’s NFC title game, is also with Dallas. Cardale Jones, who won a championship with Ohio State in the 2014 season, is on DC and former Jets tight end Jace Amaro is with Seattle.
The XFL announced in May that it had reached agreements with ESPN and Fox Sports. All the games will air on national television with doubleheaders on Saturdays and Sundays. Twenty-four games will air on ABC or Fox. The remainder will air on ESPN, ESPN2, FS1 and FS2.
“If you think about football in this country, I think you’d certainly have to think about ABC and ESPN and FOX with what they do, so I think these are trusted broadcasters, they’ve broadcast literally hundreds of thousands of NFL games, major college games,” Luck said. “So their talent that they’ll assign will be top-notch talent. So we think there’s never been quite honestly a startup league that’s had these kinds of windows, this kind of exposure.”
The regular season will last 10 weeks. Each team will host five home games and play a schedule that features a home-and-home series against division rivals and one game against each team in the other division. The regular season ends on April 12. The division finals will be the following week and the winners will play for the championship on Sunday, April 26 on ESPN.
‘”This a killer schedule with four national games each week,” said Jeffrey Pollack, the XFL’s president and chief operating officer. “Every XFL game will be on national television and presented by media companies that know football inside-out, know how to tell great stories.”
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