It’s been a little more than a year since Kevin Sumlin last took the field as a head coach, as the former SEC Coach of the Year was let go by Arizona following a blowout loss to rival Arizona State near the end of the 2020 season. He could only stay away for so long. Sumlin is set to return to the sideline soon — just not how you may think.
Sumlin was one of four coaches announced to be joining the relaunched United States Football League (USFL) on Thursday. He was revealed as the head coach of the Houston Gamblers of the South Division on FS1’s “The Herd” exactly 100 days before the league is set to kick off.
It’s a return to the Lone Star State for Sumlin, who made a name for himself as the head coach at Houston in the late aughts before taking over at Texas A&M, where he coached for six seasons. He compiled a 51-26 record with the Aggies, including a 2012 campaign in which they went 11-2 and won the Cotton Bowl behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Johnny Manziel in the program’s first year in the SEC.
Joining Sumlin in the South Division is former NFL head coach and coordinator Todd Haley, who will lead the Tampa Bay Bandits. Haley was the head coach of the Chiefs for three seasons, going 19-26, before later becoming the offensive coordinator for the Steelers and Browns. He most recently coached at the high school level.
Former Nebraska coach Mike Riley is also coming aboard, as he’s set to steer the New Jersey Generals into battle. Riley coached for more than a decade at Oregon State before jumping to Nebraska, where he logged a 19-19 record before being fired after the 2017 season. He has experience coaching spring football, with both the San Antonio Commanders of the Alliance of American Football (AAF) and the Seattle Dragons of the XFL.
The fourth announced coach was international coaching veteran Bart Andrus, who takes over the Philadelphia Stars. The former head coach of the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, Andrus’ latest stop was at the University of Ottawa in 2021.
Cole Cubelic and Greg McElroy of WJOX 94.5 in Birmingham reported three of the four names earlier in the day and also reported that former Auburn national champion coach Gene Chizik will coach the Birmingham Stallions. McElroy stated that Chizik’s contract has not yet been finalized, but “barring something unexpected, it will be finalized soon.”
The USFL is set to begin on April 16, with the eight total teams playing a 10-game schedule.