Report: Ex-UM assistant Pep Hamilton lands first HC gig, in the XFL

Tony Paul
The Detroit News
Pep Hamilton

The XFL isn't bringing its game to Michigan.

But a Michigan man appears set to join Vince McMahon's reboot football league.

Pep Hamilton, recently out as Michigan's assistant head coach and passing-game coordinator, is expected to be named the head coach and general manager of the league's Washington, D.C., franchise, according to The Athletic's Bruce Feldman.

As Feldman noted, Hamilton, 44, has a relationship with the XFL's CEO, Oliver Luck, who is the father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Hamilton was on staff at Stanford from 2010-12, first as receivers coach and then as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach) (Luck played there from 2009-11). He then reunited with Luck with the Colts from 2013-15, when Hamilton was offensive coordinator. The Colts made the playoffs two of Hamilton's three seasons.

He then spent the 2016 season with the Cleveland Browns, as assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach, before joining Jim Harbaugh's Michigan staff in 2017.

It was confirmed earlier this week that Hamilton was out at Michigan, and that Ben McDaniels, formerly an offensive analyst, was promoted to quarterbacks coach.

Hamilton, who has never been a head coach at any level (though he was a finalist for the Maryland job that went to Mike Locksley), drew a $1-million annual salary at Michigan. It's unclear what coaches/executives will earn on average in the XFL, which is set to relaunch in 2020 with eight teams, including Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, St. Louis, Seattle and Tampa Bay. It considered Detroit, though Detroit officials didn't make a spirited push for a franchise. The league is scheduled to play from late winter and into the spring, after the conclusion of the NFL's Super Bowl.

Earlier this week, Bob Stoops, the long-time head coach at Oklahoma before retiring after the 2016 season, was announced as the league's first head coach/GM, for the Dallas team.

Washington, which will play at 20,000-seat Audi Field and like the rest of the teams doesn't yet have a nickname, has yet to confirm the Hamilton hiring. Hamilton also has had coaching stops with the Chicago Bears, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, and Howard University, his alma mater.

McMahon, famous for his ownership of World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly World Wrestling Federation), first launched the XFL in 2001, and it was a monumental bust, lasting just one season. McMahon and NBC reportedly each lost $35 million.

McMahon, in the reboot, has promised to dial way back on some of the theatrics (wrestling-like story lines, skimpy-dressed cheerleaders and nicknames on the back of the jerseys were central themes in XFL 1.0), and focus much more on the football. XFL 2.0 will be signing former college and professional football players, there will be a 10-week regular season, and four of the eight teams will make the playoffs.

Another new professional football league, The Alliance of American Football, is debuting Saturday, also with eight teams, and also the heels of the NFL season.

That league was founded by television producer Charlie Ebersol and NFL executive Bill Polian, and has a broadcast partner in CBS. That league has lured such head coaches as former Nebraska coach Mike Riley and Bears legend Mike Singletary, as well as Steve Spurrier and Dennis Erickson.

The new league has caught the attention of NFL executives, with the Lions among the teams acknowledging they'll scout the games.

Twitter: @tonypaul1984