Michigan Panthers have their first head coach, and it's a pretty big name
The Michigan Panthers, part of the United States Football League reboot, have found their head coach.
Jeff Fisher, who spent more than 20 years as a head coach in the NFL who led the 1999 Tennessee Titans to an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIV, will coach the Panthers in the inaugural 2022 season.
Fisher, 63, was head coach of the Titans franchise (previously the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Oilers) from 1994 through 2010. From 2012 through 2016, he coached the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams. His teams were 173-165-1 during his head-coaching tenure, plus 5-6 in the postseason. Most recently, Fisher was an adviser for the Tennessee State football program.
Previously, he coached on staffs of the Chicago Bears, Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers.
Fisher is the latest notable name to sign on to coach in the USFL, an eight-team league which starts play in April. Among them, Skip Holtz will be head coach of the Birmingham Stallions, Mike Riley the New Jersey Generals and Kevin Sumlin the Houston Gamblers. Bart Andrus will coach the Philadelphia Stars, Todd Haley the Tampa Bay Bandits and Kirby Wilson the Pittsburgh Maulers.
Fisher and Larry Fedora (New Orleans Breakers) were the final coaches to be announced, Thursday.
“Today is another huge day in the evolution and development of the new USFL as we welcome Larry and Jeff to the fold,” Brian Woods, USFL president of football operations, said in a statement.
“We now have eight unbelievably qualified head coaches leading USFL teams. They’re all looking forward to putting together staffs, evaluating talent, and planning the player selection strategies they’ll need to build championship-caliber football teams.
"The anticipation is growing as we reach each major milestone on the road to kick-off in April.”
The USFL is the latest alternative-season football league to give the business model another shot, and hopes to have more success than the XFL reboot or the AAF, each of which lasted just one season. The USFL has one thing going for it: Financial backing. Fox Sports is a co-owner, and NBC has signed on to broadcast a selection of games, as well. The debut game, between the Generals and Stallions, will air Saturday, April 16, on both Fox and NBC, the first live sporting event to air on competing networks since the first Super Bowl.
The inaugural USFL season will feature 10-game schedules for each team, with the games being played in Birmingham, Alabama, at Protective Stadium and Legion Field. The plan is to play in the team locations starting in 2023. Most games will be Saturday and Sunday, with some Friday and Monday games.
It's not clear where the Michigan Panthers will be based once the league shifts to team locations. The 1983 Michigan Panthers, which won the USFL championship, played their games at the since-demolished Pontiac Silverdome. The league, which is not formerly affiliated with the previous installment of the USFL or prior owners, owns the Michigan Panthers franchise, according to multiple trademark filings.