news 3 days ago

XFL coaches 'absolutely shocked' at how much of their play-calling was revealed on TV

Sporting News — (Jordan Heck)

One of the ways the XFL was able to differentiate itself from the NFL was to allow live microphones on the coaches, giving us access to their play-calling decisions live on the air.

On one hand, it's great access for fans of the new football league. It provides an insight into what the coaches are thinking, and it's cool to hear them talk about the play before it happens. On the other hand, it leaves coaches exposed, and it sounds like they weren't quite prepared for it.

D.C. Defenders coach Pep Hamilton coached his team to victory in the XFL's first game, and when he watched a replay of the game the next day, he realized just how much information was made public. He told "The Sports Junkies" on Washington radio station WJFK-FM he had to change things up for the rest of the season.

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"I've been up overnight trying to change some of the calls. I think everybody in D.C. knows by know that 'even' is [running] to the right and 'odd' is to the left. So 3.3 million people know whether we're running to the right or running to the left," Hamilton said earlier this week, referring to the television audience for the game. "We knew that would be a factor, but not until I watched the broadcast late [Sunday] night where I said, 'Oh, man. We got to do something different.'"

Seattle Dragons coach Jim Zorn added, via the Seattle Times, he was "absolutely shocked" when he realized how much audio of him calling plays was shown on the TV broadcast.

“I think it gave a fan a chance to hear and see something they’ve never heard before, but I felt very exposed,” Zorn said. "Information on a football team has to be guarded a little bit, so we just got it right out there. I know it had to be fun for everybody, but not super fun for me to reveal all that stuff. But I was glad I didn't stutter or fumble the play calls."

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Zorn was lightly teased on social media because he could be seen covering his mouth to hide his play while the audio could be heard.

While Hamilton was a little surprised by how much access fans were given, he's still on board with the league putting microphones on the coaches.

"It's part of it," he said. "It's all about the fans. We want to give the viewers access to professional football in a way they've never had."

Dallas Renegades coach Bob Stoops had a similar reaction when asked about the overall access provided to fans.

"I was ready for it," Stoops said during his press conference Sunday. "Hey, I'm in here to do my part, to help the league in any way I can, so that means participating differently than I had before. Yeah, there's people everywhere — locker room, following you around — so, hey, I get it. I enjoyed watching it (Saturday), the little bit I got to see. Hearing the play calls, the interviews. It's great access for people that are interested in it. I think it will just help continue to grow."

It'll be interesting to see moving forward whether the XFL continues to provide as much access with regard to play-calling as it did in Week 1. With a pair of coaches commenting on it publicly, it wouldn't be a surprise if some others expressed concerns privately to those in the league.