2 USFL teams change head coaches as 2023 season looms

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Two United States Football League teams made changes to their coaching staffs with the start of the 2023 season about two months away.

The Michigan Panthers hired Mike Nolan back on Feb. 3 to replace Jeff Fisher. On Wednesday, the Houston Gamblers hired Curtis Johnson to replace Kevin Sumlin. The former Texas A&M head coach ended up taking an assistant role at Maryland.

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49ers head coach Mike Nolan on the sidelines as the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 17 to 10 at Monster Park, San Francisco, California, December 4, 2005.

49ers head coach Mike Nolan on the sidelines as the Arizona Cardinals defeated the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 17 to 10 at Monster Park, San Francisco, California, December 4, 2005. (Robert B. Stanton/NFLPhotoLibrary.)

Nolan was the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 2005 to 2008 and was 18-37 in that span. He never had a winning record. The 49ers drafted Alex Smith over Aaron Rodgers during his tenure. He served in various other coaching positions around the NFL after the 49ers fired him in the middle of the 2008 season. He was last the Dallas Cowboys’ defensive coordinator in 2020.

“I am very excited to join the USFL and the Michigan Panthers. Playing great football and competing at a high level is what the Panthers are going to be about,” Nolan said in a news release. “It will take a loud and rabid fanbase to help us get there. I’ve experienced the passionate fans of Michigan and Detroit while coaching against the Lions, and I was always impressed. Our goal with the Panthers is to play with energy and pride for the entire state we represent. I want our fans to be proud to root for the Panthers.”

2 USFL TEAMS TO PLAY REGULAR-SEASON GAMES NEAR PRO FOOTBALL HALL OF FAME

Head coach Curtis Johnson of the Tulane Greenwave at Yulman Stadium on October 3, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Head coach Curtis Johnson of the Tulane Greenwave at Yulman Stadium on October 3, 2015, in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Benjamin Solomon/Getty Images)

Fisher stepped down due to personal reasons.

Johnson’s foray into the United States Football League after having coached Tulane from 2013 to 2015. He was 13-24 with the Green Wave in that span. Tulane was 7-6 in his first season in 2013 but lost in the New Orleans Bowl. Johnson was an assistant coach on the New Orleans Saints when they captured their first Super Bowl title over the Indianapolis Colts.

“This is a tremendous opportunity to serve Houston, their fans, and our players. I want to make the city of Houston proud about our team and the USFL,” Johnson said in a separate news release. “As a former wide receivers coach, I’m going to bring a brand of football that is exciting and fast by airing it out while also running the ball. On defense, the Gamblers will always be focused on being physical and creating turnovers. I’m excited to get to work building a winner for Houston football fans.”

The Panthers finished 2-8 last season and the Gamblers were 3-7. 

The USFL logo is seen on a football during warm-ups before the game between the New Orleans Breakers and the Michigan Panthers at Protective Stadium on May 28, 2022, in Birmingham, Alabama.

The USFL logo is seen on a football during warm-ups before the game between the New Orleans Breakers and the Michigan Panthers at Protective Stadium on May 28, 2022, in Birmingham, Alabama. (Patrick Smith/USFL/Getty Images)

Both teams are set to play in different facilities in 2023. Michigan will play Ford Field with the Philadelphia Stars, and the Gamblers will play at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium with the Memphis Showboats.

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The two teams meet in Week 1 on April 16 at noon ET.

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