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Ex-Hawkeyes reunite with Arlington Renegades
Bob Stoops hires Jonathan Hayes, Chuck Long as part of his XFL staff
ARLINGTON, Texas — The XFL’s Arlington Renegades are headquartered deep in the heart of Texas, but their coaching staff has a distinct Iowa flavor.
That’s thanks to head coach Bob Stoops, plus co-offensive coordinators Jonathan Hayes and Chuck Long, who also serves as quarterbacks coach, all being former Iowa football standouts.
This isn’t the first time Hayes and Long have worked with Stoops. Between 1999 and 2002, Hayes coached tight ends and special teams at Oklahoma while Long was OU’s quarterbacks coach, passing game coordinator and eventually co-offensive coordinator from 2000 to 2005.
“They’re just great people, great individuals, fathers, husbands, and successful guys that have had a ton of success throughout their lives,” Stoops said. “I’m not going to be around the wrong type of people. I love being around Jonathan and Chuck every day. It’s fantastic. We’re looking forward to having a lot of success here.”
In 2020, Hayes, a Hawkeye between 1982 and ’84, was head coach and general manager for the XFL’s St. Louis Battlehawks and Long, an Iowa standout from 1981 through ’85, was his offensive coordinator.
Their friendship began at Iowa, where they were not only teammates but roommates while playing under legendary Hawkeye head coach Hayden Fry.
“Working with Chuck’s like working with my brother. We know each other so well, have a great understanding and comfort level,” Hayes said. “I really enjoy working with the guy. He’s bright, got a ton of knowledge. Just creating this offense along with all our other coaches has been a lot of fun.”
Long is equally excited about being reunited with his close friend and coaching colleague.
“Well, a big part of this business, like any business, is trust, who you trust working with and who you’re comfortable working with. We’re best friends,” Long said.
“From a personality standpoint, we really got to know each other and how we are. We’ve always been very loyal to each other. We were part of a staff (at Oklahoma) that won a national championship and had a lot of winning football there. You want to bring guys along and bring guys with you that you’ve had success with because that’s just human nature, right?”
Of course, the opportunity to again work with Stoops, who gave Hayes his first opportunity in coaching and has been an immensely positive influence throughout Long’s coaching career, makes the three of them working together again in Arlington a dream situation.
“I just really like it, love it I should say. We’ve got a prior working relationship. I know how he operates. He knows how I operate,” Long said. “The great thing about Bob is he lets everybody do their job. He’s not that micromanager wanting to know (everything).
“He has a lot of trust and faith in his staff. He knew how I was way back in the Oklahoma days, and he always remembered that. He hired me and I’m glad to be here.”
Hayes concurs that the opportunity to work for Stoops, someone adept at not only putting his players in great positions to succeed but also doing the same for his coaches, was just too good to pass up.
“Bob’s the best. He allows you to come work, express yourself, be the best version of yourself and allows you to challenge yourself,” Hayes said. “We all played together at Iowa. We’ve known each other forever and have a great relationship really with all of us, just a great comfort level.”
But how will having co-offensive coordinators work on game day? Hayes will be the primary offensive play caller during games, but always welcomes input from Long and the rest of the Renegades’ offensive coaches.
“Like all the coaches, Chuck will have input on the headset. You can’t have two guys talking on the headset (during a game). It’s too hard to call a play,” Hayes said. “You can’t have a lot of voices on the headset.
“The other issue with that is the players can also hear because we put transmitters in their helmets, too. We want to keep it as clear as possible.”
Adding further Iowa flavor to the Renegades is tight end Shaun Beyer, a former Cedar Rapids Kennedy prep who was a Hawkeye from 2016 to ’20. Along with defensive back Jack Koerner, who is in camp with San Antonio, he’s one of two ex-Hawkeyes vying for a spot in the XFL.
“Yeah, it’s been great so far,” Beyer said of his time in Arlington. “It’s definitely nice to have that Iowa connection, play for coaches that are legends like those guys, especially in the state of Iowa and for the Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s been fun so far.
“Jack (Koerner) is a good kid. Hopefully get the opportunity to play against him, it’d be fun to meet up with him.”
The Renegades open the 2023 season on Feb. 18 against Las Vegas at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington.
Stephen Hunt is a freelance writer based in Frisco, Texas.