BIRMINGHAM — Protective Stadium will be the home stadium for defending USFL champion Birmingham Stallions and the New Orleans Breakers during the league’s second season.
The Stallions will open the season at home on April 15, 2023, but the opponent has yet to be announced. After hosting all eight teams in 2022, the USFL said in June that they would expand to different markets. Other than Birmingham, no other sites have been announced.
Stallions head coach Skip Holtz and running back Bo Scarbrough were in Birmingham on Monday. They had several media visits, took part in the Monday Morning Quarterback Club meeting and celebrated last season’s championship with the public at Avondale Brewing Company.
“It's great to come back relive it, talk about it, but, at the same time, start talking about the opening game that is set for April 15th,” Holtz said. “Season ticket sales are going on, now it’s time to talk about what are you going to do to repeat. What are you going to do to defend it? We haven’t had a lot of time to enjoy it, now we have to prepare to defend it.”
For Holtz, this has been a late summer and fall like he’s never experienced.
“I’ve been in coaching 35 years, this is my first year in pro ball,” said Holtz, whose father, Lou, was a longtime college coach. “I loved it. I loved having the opportunity to interact with the players, with the way that it was done. There was no academics, it was all ball. It was 100 percent ball. Great young men that we had the opportunity to work with and even more, for me, this was my first fall off in 58 years of growing up around the game, coaching the game, playing the game.”
He hasn’t sat around the house, though.
“This fan stuff is hard, going to all these different games,” Holtz said. “It’s been a breath of fresh air for me. The Birmingham experience was something that I felt I needed, just to have the opportunity to be back in the meeting rooms and have it be about ball and getting into the running back room and the receiving room, being the offensive coordinator, being the head coach and quarterback coach. I probably bit off more than I could chew, but, at the same point in time, it was a breath of fresh air to get back to coaching ball.”
Holtz was a college head coach for 22 seasons, with stops at Connecticut, East Carolina, South Florida and Louisiana Tech. He had a record of 152-21 with conference championships. He’s been mentioned in a few college football job searches, including UAB.
Would he consider heading back into college coaching?
“I don’t know, never say never,” Holtz said. “The good Lord looks after stupid people, so I figure I’m on top of the list. I don’t know what the future holds, you know what I mean, and where it is going. Right now, I’m enjoying the opportunity we have in Birmingham and with the Stallions. I’m looking forward to working with these players. I’m looking forward to putting it together. We’ll kind of cross those bridges as they come. Right now, I’ve really enjoyed this. It’s flattering to have your name mentioned, but, at the same time, I’ve really enjoyed what I’ve done (with the Stallions).”
Right now, he said his focus is figuring out the next step for the Stallions and other USFL teams.
“I asked this question a couple of times, what does the offseason look like?” Holtz said. “What I keep getting is, I don’t know. We’re still the first spring league to go into a second year, outside of the old USFL back in the early 80s. When you look at it, I don’t know what attrition will look like. A lot of that is … being predicated on how many players make an NFL roster. There are still a lot of conversations about how do we do the draft, how do we handle free agency, what’s that overall number going to be, are we going to be able to bring in (players). Right now, it’s a little bit of a moving curve.”
If he has his choice, Holtz said, he will have a familiar roster.
“I know there’s a good amount of players that I’ve talked to, if they’re not involved with a NFL team, would like to come back,” Holtz said. “Right now, everybody has the pride to have the opportunity to defend what we worked so hard to earn a year ago. I’m hoping it’s very little attrition. I’d love to have our whole team back.”
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