In professional football, getting a second chance to make a first impression is rare. During the 2023 XFL season, the San Antonio Brahmas played their inaugural season in a city hungry for professional football. The result of the Brahmas first season was a 3-7 record, and they failed to qualify for a spot in the playoffs.

While the Brahmas failed to rise to the top of the XFL during their first season, they did demonstrate that they have what is needed to be a successful franchise in the spring of professional football. The City of San Antonio and the Brahmas fan base displayed a passion for the XFL’s brand of football, and the Alamodome is a stadium well-suited for professional football. Those factors allowed the San Antonio Brahmas to pick up their most significant victory, which was being selected as a team to continue playing after the XFL-USFL merger, leading to the creation of the UFL.

Before officially being named as a franchise in the UFL, the Brahmas were already making moves to give themselves a chance to take advantage of the opportunity they expected to have in the UFL. The most notable of those moves resulted in Hines Ward, the Brahma’s first head coach, stepping down from his position and the San Antonio franchise naming former Houston Roughnecks head coach Wade Phillips as the second head coach in franchise history and having Hines Ward as their first head coach and Wade Phillips as their next head coach set the Brahmas up for a big season in the first year of the UFL.

Rallying The City Of San Antonio To Support The Brahmas

Naming Hines Ward as the first head coach of the San Antonio Brahmas was an exciting hire despite Ward’s limited experience as a professional football coach. Ward is best known as an elite defensive back for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1997 until 2011. As a coach, Ward was an Offensive Intern for the Steelers in 2017, an Offensive Assistant for the New York Jets in 2019 and 2020, Head of Football Development for the Alliance of American Football in 2019, and a Wide Receiver coach for Florida Atlantic in 2021 before becoming the first head coach of the Brahmas in 2023.

While Ward brought a limited amount of coaching experience and no head coaching experience, he was a recognizable face that casual fans of professional football could recognize. Ward’s ability to generate excitement for his team drives the Brahmas franchise to continue as a spring football franchise. Under Ward, the Brahmas struggled to produce points on offense and played solid defense, but regardless of the changes related to the UFL, the Brahmas were going to need to find ways to generate more offense in 2024.

Adding An Established Force From Houston

Adding the former Houston Roughnecks head coach Wade Phillips to the Brahmas as their new head coach is a significant improvement for the San Antonio franchise. During the 2023 season, Phillips led the Houston Roughnecks to a 7-3 record and, with offensive coordinator AJ Smith, helped Houston have the second-highest-scoring offense in the XFL. When Phillips was named head coach for the Brahmas, they also added AJ Smith to continue as the offensive coordinator for the NFL veteran head coach.

The combination of Phillips as the head coach and Smith as the offensive coordinator is potent due to how well each coach compliments the other. Wade Phillips, son of NFL Legend Bum Phillips, brings a wealth of NFL coaching experience while working primarily to build some of the best defensive units in the history of the NFL. Phillips’s experience in the NFL includes coordinating the defense for a Super Bowl victory with the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.

Phillips brings a wealth of NFL head coaching experience to the Brahmas and has a reputation for building elite defensive units. AJ Smith is a coach who embodies the purpose of the UFL: to provide opportunities to those who have taken a non-traditional path to professional football. Since being the Wide Receiver coach for the Roughnecks in 2020, he helped Ridgeland Academy in Mississippi win a state championship, led an explosive offense at Tyler Junior College, and helped the Roughnecks have one of the best offensive units in the XFL in 2023.

There are many reasons for the fans of the San Antonio Brahmas to be excited for the first season of UFL football in 2024. Among those reasons is the realistic opportunity that the Brahmas have to go from being 3-7 in 2023 to becoming one of the top teams in the UFL in 2024. 2024, and the UFL gives the Brahmas a second chance to make a first impression in spring professional football.

Follow me on X: @AaronSauter7

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Aaron Sauter
Aaron Sauter is a 23-veteran high school football coach that is also an fan of all levels of football. He is especially interested in alternative football leagues like the CFL, UFL, and IFL. Aaron enjoys analyzing innovative schemes on offense and defense during his free time.

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