USFL hires Mike Nolan as Michigan Panthers head coach

USFL hires Mike Nolan as Michigan Panthers head coach

Feb 3

The USFL announced on Friday that NFL veteran coach Mike Nolan has been hired as head coach of the Michigan Panthers. He immediately assumes duties from former head coach Jeff Fisher, who is stepping down for personal reasons.

"We are honored to welcome Mike Nolan to the USFL family as the new head coach of the Michigan Panthers," said Daryl Johnston, Executive Vice President of Football Operations. "When Coach Fisher informed us that he needed to step down, we immediately started the challenging process to find another experienced, charismatic leader to replace him while at the same time, creating excitement for Michigan Panthers players and fans as we open our Detroit Hub to start USFL Year 2. Mike was the perfect fit for that role."

Nolan, 63, was head coach of the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-2008, and has held numerous coaching positions for 11 NFL franchises, mostly on defense. 

"I am very excited to join the USFL and the Michigan Panthers," Nolan said. "Playing great football and competing at a high level is what the Panthers are going to be about. It will take a loud and rabid fan base 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."

Nolan followed his father, Dick Nolan, into coaching — the elder Nolan was head coach of the 49ers (1968-75) and the New Orleans Saints (1978-80).

"As the son of a coach, I was blessed to be around the game and football players for all of my life," said Nolan. "I love the game, but more importantly, I love the relationships that are created when competing for a common goal. My staff and I look forward to getting to work and beginning the process to make the Panthers the top team in the USFL."

Nolan replaces Fisher, who stepped down. Fisher spent four decades as a football player and head coach, and is a recognized rules expert who spent years as a member of the NFL Competition Committee.

"I have made the tough decision to step away from coaching in the USFL to spend more time with my family, including our five grand-babies, and enjoying my semi-retirement to the fullest," said Fisher.

USFL officials credit Fisher for helping the league pave a successful path, including last week’s announcement that the Michigan Panthers were returning home this season to play home games in downtown Detroit at Ford Field.

"We are so grateful for Coach Fisher’s contributions, not only to stand up the Michigan Panthers franchise, but also everything he did to position the USFL for long-term success," said Johnston. "Jeff added immediate credibility to our new league. He was a great teacher to his players, to his coaches, and was an invaluable resource for all of us at the league level. He was a tireless promoter of the USFL, and his wisdom and experience were a benefit to everyone in the league. Coach Fisher played a critical role in USFL Year 1 and will always have a special place in the history of our league."

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