By Eric Williams
FOX Sports Football Reporter
Of the things that attracted Ray Horton to the head coaching job of the Pittsburgh Maulers, joining his son Jarren Horton, who is the team's defensive coordinator, was near the top of the list.
"The opportunity presented itself, and I thought what a great way to potentially start a legacy," Horton said. "I told Daryl Johnston when he was talking with me, some guys get an opportunity like the Belichicks, the Shanahans, the Grudens. And I’m so grateful the USFL and FOX have offered me an opportunity to do what those names have done."
Horton said he coached with his son once before while both were on the Cleveland Browns' staff. But with his first season in the USFL and his son having already coached here, Horton said he’ll be leaning on his son more this year.
"It will be a collaboration of minds putting stuff together, just as much as I can," Horton said. "He’s probably more qualified than I am because he has more experience with this and the players, the game and rules and how we do things. So how much will I be leaning on him? It will be like I’m Ray Charles and he’s guiding me around (laughs)."
A longtime defensive coordinator in the NFL who also won a Super Bowl as a defensive back with the 1992 Dallas Cowboys, Horton spent seven years as the secondary coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Horton said he looks forward to the Maulers playing their home games at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Horton, a licensed airplane pilot, compared Canton to another place close to his heart, Kitty Hawk, home of the Wrights Brothers Memorial Park.
"That’s cool to have that as our backyard," Horton said. "I’m a pilot, so to me, that would be like going down to Kitty Hawk, and having our place at Kitty Hawk. How chilling, cool and appropriate is that?"
Pittsburgh finished a league-worst 1-9 last season, so there’s no place to go but up for the Maulers.
"We want to get a bunch of like-minded men that are willing to sacrifice for a common, better goal," Horton said. "That’s a simple as I can put it. We’re playing football. But it still takes sacrifice. It takes a commitment to be willing to do something that you probably don’t want to do. I don’t want to block. I want to catch the ball. I don’t want to take up two blocks so he can make the tackle. But sometimes you sacrifice for the good of the team, and if we can all go and grow in the same direction, we can get there."
As far as the type of athletes he’s looking to put on the field, here’s what Horton had to say:
"A simple descriptor of what I want is I want big guys that can run, and little guys that can hit," Horton said. "If you can give me that combination, and obviously they have to be smart enough to figure it out. And one of my sayings is, everything is simple if you understand it. So, if you can give me guys that can run, that solves a lot of problems. And little guys that hit, that solves all your problems."
Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.
More on the USFL schedule release from FOX Sports:
- The full week-by-week 2023 USFL schedule
- Michigan Panthers schedule | Interview with coach Mike Nolan
- Pittsburgh Maulers schedule | Interview with coach Ray Horton
- Birmingham Stallions schedule | Interview with coach Skip Holtz
- New Jersey Generals schedule | Interview with coach Mike Riley
- Memphis Showboards schedule | Interview with coach Todd Haley
- Philadelphia Stars schedule | Interview with coach Bart Andrus
- New Orleans Breakers schedule | Interview with coach John DeFilippo
- Houston Gamblers schedule
- A conversation with USFL VP of Operations Daryl Johnston
- 2023 USFL schedule: Best early games, title odds and more!