By Eric Williams
FOX Sports Football Reporter
Making the transition from the Tampa Bay Bandits to the Bluff City, head coach Todd Haley takes over for the return of the Memphis Showboats.
The Showboats will play two of their first three games in Memphis, including their season opener on April 15 against the Philadelphia Stars.
"The biggest thing is just being in Memphis and getting to have actual home games, "Haley said. "I went down there for the unveiling of the new uniforms and the team. And (FedEX Founder) Fred Smith being there was really neat. Everyone is really excited.
"Everything being in Birmingham last year, you got excited when you played the Birmingham Stallions because you knew there would be a lot of fans there. But they were rooting for the other team (laughs). So, to be in Memphis and the Liberty Bowl, with the excitement that I’m feeling from everybody, I’m just excited to be able to play a bunch of games in the Liberty Bowl with fans supporting us."
Haley maintained continuity on his coaching staff, with former NFL safety Carnell Lake moving from secondary coach to defensive coordinator, along with Bog Saunders as the offensive coordinator and Frank Gansz Jr. staying on as the tight end and special teams coach.
The Showboats' new general manager is Dave Razzano, a former scout for the Arizona Cardinals whom Haley worked with during his time as a coach with the team.
"I feel confident in Dave," Haley said. "He just came out of the league. He has a real understanding of some of these college guys, and guys that have been on the cusp of the NFL but maybe have not made it where they want to be."
Haley does not know if the USFL’s leading passer last season in Jordan Ta'amu will return to his team. However, University of Memphis product Brady White will join the Showboats to compete for the starting quarterback job.
"It’s like Brad Pitt coming into town when he walks around," joked Haley about White. "I spent a little time with him when I was in Memphis. Good-looking guy. Everybody loves him there. We’ll have to see how it all plays out, but I feel confident we’ll be in a good position there."
At 4-6 last season, Haley hopes improved roster depth and a change of scenery will result in a shot to make the postseason for the Showboats — along with an opportunity for players to develop.
"The biggest thing I learned is that all of these players are trying to keep their dream alive," Haley said. "And having coached in the NFL for a very long time, there was a great hunger level from the players. And then when you see a (KaVontae) Turpin make it to the Cowboys, I think that’s huge for the league
"They love the game, they love playing. But they want to keep their dream alive. And when you see some guys make it, and make rosters, that’s huge."
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!