Jim Criner was named the
Outlaws inaugural head coach on August 10, 2000, and
quickly proclaimed that no football staff at any level
professional, college or high school would work
harder or smarter than the one he assembled for Las
Vegas first XFL season. Upon his departure from
Scotland for the XFL, the Scottish press remembered
Criner: Typical Jim Criner. A tireless worker, a man
always looking for an edge, a gentleman who gives you
everything he has.
Very few coaches worldwide embrace the task of building
a team from scratch like Coach Criner. After six seasons
as head coach for the Scottish Claymores of the NFL
Europe League, which included one World Bowl title in
1996 and a NFL Europe runner-up finish in 2000, Criner
brings more than 30 years of coaching experience to the
Outlaws. Along with his head coaching duties for Las
Vegas, Coach Criner also directly oversees the offensive
line. Twenty of Criners former Claymores offensive
lineman are on NFL rosters.
He finished his NFL Europe career with a 26-34 record,
impressive considering that he was named head coach of
the Claymores in just five days before the 1995 season,
which he and his players endured with a skeleton
coaching staff and another coachs system. Criners
Claymores rebounded the following year to capture the
World Bowl with a 32-27 victory over the Frankfurt
Galaxy, a campaign following which Criner was named the
1996 World League Coach of the Year.
The dignity with which Criner accepted that bitter 2-8
season and then rebounded one season later with a steely
resolve to bury forever the memory of 1995 was what
endeared him to the Scottish people. So much so that
Criner finished third among nominees for the Scottish
Sports Personality of the Year, a remarkable achievement
for a non-player and a man who had only been in the
country for about 18 months.
Criner began his World League coaching career as an
offensive line coach with Sacramento Surge in 1991,
going on to win the 1992 World Bowl with the club.
Renowned among professional players worldwide as the
consummate teacher, Criners successful coaching
career began in 1963 at Charter Oaks High School in
Sacramento, Calif., where he worked for Jim Hanifan.
Criner quickly advanced to the college level with stints
at the University of Utah (1967), Cal-State Hayward
(1968), the University of California at Berkeley
(1969-71) and Brigham Young University (1972). In 1973,
Criner began a three-year tenure at UCLA where he
coached with Pepper Rogers and former St. Louis Rams
head coach Dick Vermeil.
From 1976 to 1982, Criner was the head coach at Division
I-AA Boise State University in Idaho, leading the
Broncos to four Big Sky Conference titles and advancing
to the NCAA I-AA Championship Game twice before winning
the title in 1980. Criners teams recorded three
consecutive 10-win seasons and his overall record at
Boise State was 59-21-1, a winning percentage of .735.
After establishing Boise State as a regional power,
Criner faced a new challenge as head coach at Iowa State
University in Ames, Iowa, from 1983 to 1986. He helped
the Cyclones become competitive in the Big Eight before
taking a break from coaching for five years.