If being No. 1 is the primary goal in sports
for coaches and athletes alike, why would someone
pass up the chance to be No. 1?
Before New York/New Jersey HITMEN™ offensive
coordinator Ron Calcagni joined the XFL, he
was a member of the coaching staff at the University
of Oklahoma. On January 3, 2001, the same OU
football team for which Calcagni toiled earlier
this fall as an offensive and defensive assistant
will take on Florida State University in the
Orange Bowl with the national championship at
So why did Calcagni, who served as a major assistant
coach on the Division I-A level for more than
16 years, bolt an established, top-ranked program
for an upstart football league?
The answer is opportunity.
“Although I enjoyed my time with the University
of Oklahoma, the opportunity to coach in the
XFL was something that I could not pass up,”
Calcagni said. “The HITMEN provided me with
the chance to become an offensive coordinator
and bring an exciting, wide-open brand of football
to the fans in the tri-state area.
“The way I see it,” Calcagni continued, “I’m
going from one first-class organization to another.”
In addition to his responsibilities directing
the HITMEN offensive attack, Calcagni will also
oversee the development of quarterbacks Charles
Puleri, Wally Richardson, Kevin Mason and Corte
McGuffey. The former University of Arkansas
signal caller (1976-1979) has a history of grooming
passers, having coached former Heisman Trophy
winner Andre Ware and Davey O’Brien Award winner
David Klingler, among others.
OU has maintained close ties with its erstwhile
coach, inviting Calcagni and his family to the
Orange Bowl to watch his former players compete
for the college football crown. Although the
HITMEN will begin training camp on Jan. 2, it’s
only a two-hour drive from Orlando, Fla., where
the HITMEN will practice, to Miami, site of
the national championship game.
“The Sooners were rebuilding and everything
came together for them this season,” Calcagni
said. “With the HITMEN, I have a chance to be
a part of something from the ground floor and
have an impact on our offensive fortunes. I
didn’t give anything up in making the jump to
the XFL - as I said before, it’s a tremendous
Several players were already dreaming of the
balmy conditions in Orlando for next month’s
During a break in practice, defensive end Tim
Beauchamp, who played his collegiate football
at the University of Florida, gave the weather
report for the Sunshine State.
“At home (in Florida), the temperature is 80
degrees,” he said.
Mammoth defensive tackle Christian Maumalanga,
no stranger to warm climates, poignantly agreed.
“If we were in Florida right now, I’d walk around
in a helmet and jock strap - nothing else,”
OK Christian. Just save it for the runway.
During passing drills, HITMEN Vice President
and General Manager Drew Pearson got into the
action once again. After watching tight end
Ryan Collins, who wears jersey No. 88, drop
a pass, Pearson gave him an earful.
“C’mon 88, you have to catch everything if you
wear that number,” said the former Cowboy star,
who donned jersey No. 88 during his playing
Special teams coach Paul Butcher, who threw
the quick out route to the tight end, admitted
that he threw a bad pass. “It hit him in the
back,” Butcher said.
“You still have to catch it if you’re wearing
No. 88,” Pearson shot back.
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