Az-Zahir Hakim

A familiar name will guide the St. Louis XFL squad’s wide receiving corps – former St. Louis Rams standout Az-Zahir Hakim.

A member of the “Greatest Show on Turf” Rams that won the Super Bowl following the spectacular 1999 season, Hakim was drafted in the fourth round of the 1998 NFL draft.

In four seasons with the Rams, Hakim caught 148 passes, totaled 2,032 yards and registered 16 touchdowns. An All-Pro return specialist, Hakim also returned two punts for touchdowns.

Hakim was the wide receivers coach for the San Diego Fleet of the American Alliance of Football before the league tanked after just a month of operation.

Heading the offense for head coach Jonathan Hayes will be offensive coordinator Doug Meacham – a guy who was fired midway through the 2019 season at KU, which had one of the worst offenses in college football history.

Let me defend my former Jayhawk. Former KU head coach David Beaty, who was fired a few weeks after Meacham but allowed to finish the season, had dreams of running a wild run-and-gun spread offense. The team never had the skilled talent to pull that off and the offensive line made every play a dangerous adventure for any of the three quarterbacks who played last season.

Meacham isn’t incompetent. He just chose the wrong job at the wrong time under the wrong guy, who was probably worst head coach in America.

Before the KU debacle, Meacham served at Samford, Oklahoma State, Houston, and TCU – all of which had high-powered offenses.

Other coaching hires include:

Jay Hayes – defensive coordinator, was defensive line coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Brian Braswell – offensive live, was Cleveland Browns offensive quality control director.

Nicholas Siciliano – tight ends, directed football quality control at the University of Minnesota. He was an offensive assistant for the Cincinnati Bengals from 2012 to 2013.

Matt Raich – co-defensive coordinator/linebackers, was assistant defensive line coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. He also worked for the Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Tim Lewis - defensive backs, was head coach of the AAF Birmingham Iron. He has worked for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Atlanta Falcons, and San Francisco 49ers.

XFL showtime is Saturday

Football officially returns to St. Louis on Saturday (July 13) when the XFL holds its Summer Showcase at Lou Fusz Training Facility in Earth City. Yep, it’s the former Rams Park that Stan Kroenke can buy for a buck in a few years.

The showcase is invitation-only and offers players a chance to audition for spots on respective XFL rosters. The St. Louis Showcase is the XFL’s last of the summer, with each being held in the city of an XFL franchise.

The league is interested in former NFL players (or ones not under contract), alternate football league players or players who have recently completed their college eligibility.

Patterned after the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, players will have their height, weight and measurements taken. Athletic testing, including the 40-yard-dash and shuttle drills, will be included. Individual positional workouts and 1-on-1 drills, led by XFL coaches, are also part of the Showcase.

Private workouts with XFL coaches, as needed, could also be part of a player’s day.

College players must apply and be approved by the XFL to attend. An application is at XFL.com.

Martin not color blind

Missouri’s football program is awaiting word from a NCAA penalty review committee if its one-season bowl ban, restricted recruiting edict and other punishment in connection with the case of the tattling tutor will be reduced.

Meanwhile, its basketball program under the guidance of head coach Cuonzo Martin is not linked to the ongoing college basketball recruiting scandals. Big-name programs with big-name coaches are smack in the middle of the shenanigans, Missouri is clean.

But Martin has views on the situation, and he has not missed that all the shoe company representatives and assistant coaches destined for prison after being found guilty or pleading their guilt are black.

Kansas coach Bill Self, Auburn coach Bruce Pearl, Sean Miller of Arizona, Mark Gottfried, the current coach of Cal State Northridge and former coach of tainted North Carolina State, Hall of Fame former coach Rick Pitino of Louisville, Andy Enfield of USC and Will Wade of LSU have all had their names directly connected to respective recruiting no-nos.

Pitino was shown the door, but he was already on the thinnest of thin ice. Wade was suspended but has been reinstated. The athletic director that took action against Wade, after he was caught on a wiretap sounding very suspicious, has retired.

All the coaches are white. Martin recognizes that fact.

“You want the right thing to be done,” Martin said during an interview last month in Columbia.

“That’s the most important thing. Rules are being broken and those universities should be accountable for their actions. Not to make it sound black and white, but it appears to me that when you have four coaches with the FBI, but the head coach is still OK, and not to say that I know everything that’s going on, but I just think there has to be a level of accountability.”

Martin said the accountability for recruiting cheats should not stop at the head coaches office.

“I think for me, the presidents of those schools or the athletic directors, something has to give at some point,” he said.

“Because you made the hire.”

It’s not the losses or fear of losing a job that drives coaches to go astray, according to Martin.

“I think that guys do things the right way, that’s who you are,” he said.

“I don’t think guys that lose a few games, you try and do this now. That doesn’t happen. That’s who you are as a person.”

Martin was clear that he won’t go down the cheating path to save his job.

“When they let me go, it will because ‘he didn’t win enough,’” Martin said.

“It won’t be because of that (illegal recruiting) stuff.”

Should Martin not qualify for the NCAA Tournament this season, the “he doesn’t win enough” will begin growing louder.

The Reid Roundup

First it was college and now its bad luck in the NBA for former Mizzou Tiger Michael Porter Jr. Two days before the NBA Summer League games began, Porter suffered a knee sprain in practice and is not competing with the Denver Nuggets Summer League squad. He is expected to be ready for training camp come late September… The Nuggets are rumored to be one of the team’s interested in acquiring Russell Westbrook from Oklahoma City… Even with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George,I don’t think the L.A. Clippers will reach the NBA Finals. They are still the Clippers… Good luck with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, Brooklyn. You’ve got two great players and two even greater divas… Congrats to the USWNST. My gosh, they play, talk, and celebrate like black NBA and NFL players… Jimmie Walker,who played J.J. Evans on Good Times, said last week that rich black athletes should not be political. “I think that when you’re making $150 million a year, people don’t want to hear your political views.” Do you remember that Good Times producers and CBS killed John Amos’ character, James Evans, after he challenged them about “J.J.” being a black buffoon? Walker obviously is still playing that role.

Alvin A. Reid was honored as the 2017 “Best Sports Columnist – Weeklies” in the Missouri Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest and is a New York Times contributor. He is a panelist on the Nine Network program, Donnybrook, a weekly contributor to “The Charlie Tuna Show” on KFNS and appears monthly on “The Dave Glover Show” on 97.1 Talk.” His Twitter handle is @aareid1.

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