BREAKING: Washington will name Dean Cokinos as first head coach
Ted Leonsis has made his first major move as an owner of an Arena Football League franchise. Sources have confirmed to ArenaFan.com that Dean Cokinos will be named the first head coach of the unnamed Washington franchise as soon as Thursday.
Cokinos was serving as the assistant head coach for the Tampa Bay Storm this season, but he was not listed as a coach for the game on Sunday against the Jacksonville Sharks. Benji McDowell, the team's line coach, called the defense and has essentially taken over as the club's defensive coordinator.
Cokinos last coached with the New Orleans VooDoo, leading the team to a 3-14 record before the franchise folded prior to the start of the 2016 season. Prior to that, he was the head coach of the Alabama Hammers of the PIFL. There, he earned Coach of the Year honors and led the Hammers to the 2013 PIFL title.
Cokinos has also served as the head coach of the Alabama Vipers/Georgia Force franchise from 2010-2012. After a 7-9 season with Alabama, the team relocated to Georgia and reassumed the Force moniker. The Force went on to play two seasons under Cokinos. He went 20-16 in those years, leading the team to the postseason in both campaigns.
Known as a tremendous talent evaluator, Cokinos has helped mold some of the biggest stars in the AFL, particularly at the wide receiver position. Maurice Purify, who has since won championships in four straight seasons, started off his career with Cokinos in Georgia. In his rookie campaign, he hauled in 129 passes for 1,650 yards and 46 touchdowns. Roger Jackson, aka "Spiderman," was one of the most electrifying rookie receivers in the AFL last season for the VooDoo, catching 74 passes for 924 yards and 16 TDs. Jackson is now a key cog in the receiving rotation for Jacksonville.
Cokinos is becoming the first coach in quite some time to be given control of a team well before he will actually step foot onto the field. Literally every single coaching hire since the re-launch of the league in 2010 was tasked with taking with starting his job from scratch within months, and in some cases just weeks of the start of the season. Cokinos will be given almost 10 full months to assemble a strategy for the new Washington expansion team in hopes of giving it a real chance to compete for an ArenaBowl title immediately in 2017.