ODESSA, Texas (KMID/KPEJ) – The Desert Hawks arena football team (formerly known as the West Texas Warbirds) has parted ways with its only head coach in franchise history, Tate Smith. Smith led the Warbirds to back-to-back undefeated seasons and league championships in the team’s first two seasons.

2023 did not bring the same good fortune for the franchise. The Warbirds, who joined the National Arena League, went 3-11, finishing last among teams that played a full season (the Albany Empire’s season was suspended early).

“Sometimes you must look towards the future, try to evaluate things in as unemotional a path as possible and process as possible and arrive at a decision that might make you uncomfortable,” team owner Zack Bugg said in a statement.

Smith’s firing comes as the entire franchise is undergoing a major rebrand. The team announced it would no longer compete in the National Arena League and had joined a reincarnated Arena Football League (AFL). It was at this time that the team also changed its name to the West Texas Desert Hawks.

Few details have been released about the AFL’s comeback season, however, the league’s website says the first game is 151 days away (March 2).

No details were given on the search for a new head coach.