The Houston Outlaws are currently going through some major rebuilds. Fans lament as their favorite players part ways with the Outlaws. But one familiar face still remains and has been promoted to General Manager. The Houston Outlaws announced via Twitter this week the Matt Iorio would be stepping into the shoes of General Manager. We had a chance to speak to him about his role within the team, the current roster situation, and their plans for 2021. Full disclosure, both CheckpointXP and the Houston Outlaws are owned by the same parent company, the Beasley Media Group.
Interview with Houston Outlaws GM, Matt Iorio
This interview has been edited for clarity.
I’m Robbie Landis from CheckpointXP and I’m joined today by Matt Iorio. Otherwise known as Cool Matt, the new general manager of the Houston Outlaws. Matt, thank you so much for joining me.
Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
As the new general manager and for those out there who wonder what a general manager does exactly, what are some of your day to day responsibilities? What are some of the plans that you hope to enact for the 2020 season?
I think it kind of changes depending on which team you’re looking at. The general manager position, it can be a little vague. But for me, I’m focused on roster stuff right now. So that means talking with players, negotiations, contracts, really building out a vision for what we want our team to look like next year, and the type of player that we want to be a part of it. Now what we’re hoping to build is a winning team next year. I think that we’re taking the right steps there. And I think fans, as the pieces start to fall together with our roster, they’re going to understand that we’re taking this very seriously. A lot of people might think that we’re making cutbacks and this is the end. It’s obviously the end of one part of the Outlaws. But we’re all in this and we’re in it to win it. We’re fully committed. And our goal is to make the best team we can make. So we’re full steam ahead, honestly, we’re really excited about next year.
Well, let’s go and talk about the roster the Outlaws are currently fielding. So far we know that Hydration is still under contract. Danteh, while a free agent has said his future could still be with the Outlaws. But everyone else seems to be hitting free agency. So what can you tell us about the current roster situation?
Yeah. So for this year, we are doing a rebuild. There is no secret there. We have informed all the players of their statuses. And we chose not to extend any of their contracts. But we are still open to discussion with certain players about bringing them back next year. Just kind of trying to figure out how that looks. But next year for us is really our opportunity to fulfill the vision that we have for the team. We kind of came into this year with a system in place already and we weren’t really able to enact our will, so to speak, on how we think things should be running. So this year for us is really our chance to forge our own destiny and prove that we can turn this into something really successful. I think we’ve always been known as a popular team and that’s really great. We’re top of the class in terms of doing content and fan engagement. We’ve had our ups and downs, but we’ve never been known for being a really strong team. And we think that we have the ingredients here, ready to maintain that popularity, to build our brand and push and amplify players. We also think we can do that while we’re winning. So we want to maintain that level of fan engagement and popularity. But we also want to win at the same time. And we think that we are taking the right steps to make that happen.
So November 23rd is the date that the Outlaws must have at least seven players signed to the rosters. Now, you guys have just picked up Junkbuck as a co-head coach with Harsha. So what does the rest of November look like in regards to helping fill out these positions?
So for us, we’re in the process of evaluating new players. We are giving open tryouts. We have a ton of applicants there that are really excited about it. So we’ll be evaluating new players, negotiating contracts, and finding the people that fit in best with what we’re trying to build. Finding players that really respect our vision and what we think is necessary to make a winning team.
Now, it’s been a little bit of a bumpy ride for the Outlaws these past two seasons, especially without having a proper parent organization through most of 2019. What are some of the changes that you’re looking to implement in the first full year under the Beasley Media Group?
Well, the Outlaws traditionally have been a popular brand. So we’re trying to maintain the same level of fan engagement and quality of content. The kind of popularity and the stuff that the Outlaws are known for already and the things that the fans love. We still want to do all that. But we want to do that on a team that’s going to be performing at the highest level. We’re looking to be contenders and to be winning these tournaments midseason. We’re looking to make a deep playoff run and win the whole thing. So we’re dreaming really big in order to make that happen. We’re looking for the right group of players that are going to be on the same page from the beginning. They’re going to understand that they have certain obligations to fulfill. We’re going to be having more of a strict structure in terms of requirements for professionalism and what we expect from players. And we want players that are going to really buy into this vision from the start. Players that are naturally talented and gifted mechanically, but also have a really strong sense of teamwork and camaraderie. No player is greater than the whole team. We want players that are going to fit into our vision. And we want to build the best structure that we can to support that. And bringing Junkbuck in, I think is going to help us there a lot. This is someone that understands what it means to be on a winning team. And so this is someone that knows the structure that needs to be in place. And really, a lot of what he’s saying and a lot of the things that he thinks we need to be doing are things that we’re on the same page with here already. So it’s been great working with him because we’re already aligned in so many ways. So I think that we’re on the right track and just having him on board to reinforce that just makes us even more confident in our vision.
Well, speaking of Junkbuck, the co-position that he and Harsha are now sharing is an interesting new dynamic. Since Junkbuck hasn’t been with you that long how do you see that dynamic working between him and Harsha?
Junkbuck and Harsha have a lot of history together. They’ve been on a lot of teams together. They know how one another works and I think they complement each other well. So they already know how they work and they’re going to be able to really leverage that dynamic that they already have to make the team run smoothly. They understand what each one is going to be doing on the team, they’re going to have that foundation ready to build off of. So I think that this is our dynamic duo that we’re looking at to lead our team to something great next year.
There are a lot of fans out there that aren’t happy to see some of the players that are leaving the Outlaws. As one of the original Outlaws from the inaugural season and now as general manager, what would you say to the fans that feel like their team is gone?
I understand the fan perspective here more than anybody. These are people that I’ve been playing with for such a long time that I consider some of my closest friends. And we’ve gone through a lot together. So having seen them go, it’s harder on me than it was going to be for the fans. But I mean, we’re not going to squander their legacy and what we’ve built together. We still want to deliver the best performance for our fans. I think that even though they’re gone, we’re going to carry on their spirit in a sense. And people are still going to love us for what we’re known for. And people are still going to fall in love with our roster.
Matt, thank you so much for giving me some of your time today. I appreciate it and will be looking forward to seeing what the Outlaws can do in 2021.
Oh, thank you so much for having me. And I’m so happy to really be able to talk about next year a little bit. We’re really excited about what we can do and the future of the Houston Outlaws. And I think that the fans are really excited, too. As the pieces fall together and they understand that we’re serious about this and we have a real vision and plan in mind to make it a success.