Share

Spurrier returns to sideline, wins AAF opener

Share

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The Head Ball Coach is back, lighting up the scoreboard and selling the Alliance of American Football.

And fans — at least those in Orlando, Florida, who showed up in the rain for Steve Spurrier’s debut in the new league Saturday night — are eager to buy.

The 73-year-old coach returned to the sideline for the first time since abruptly walking away from the college game in 2015, bringing along an entertaining style of offense that didn’t disappoint an announced crowd of 20,191 for the AAF opener between the Orlando Apollos and Atlanta Legends.

With a 52-man roster featuring 29 players from nine Florida colleges, there’s a local feel to the Apollos for fans of the hometown team.

It begins with Spurrier, who won the Heisman Trophy as a player at the University of Florida and later put together his best body of work as a coach at his alma mater, a mere 113 miles up the road in Gainesville.

Trending:
Watch: This 83-Second Video Is Absolutely Devastating for Joe Biden's Presidency

And, there was just enough razzle-dazzle and imaginative play-calling in the Apollos’ 40-6 victory over the Legends to remind the faithful, who can buy season tickets for as little as $75, of the good old days.

“I think the fans had a good time,” said Spurrier, who improved to 6-0 in his first game with the six teams he coached. “They saw enough good plays, especially after the first quarter.”

It was a long night for Atlanta, which took the field barely a month after the sudden departure of coach Brad Childress and just days after the team decided ex-NFL quarterback Michael Vick would no longer hold the title of Legends offensive coordinator.

“We’re disappointed,” Legends coach Kevin Coyle said.

“I think Atlanta’s a pretty good team. Time will tell if they are,” Spurrier said. “Time will tell if we’re any good. It’s just one game.”

In the league’s other opener Saturday night, San Antonio topped San Diego 15-6.

On Sunday, Memphis is at Birmingham, and Salt Lake at Arizona.

Two hours before game-time between Orlando and Atlanta, traffic flowed freely and there were few visible signs that the league was about to make its debut at Spectrum Stadium on the campus of UCF, where the Apollos have chosen to play in a more intimate setting than the larger Citrus Bowl near downtown Orlando.

In stark contrast to the thousands who tailgate in a festive atmosphere before UCF games in the fall, only a smattering of fans mingled in a plaza near the 44,000-seat stadium on a cloudy and windy evening.

Related:
Florida Court Awards Temporary Win to Workers Being Forced by Their Employers to Obtain the COVID Vaccine

Rain sent some early arrivals scurrying for cover in concession areas beneath the stands and intermittent showers fell most of the night, contributing to some slipping and sliding and occasional sloppy play.

The weather even forced Spurrier to don a baseball cap instead of his signature visor.

“I think the rain deterred the crowd a little bit,” the coach said. “But 20,000 is pretty good.”

This isn’t the first time Spurrier has been part of a new league. His first head coaching job was a three-year stint in the mid-1980s with the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits.

He led Florida to a national championship in 1996, left the Gators five years later to coach the Washington Redskins for two seasons, then ended a long college career when he walked away from a decade-long stay at South Carolina six games into the 2015 season.

He smiled when he was asked about being unbeaten in his first game with six different teams.

“Even won with the Redskins,” he said, laughing. “That’s not easy to do.”

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation