First city and coach revealed for new pro football league
The “Head Ball Coach” is returning to the sidelines.
Steve Spurrier is the latest big name to join the Alliance of American Football, a professional football league that’s being run by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol.
The 1966 Heisman Trophy winner and member of the College Football Hall of Fame will be coaching the AAF’s franchise in Orlando, Florida. The league has not revealed what the team’s name will be.
In a statement released by the AAF, Spurrier cited the opportunity to work with Ebersol and former longtime NFL executive Bill Polian.
“What first captured my attention was Charlie and Bill’s commitment to putting top-flight, professional football on the field and creating a true alliance between fans, players and the game,” Spurrier said, according to ESPN. “The Alliance offers a unique opportunity to get back into coaching, this time for a spring season, and work closely with hungry, talented athletes looking to begin, revive or extend their professional careers.”
“The fact I can do this in Orlando makes it that much sweeter. I’m fired up and ready to go,” he added.
Spurrier led his alma mater, the University of Florida, to a national title in 1997. He wrapped up his college coaching career with the University of South Carolina, leaving in the middle of the 2015 season.
Spurrier’s latest move will actually mark his third foray into professional football.
After 3 years as the offensive coordinator at Duke, he joined the upstart United States Football League to coach the Tampa Bay Bandits, starting in 1983.
When the USFL folded, he returned to Durham, this time as Duke’s head coach.
Spurrier really made his mark when he returned to Gainesville. He spent 12 years as the Gators’ head coach but left following the 2001 season for a chance to coach the Washington Redskins.
A 12-20 record over two seasons in Washington sent him back to the college ranks.
Upon his retirement from coaching, Spurrier has kept a relatively low profile, though he did show up at South Carolina’s spring game late last month and even tried to catch a deep pass.
Orlando’s franchise is the first team to be unveiled by the AAF, with more to come this week.
In a statement, Ebersol outlined what the league is looking for in potential cities and coaches.
“When reviewing markets for The Alliance, we focused on cities who were looking for more football,” Ebersol said. “Orlando has already proven to be a passionate, loyal and engaged fan base that loves the game, yet they don’t have a professional football team to call their own.
He also explained why Spurrier was chosen to lead Orlando’s team.
“Well, we’re not just bringing professional football to town, we’re bringing the Head Ball Coach with us, a true Florida legend,” Ebersol said.
As for Spurrier’s motivation, he told “CBS This Morning” on Saturday that he likes the pace-of-play rules — 30 seconds between plays. But that’s not all.
“This is a chance to get a bunch of guys to coach, compete and try to win the championship. Heck, there’s going to be a winner in April, and whoever does is going to do some celebrating,” he said.
What was it that drew you back into football? ?
"The new rules I really liked. Two and a half hour games, 30 seconds in between plays and the fans want to see that… In life, we all need a challenge." — @SteveSpurrierUF https://t.co/ifaKuSs0Ix pic.twitter.com/67XYgV0h8h
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) April 7, 2018
Notable names who are set to be involved in the AAF’s front office include former Pittsburgh Steelers greats Troy Polamalu and Hines Ward, as well as retired defensive end Justin Tuck, who won a Super Bowl with the New York Giants.
The league’s 10-game season will feature eight franchises, and is scheduled to kick off Feb. 9, 2019, the week after the Super Bowl.
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