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Orlando, Steve Spurrier Put AAF on the Map

by Fran Stuchbury
April 10, 2018 - Alliance of American Football (AAF)

Saturday the city of Orlando was awarded the first Alliance of American Football franchise, and the league announced the team would be helmed by coaching legend Steve Spurrier. The squad will play at Spectrum Stadium, home of the Central Florida Knights football team, for the 2019 season.

The AAF team won't be the central Florida city's first dalliance with the pro game. Here is a history of professional football teams that have played in Orlando:

  • Orlando Panthers - Continental Football League - played four seasons, from 1966 to 1970. In 1971 the Panthers were part of the Atlantic Coast Football League

  • Florida Blazers - World Football League - played one season in 1974 were coached by Jack Pardee. They advanced the World Bowl Championship before losing to the Birmingham Americans, 22-21. In 1975 the team relocated to San Antonio and became the San Antonio Wings prior to the WFL folding during the 1975 season.

  • Orlando Renegades - United States Football League - went 5-13 in its only season in 1985 after relocating from Washington, DC. Coached by ESPN personality Lee Corso, the Renegades were one of eight teams that planned to play in the fall of 1986 before the USFL's demise.

  • Orlando Predators - Arena Football League - played 25 seasons from 1991 to 2016 and won two ArenaBowl Championships in 1998 and 2000. They folded after the 2016 season.

  • Orlando Thunder - World League of American Football - lasted two seasons in 1991 and 1992. The league went on hiatus after the 1992 season before returning with an all-European lineup two year later. The Thunder was best known for their fluorescent lime green jerseys.

  • Orlando Rage - XFL - went 8-2 in its only season in the XFL in 2001, and lost to the San Francisco Demons 26-25 in the playoff semifinals.

  • Florida Tuskers - United Football League - advanced to the UFL Championship in both of its seasons in 2009 and 2010, losing both games to the Las Vegas Locomotives. In 2011 they moved to Virginia and became the Virginia Destroyers. Their 2010 head coach, Jay Gruden, is now the head coach for the NFL's Washington Redskins.

Spurrier is the public face of the AAF franchise. He has enjoyed a long and successful coaching history.

  • Tampa Bay Bandits - USFL from 1983 till 1985. He went 35-19 over the three seasons of USFL play. His exciting offense was dubbed "Bandit Ball," and featured crazy, unpredictable play-calling.

  • Duke University - 1987-1989. Went 20-13-1 over three seasons. Spurrier was named ACC Head of Coach of the Year after the 1988 and 1989 seasons.

  • University of Florida - 1990-2001. In 12 seasons he compiled an incredible 122-27-1 record. He led the team to its first ever national championship during the 1996 season with a 52-20 victory over Florida State in the Sugar Bowl. He was named SEC Head Coach of the Year five times: 1990,1991, 1994, 1995 and 1996.

  • Washington Redskins - NFL 2002 and 2003. Went 12-20 in a pair of seasons. He resigned after the 2003 campaign.

  • University of South Carolina - 2005-15. Went 86-49 and the team was ranked in the top 25 at some point in nine of his 10 seasons in charge. On October 12, 2015 he resigned as head coach.

Orlando appears to be a wise choice by the Alliance of American Football as its first city. Orlando has a long history of showing support for other football leagues. Naming Steve Spurrier as its head coach gives it instant credibility as the area is rife with Florida Gators fans.

Spurrier has already invited former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow to join the team if he wants to pursue his football career. Right now, Tebow is playing for the New York Mets Double-A organization, the Binghamton Rumble Ponies. If Tebow does join Orlando it would generate even more media buzz.

Based on history, Steve Spurrier will likely compile a high-powered offense for Orlando fans to enjoy. Also, many players will have an interest in playing for him knowing that doing so could help them either get back to the NFL or move up to it.

It wouldn't be surprising to see Orlando host the inaugural AAF game on CBS on February 9, 2019. Already from a curiosity standpoint, football fans would tune in to see Steve Spurrier coach again.

Over the next few weeks, other cities and head coaches will be announced by the AAF, creating even more interest in this league, especially in the markets that don't have professional football. It will be fun to see all the news that gets unveiled over the next few months.

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Alliance of American Football Stories from April 10, 2018

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