There are 172 teams between the NFL and major college football, and for 171 of them, the season is already over. The Patriots will cruise to a Super Bowl victory next week because the universe owes us nothing, and Patriots fans will pretend that their 30th championship in the last 20 years is just as meaningful as the last 29.
But soon even they will be left to ponder a gaping, endless offseason with the rest of us. Enter the Alliance of American Football, or the AAF.
So, what is it?
Founded last year by television producer Charlie Ebersol (son of TV executive giant Dick Ebersol) and former Colts GM and current ESPN analyst Bill Polian, the AAF is a planned professional football league with eight teams located in cities in the southern and western United States.
The AAF, following in the footsteps of failed XFL and UFL, likely intends to be an NFL minor league of sorts, snapping up practice squad-bound players and having them play in real, meaningful games.
The way they picked the players is an interesting gamble which might end up paying dividends. They selected players to teams based on geography: since college football is very popular where the teams are located, that means every franchise is a sort of an All-”Remember When” team for college teams in that area, even extending to the coaching staffs. This makes for a weird blend of extreme draft busts and players who maybe never got a deserved chance in the NFL.
Who’s in it?
There are eight total teams, seven of them located below the 35th degree parallel north.
The Atlanta legends play at the Turner Field-turned-Georgia State football stadium, coached by Kevin Coyle with offensive coordinator Michael Vick (you may have heard of him). They’re led by Tennessee legend Matt Simms, who performed so bad in his last season in Knoxville that his father Phil threatened to punch Desmond Howard over it.
The Birmingham Iron play in the insanely old and decrepit Legion Field and feature former Alabama star Blake Sims and former Heisman finalist Trent Richardson, one of the biggest draft busts in history.
The Memphis Express is coached by former NFL player and coach Mike Singletary. The team will have a great quarterback competition between former LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger and infamous draft bust Christian Hackenberg.
The Orlando Apollos have the biggest coaching name involved in the league with former Florida head coach Steve Spurrier at the helm. He’ll be leading former Texas quarterback Garrett Bilbert into battle, along with South Florida running back D’Ernest Johnson and Florida wideout Frankie Hammond into battle.
The Arizona Hotshots probably have the second-biggest head coaching name involved in the league with former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel. Trevor Knight, whose claim to fame is losing a quarterback competition to Baker Mayfield, will likely be the starting QB.
The Salt Lake Stallions are coached by west coast legend Dennis Erickson and feature former South Florida legend B.J. Daniels, who was traded there by Orlando.
The Salt Lake Stallions’ head coach Mike Riley, of Nebraska infamy, will have a vicious quarterback competition on their hands. Dual threat quarterback Marquise Williams from USC will take on Logan Woodside, who threw for over 10,000 yards in his four years at Toledo.
Finally, the San Diego Fleet will be led into naval warfare by Mike Martz, who will have limited options after his star quarterback Josh Johnson was stolen away by the NFL at the end of last year.
After all that, how do I watch?
Charlie Ebersol’s connections in the television industry lended him a pretty powerful partner: CBS proper, which will televise the opening day of games on Feb. 9 and one game a week on CBS Sports for the remaining nine.
All told, I’m excited to see how the league plays out in general, but I’ll mostly be interested in how it interacts with the peripheries of both the college game and the NFL. How Vick does as an offensive coordinator in Atlanta could very well land him the same job in college, and players like D’Ernest Johnson could use it as a springboard into the NFL.
Luke Swanson is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.