The Alliance of American Football league added another big name Saturday, announcing that Hall of Famer Steve Spurrier will coach its Orlando team.
Spurrier said in a statement that he is “fired up and ready to go” and noted that the new league gives him “a unique opportunity to get back into coaching.”
The Alliance of American Football, run by Charlie Ebersol, plans to debut Feb. 9, 2019, the week after Super Bowl LIII. The season will run 10 weeks and will have eight teams.
To help him steer the league, Ebersol has brought on former NFL general manager Bill Polian, currently an analyst for ESPN. The player side will be overseen by former Steelers safety Troy Polamalu, and the team side will be guided by former Southern California standout and executive J.K. McKay. Advisers to the league also will include former NFL players Hines Ward and Justin Tuck.
Spurrier, who turns 73 later this month, last coached South Carolina in 2015, when he resigned midway through the season.
“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 in a statement released by the league. “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.”
Ebersol said in a statement that Spurrier’s connection to Florida, where he won a Heisman Trophy as a player and a national championship as a coach with the Gators, was a key factor in hiring him as Orlando’s coach.
“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.
“Well, we’re not just bringing professional football to town, we’re bringing the Head Ball Coach with us, a true Florida legend.”
Ebersol’s league is set to debut one year earlier than its rival, the revamped XFL under Vince McMahon. Ebersol’s father, Dick Ebersol, was McMahon’s partner in the original XFL and is a longtime television executive.
While McMahon’s league is backed by McMahon’s money, Charlie Ebersol’s league is backed by others, including former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund and The Chernin Group, which, among other investments, owns a significant share of Barstool Sports.
The league, made up of players who didn’t make the cut for the NFL, will have the initial game and the championship game on CBS and one matchup per week on CBS Sports Network.