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Alliance Coming San Diego

Alliance of American Football Picks First California City

by Loyd McIntosh
Courtesy AAF

Six down, two to go. Just eight months from the planned start of the inaugural season, the Alliance of American Football announced San Diego as it’s the newest city for the upstart league. After announcing its first three cities which were all based in the Southeast – Orlando, Atlanta, and Memphis – AAF leadership has turned the new league’s attention on the west, announcing teams in Phoenix, Salt Lake City and now San Diego.

The Alliance of American Football will launch its inaugural season on February 9, one week after the NFL Super Bowl. The league plans include an eight-team league playing a 10-week regular season, followed by a playoff, and a championship game weekend scheduled for the weekend of April 26-28.

During a press conference on Thursday, May 31, former St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz was announced as Alliance San Diego’s first head coach. Martz was named head coach of the Rams following the retirement of Dick Vermeil following the Cinderella season in 1999 in which the Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV behind then unknown journeyman quarterback Kurt Warner.

Martz was the offensive coordinator that season, leading a high-powered offense known as the Greatest Show on Turf, scoring 526 points, the fourth highest in NFL history. After leaving St. Louis, Martz went on to serve as offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers and the Chicago Bears. He initially retired from coaching in 2012 but has been lured out of retirement to lead San Diego’s entry in the new spring football league.

Martz has roots in Southern California, playing tight end at San Diego Mesa College, University of California, Santa Barbara, and Fresno State University before graduating from Washington University in St. Louis in 1972. He began his coaching career in Fresno at Bullard High School. Martz joined the coaching staff of the Los Angeles Rams in 1992 as the quarterback coach, then switched to coaching wide receivers upon the team’s move to St. Louis in 1995.

The AAF will introduce several new innovations when the league kicks off in February 2019, with the intention of making games more exciting. Games will be broadcast on CBS and will trim the number of commercial breaks and unnecessary timeouts, and cut the time of games to about 150 minutes, as compared to the NFL average of 180 minutes. Some of the rule innovations will include, eliminating kickoffs and starting possessions on the 25-yard line; a 30-second play clock, 10 seconds faster than the NFL clock; teams will be required to attempt a two-point conversion after touchdowns instead of kicking an extra point; and two coach’s challenges per game will be the only replays.