Arena Football News & Notes
Shock’s Offense Does Not “Stull”
As noted at the beginning of the week, the Spokane Shock, the defending ArenaBowl champions, made some changes to the offensive side of their coaching staff after limping to a surprising 0-3 start. New offensive coordinator Andy Olson seems to be pushing the right buttons right away. Spokane rolled to a 61-34 victory over the visiting Kansas City Command in National Conference action Friday night, a game that saw KC fall to 0-3 and Spokane quarterback Kyle Rowley set career franchise marks for pass yards (6,874) and pass TD’s (155).
Of local interest is that former Pitt and Seton-LaSalle QB Bill Stull made his debut for the Shock. Unfortunately it did not go smoothly; Stull’s only attempt of the night resulted in an interception.
Misery Loves Company
There are six franchises formerly of ArenaFootball2, a now-defunct developmental league, that are in their second year of operations in the new Arena Football League. One of them is the Milwaukee Mustangs, whom the Pittsburgh Power defeated Monday, and another is the Power’s upcoming opponent, the Tulsa Talons, who were blown out at home by the Arizona Rattlers that night to close out Week 3. They are two of four former AF2 teams that have started the year 0-3. In all, the former AF2 franchises are a combined 4-14 entering Saturday’s games.
No Place Like Home…?
If you’re a believer in playing the percentages, it’s a good thing the Power are at home in Week 4. So far home teams are 17-10 on the young AFL season. Having said that, the Power entered the weekend as the only team in the American Conference’s East Division that had won a home game. Division rival Cleveland plays its first home contest Saturday afternoon against the Chicago Rush, while Philadelphia’s home schedule does not open until a Fri., Apr. 15 contest versus the Tampa Bay Storm. Kansas City, the only other AFL team that has yet to play a home game, will do so next Saturday against National Conference Central Division rival Iowa.
You can’t get anywhere in the AFL without a franchise quarterback, and the league’s most successful franchise, apparently, is searching far and wide for its next one. The Tampa Bay Storm are holding an open tryout next Saturday to try and fill the position after a revolving door of rookie quarterbacks has left the team 1-3 coming off an ArenaBowl berth, and averaging a pedestrian 34.5 points per game. In case you want to try out, you can pre-register on the Storm’s official website, but anyway, it’s hard not to justify this strategy. Mike Potts started the season and threw just two TD’s against three INT’s in two games, and rookie backup Grant Gregory, who started strong, now has a passer rating of just 59.5.
In the Arena Football League, teams are allowed to designate three “marketing players” apiece, which is the equivalent of the “franchise tag” in the NFL. But apparently Paul Ross, co-owner of the 0-3 Tulsa Talons, believes his team is operating at an unfair competitive disadvantage after seeing several top players on both sides of the ball pursue employment with other AFL teams in spite of the opportunity to make the higher salary afforded to a “marketing player.” Earlier this week, Ross seemed to take a veiled shot at other franchises:
“We’re allowed to pay so much money under the guidelines. When we offer a marketing contract and a player says he’s got a better deal, there’s not much more room for us to go unless we want to start breaking the rules,” he said to the Tulsa World Sports Extra.
The allegation seems to be that certain players are getting paid by individual teams in violation of the league’s single-entity business model (the league, not the teams, pays the players). Team and league officials have not offered any response to Ross’ remark.
The Power remained in the No. 10 spot in the AFL Coaches’ Poll for Week 3, but there is a new top dog. The Arizona Rattlers, which routed the Power’s Saturday night opponent, the Tulsa Talons, received nine of the 18 first-place votes after their 69-20 blowout at Tulsa’s BOK Center.
By Matt Popchock