When thinking about who might make a successful A11 Football League head coach, one of the top pool groups would have to be former college football head coaches.
Why? Simple – recruiting.
When an A11FL head coach goes out and looks for free agents – both prior to the first season in 2015 and during, due to injuries and such – he won’t have the advantage of paying a player more than another team might.
So how will said head coach convince the players he wants to add to come to his team, not another A11FL team? Good old-fashioned recruiting, just like in college.
There have been three major professional spring outdoor football leagues prior to the A11FL – the United States Football League (1983-85), the World League of American Football (1991-92, 1995-97)/NFL Europe (1998-2007) and the XFL (2001). The WLAF/NFLE and XFL had fixed salaries, while the USFL didn’t.
Ex-collegiate coaches, therefore, had a financial leg up in the USFL. So this isn’t quite comparing apples to apples, but here is a list of some spring pro head coaches who found success coming right out of the college ranks:
- Prior to being named the head coach of the USFL’s Tampa Bay Bandits, Steve Spurrier was an assistant coach at the University of Florida (his alma mater), Georgia Tech and Duke. Spurrier then created “BanditBall,” and he led the Bandits to a 35-19 regular-season record and two postseason berths over three seasons.
- Pepper Rodgers had been out of football since 1979, his last year as head coach at Georgia Tech, before being named the head coach of the USFL’s Memphis Showboats, starting in 1984. After a disappointing 7-11 expansion season, Memphis went 11-7 in 1985, and was one step away from the 1985 USFL Championship Game.
- Jack Bicknell went right from the Boston College sidelines in the fall of 1990 to guiding the new Barcelona Dragons in the WLAF in the spring of 1991. The result was an 8-2 regular-season record and a spot in the league’s first World Bowl. Bicknell went on to be a head coach in every season of WLAF/NFLE except for the final one in 2007.
- Al Luginbill was Marshall Faulk’s head coach at San Diego State, and had been a college coach off-and-on since 1968, prior to beginning his professional head coaching career in the reborn WLAF with the Amsterdam Admirals in 1995. His rookie season in pro ball was a major success, as Luginbill led the Admirals to a league-best 9-1 record and a spot in World Bowl ’95.