Josh Kendall

Why new pro league wanted Steve Spurrier and why he wanted the job

Steve Spurrier’s new job is “a perfect situation for me,” the college football Hall of Famer told The State newspaper on Saturday.

“They play 10 games. It’s in Orlando. It’s a four-to-five month a year job,” he said. “They divide the players up. We’re not recruiting ninth- and 10th-graders all year or searching for players.”

The Orlando team of the upstart American Alliance of Football, a professional league that will start in the winter of 2019, announced Saturday morning that Spurrier will be its inaugural head coach. This will be his third time coaching professional football. He was 35-19 in three years as head coach of the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL from 1983-1985 and then went 12-20 as head coach of the NFL’s Washington Redskins in 2002 and 2003.

The AAF will sell itself as a minor league professional league, offering players a proving ground for the NFL.

“There’s plenty of players that want to play pro football that don’t make it in the NFL,” Spurrier said. “That’s what it’s about, sort of like a minor league for football in America and the guys make a little bit. It should be interesting, very competitive. Looking forward to it.”

Most players for teams will be assigned by the league, but head coaches will be able to bring in a certain number of players on their own, said league co-founder Bill Polian, who was a longtime NFL executive.

“We’re a startup, and we’re doing it very quickly, so we need to get established coaches, and he’s all of that,” Polian told The State on Saturday. “Secondly, any new league you want to emphasize offense, so check box two. No. 3, he’s well known in Florida.”

The final reason the new league sought out Spurrier, Polian said, is it envisions itself especially as a place where young quarterbacks can get playing time and catch the eye of an NFL team.

“He’s really good at developing quarterbacks, which we think is an important part of what we do,” Polian said.

No one had to talk Spurrier into taking the job, Polian said.

“No, no,” Polian said. “He was enthusiastic about it.”

Spurrier is the winningest coach all-time at both South Carolina and Florida and also led Duke to an ACC title. He was 86-49 with the Gamecocks from 2005-2015 and led the team to an SEC East title and three consecutive 11-win seasons.

“It’s fun being on a team, seeing if we can go win the championship of the league,” Spurrier said. “That’ll be our goal.”