The Alliance of American Football is basically dead. The AAF has suspended its football operations after just eight weeks of play and there’s really no sign the league will ever return to form. There was some good that came from it, though, and others who might have gotten what they wanted, but no real champion has been declared. Well, officially.
Stop me when you have heard this before: An Orlando-based football team with the best regular season record wants to be dubbed the champion. Stop? That didn’t take long. Then again, that’s the whole point.
After the UCF Knights finished the 2017 regular season with an undefeated record and capped it off with a 34-27 victory over the Auburn Tigers in the Peach Bowl, the program and all of their obnoxious fans claimed to have won the national championship, even though they weren’t invited to the College Football Playoff.
Now, after finishing the season with the league’s best record at 7-1, Orlando Apollos head coach Steve Spurrier says his team had “wonderful attitudes” and had a good “effort level” all season long. Oh, the legendary head coach thinks they should be the AAF champs of the first season, too.
“We started the season wanting to win the Alliance championship,” said the 73-year-old Spurrier, who has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. “If they declare a champ, hopefully these guys will be declared the champ because they certainly are deserving.”
Spurrier has been around the game of football a long time. Whether it was with the Florida Gators or South Carolina Gamecocks at the college level or his short coaching stint with the Washington Redskins in the NFL, he’s certainly found success. He did so again in Central Florida in the AAF.
Practice troubles and all, Spurrier will go down as the winningest coach in AAF history.
Imagine that. Also imagine another football team in Orlando clinging on hopes to a title.
“We’re all disappointed, but, on the other side, we’ve got to be the champs, right? We’re 7-1 and the next teams are 5-3. Some of us didn’t get into the Alliance to try to advance our careers, but the players, I’m more disappointed for all of the players that believe, ‘this is my chance to show people that I can play this game.’
“A lot of them will get opportunities. They’ve shown enough. But it’s sad to end this way.”
— Orlando Apollos coach Steve Spurrier, via Christian Bruey of WFTV
Led by quarterback Garrett Gilbert, the Apollos defeated the Atlanta Legends, San Antonio Commanders, Memphis Express, Salt Lake Stallions, Birmingham Iron, Atlanta Legends and Memphis Express again. The only loss came to the Arizona Hotshots in Week 5.
Unfortunately, Alliance football league games against the San Diego Fleet and Birmingham Iron will not be played.
Only time will tell what will happen to the AAF, including CEO and founder Charlie Ebersol, co-founder Bill Polian, and majority owner Tom Dundon, but it appears this is the end of the road in the middle of inaugural season.
However, if recent Orlando football history is accurate, then we might never hear the end of the Apollos being the AAF champs, whether they were or not.