SALT LAKE CITY — Dennis Erickson will be coaching again — and in Rice-Eccles Stadium, to boot.
The former University of Utah assistant coach has been named the first head coach of Alliance Salt Lake, which was introduced as one of the first four members of the fledgling Alliance of American Football league.
Salt Lake’s squad will play its home schedule on the Utes’ turf, a fact that helped entice Erickson out of retirement.
Hearing that Salt Lake City was one of the first teams — and the one he’d coach — was a huge bonus for Erickson. His 47-year coaching career included four seasons in Utah including one season (2013) as Kyle Whittingham’s offensive coordinator.
“Really, I had a great time here,” Erickson said. “I didn’t have as much pressure because I wasn’t the head coach — that was all Whittingham — but I just loved this town.”
Atlanta, Memphis and Orlando are the other three teams to have been named to a league that will start with eight teams. Phoenix is the next city that will be introduced.
The Alliance was founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol, son of TV legend Dick Ebersol (board of directors), and Hall of Famer Bill Polian. Former Steelers greats Troy Polamalu (head of player relations) and Hines Ward (player relations executive) are among the other well-known NFL guys spearheading this league.
AAF executives believe their league will succeed where other secondary pro football leagues — like the USFL and XFL — have failed because of financial backing and personnel involved. The idea is to complement the NFL, perhaps even becoming of a minor-league springboard.
“It’s impressive. It’s people that are in it for the long haul,” AAF head of football operations J.K. McKay said of the financiers and sponsors. “We’ve been very realistic in our budgetary projections in terms of how many tickets we think we can sell and what the costs are going to be.”
The league is also in a good broadcasting position, having already secured a national TV contract with CBS. Every game will also be streamed.
The AAF will begin its 10-game schedule following the NFL’s Super Bowl on February 9, 2019. There will be two playoff rounds and a championship game on the final weekend of April.
To help promote player safety, the AAF will not have kickoffs or extra points. Teams hoping to keep the ball after a touchdown will have the opportunity to attempt a fourth-and-10 play from the 35-yard line to retain possession.
The league will allocate local players to the nearest team, meaning former Beehive State collegiate players will end up with Alliance Salt Lake. There will be a version of a draft for unallocated players.
“Now that we have the coaches involved, we’re all going to sit in a room and argue about it for a while,” McKay joked.
Erickson chuckled when asked if he’d be willing to coach players from BYU. He mentioned that he’s close friends with Cougar coaches Kalani Sitake and Aaron Roderick and added, “If they’re good, I’ll coach anybody.”
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Source:: Deseret News – Sports News