May 18, 2018

Eight-team league to play at ASU's Sun Devil Stadium in offseason

The Alliance of American Football today announced the new coach for its Arizona team. Rick Neuheisel, a Tempe native, will coach the team in the new spring football league.

“What a thrill to be back home,” he said. “It’s totally an exciting time for the Neuheisel family.”

Neuheisel has had three head coaching stints at the NCAA level: at Colorado, Washington and UCLA.

The professional league's Phoenix Alliance team will begin play at Arizona State University's Sun Devil Stadium next February, the week after the Super Bowl.

Founded by TV and film producer Charlie Ebersol and Hall of Famer Bill Polian, the Alliance of American Football features eight teams playing a 10-week regular season, kicking off Feb. 9 on CBS, followed by two playoff rounds and culminating with the championship game the weekend of April 26-28. The rules are also slightly different from the NFL game, such as no kickoffs and no television timeouts.

Closeup of Alliance league football helmet

A mock-up of the new Phoenix Alliance of American Football team's helmet and uniform is on display at the news conference announcing the team's coach. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Ebersol said Neuheisel was a clear choice.

“Not only is he the only person to win a Rose Bowl MVP as a player, and then win a Rose Bowl game as a coach, but he is somebody who played here, he won a high school championship here, he has brought two different Pac 12 teams to play here,” Ebersol said. “He is a man that from my perspective has represented the very best in what developing a great offense looks like. As a quarterback’s coach and as a coach across multiple levels of football somebody who not only has come on board as a coach but helped guide our mission in terms of what we’re trying to be.”

Neuheisel’s father taught real estate law at ASU.

The league games are only part of ASU’s plan to keep the stadium open for events all year long.

“We have this concept of Sun Devil Central 365, which means we want this venue, this university, this community to make itself available for a bunch of things, including partnerships like this,” said Ray Anderson, vice president of university athletics at ASU.

The 365 Community Union initiative — led by Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, vice president for cultural affairs at ASU and executive director of ASU Gammage — aims to turn the football stadium into a vibrant community hub. Rather than be used for only a handful of ASU football games, the stadium is envisioned as a place where students and residents from nearby communities are drawn to a wide range of activities and resources.

“It can no longer be a single-sourced program. It can no longer just support seven collegiate football games a year. It also must be a place the community can come and embrace,” Jennings-Roggensack said. “That means ASU faculty will come and do work here, from the Walter Cronkite studio to the commitment we have to our Pat Tillman veterans, to the Global Sports Initiative, to our Public Service Academy.”

Learn more about the Alliance of American Football, including season ticket deposits, and the 365 Community UnionTop photo: Newly announced Coach Rick Neuheisel, with ASU's Colleen Jennings-Roggensack and Ray Allen in the background, speaks at the news conference announcing that former collegiate head coach Neuheisel will take the reins of the new Phoenix Alliance of American Football team at its new home, Sun Devil Stadium, on Friday. Sun Devil Stadium will host the five home games in its inaugural season, beginning next February. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Scott Seckel

Reporter , ASU Now

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