Wednesday, August 31, 2011

San Antonio to obtain an AFL franchise... but it's not the Talons?

The newswires were all a buzz on Tuesday after reports surfaced that San Antonio will be home to an AFL franchise next year. It's expected than an official announcement of San Antonio's status will be announced today. For weeks (maybe even months) rumors had it that the Tulsa Talons would be sold and moved to San Antonio, so it stunned the AFL nation when Talons owners came out and the Tulsa World today reported:

It is unclear whether the new franchise would be an expansion or relocated team, but rumors have swirled for months that the Talons would be sold and moved to San Antonio.

"More power to San Antonio, but that's not us," Talons co-owner and managing partner Paul Ross told the Tulsa World on Tuesday.

Ross insisted the team has not been sold.

He admitted the team is "looking at (two) opportunities outside of Tulsa," but he insisted there are no definite plans.

He said he and the other owners - Henry Primeaux, Michael Johnson, Bill Cameron and David Box - are still expected to meet next week to decide the team's fate.

However, there was more bad news when it came out that a group headed by former Drillers owner Chuck Lamson pulled out of negotiations to purchase a share of the Talons.

The good news today is that, for the time being, the Talons remain in Tulsa.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The af2 effect and why it needs to return

Throughout the season longterm AFL fan/media site ArenaFan has complained about the talent level in the AFL. This culminated in Adam Markowitz's ArenaBowl preview where he said:

After all, it's pretty clear that both of these teams would have been smoked by basically any other ArenaBowl team from the 2000s before the league went on hiatus in 2009. The talent level just isn't there anymore for various reasons.

The bulk of the argument has been that the pay grade in the league no longer attracts top talent. But I see a different answer.

One major thing that the league had in the past decade, when the league saw the talent level raise, was the af2. The af2 served as a developmental league for arena football. No longer did teams have to train rookies on the fly throughout the season. The af2, centered in mid-market cities that would probably never house an AFL franchise, took mostly regional players and taught them the game.

In fact the last Rookie of the Year before the demise of the old AFL was former af2 Tulsa Talon Donovan Morgan. That same year, ArenaBowl champion Jeff Hughley almost made the leap to the AFL as a part of the Colorado Crush. And these were not the only players to do so. They were able to jump right into the AFL without much of a learning curve.

It was just this past week when I realized how important this development in the af2 was. I was reminiscing about the Talons' season and how great it would have been if the team that ended the season started the season. But it wasn't the actual players I was referring to; it was the experience the players had gained.

At the start of the season the Talons' defensive backfield, which had two rookie players, was horrible. The team gave up touchdowns on a multitude of busted coverages. These guys just did not understand the game. But what happened about five games into the season? It finally clicked. The biggest example was J.C. Neal's record setting game against the Blaze where J.C. demolished the AFL record for INT return yards in a single game.

In the old AFL this would not have happened. Players like J.C. would spend a season (or less) in the af2 before moving on to the AFL. But now, you have a decent amount of teams carrying a number of these rookie players who still have to learn the game. As a result, the first half of the season is going to be a little ugly until the players finally "get it".

As such, I don't think simply increasing pay will improve the talent of the AFL. What the league needs is experience. The only place that will come from is playing time. Accordingly, that will either come in the form of a developmental league, or at the cost of games early in the season.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

YouTube Tuesday - August 16, 2011

So that happened. The Jacksonville Sharks won the ArenaBowl on a last second TD that rocked the top spot on Sportcenter's Top 10 all week. Check out the play below, and congratulations to former Talons star Jeff Hughley on his championship ring!

Friday, August 12, 2011

ArenaBowl XXIV Features Matchup of Former Talons Stars

Two former Talons stars make big noise elsewhere in the league this year. Odie Armstrong showed the league he more than a blocker for Justin Allgood. Jeff Hughley made a name for himself on a team that was already stacked with WRs. Now each of them are Conference Champions about to face off in the ArenaBowl. In light of this, I wanted to do a little comparison as we prepare for the game here in an hour.

Odie Armstrong

In 2010 Odie rushed for 349 yards on 74 carries for 13 touchdowns. This year with the Rattlers his yards dipped to 295 on 77 carries, but his touchdowns rose to 17.

Jeff Hughley

In 2010 Jeff had 1258 yards on 113 receptions for 28 touchdowns. In addition, Jeff had 91 returns for 1642 yards and two touchdowns. With Jacksonville this year he had 1171 yards on only 89 receptions for 22 touchdowns. On kick returns he had 1447 yards on 69 returns and one touchdown.

Overall, Hughley made the better improvement. However, Odie seems to be on the better team as the Rattlers are heavily favored tonight. It will the first time Hughley and Armstrong have faced off against each other, as Hughley was injured in week one when the teams played.

Kickoff on NFL Network at 7:30 tonight.