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Alliance of American Football Week 1 Open Thread

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Football’s back (kind of)! Come remember some guys and talk about the Big Ten players in the AAF, starting Saturday night!

Penn State v Michigan State
A Hackenberg, in his natural habitat and posture
Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In case you’d forgotten already—HOW COULD YOU—the Alliance of American Football kicks off tonight. It’s billed as...I guess an off-season alternative to the NFL? Maybe a way for marginal pro talent to extend their careers or get another shot at The Show?

Either way, it’s an excellent chance to Remember Some Guys. We’ve given you one look at the league’s Big Ten-adjacent rosters—and we’ve since learned that teams held regional drafts, explaining why so many Nebraska players are playing for Salt Lake City, etc. (We figured mutual affinity for mayonnaise.)

Here’s your thread for the weekend’ Big Ten players active in these games. Some notable rules, too:

  • It’s faster (supposedly): No TV timeouts, fewer commercials, and a 35-second play clock.
  • Anti-kicker (BOOOOO): No PATs—only 2-point conversions—and ball at the 25 instead of a kickoff; field goals are still an option.
  • No onside kicks: NFL ruined ‘em. Instead, teams can try 4th-and-12 from their 28—ONLY when down by 17 or in the last 5 minutes of the game.
  • HAIL SKYNET SkyJudge: Some real-time bullshit that can call pass interference with under five minutes in the fourth quarter; no doubt comforting to the Saints (fuck ‘em).
  • Gets OT wrong: One possession each, 1st-and-goal from the 10, need a TD. Ties possible.

Here are your matchups and Big Ten-related rosters:

Atlanta Legends at Orlando Apollos

Saturday, Feb. 9 | 7pm CT

Atlanta: Denard Robinson (RB, Michigan Wolverines); Akrum Wadley (RB, Iowa Hawkeyes); Chase Farris (OT, Ohio State Buckeyes); Tracy Sprinkle (DT, OSU); Doran Grant (DB, OSU)

Orlando: Steve Spurrier (Coach, friend to all); Austin Appleby (QB, formerly Purdue Boilermakers-turned-Florida Gators); De’Veon Smith (RB, Michigan); Jalin Marshall (WR, Ohio State)

Team you should actually be interested in: The Youngstown Patricians! I had envisioned this section being mostly defunct Arena Football League or Canadian Football League teams in these teams’ regions, but I came across the Patricians, and oh man!

The football team was organized in 1911 by the Patrician Club, a men’s organization connected to St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic parish, on the city’s south side.

Excellent! A religious, semi-professional football team that had rivalries with some of the OG NFL squads like the Canton Bulldogs! Anything else, perhaps from the old-timey football team mission statement department?

The Patricians football team motto was “With Malice to None and a Square Deal to all.”

TEDDY ROOSEVELT’S OHIO LEAGUE TEAM! Anything else we should know?

[T]he Patricians entered the 1915 season with a confidence that was soon reflected in the local media. That season, the Patricians won eight games and tied one. The most unexpected victory was a 13–7 win over the Washington, D.C., Vigilants...the victory enabled the Patricians to lay claim to the World’s Championship.

The Alabama Crimson Tide, however, have also now laid claim to the 1915 Ohio League Championship.

San Diego Fleet at San Antonio Commanders

Saturday, Feb. 9 | 7pm | CBS

San Diego: Phillip Nelson (QB/kicker, Minnesota Golden Gophers to Rutgers to East Carolina Pirates); Paul James (RB, Rutgers Scarlet Knights); Marcus Baugh (TE, OSU); Myles Nash (DE, Rutgers); Gelen Robinson (DT, Purdue); Andrew Stelter (DT, Minnesota); Damarius Travis (SS, Minnesota)

San Antonio: Mike Riley (4-8, Nebraska Cornhuskers); David Cobb (RB, Minnesota); Alonzo Moore (WR, Nebraska Cornhuskers); Andrew McDonald (OL, Indiana Hoosiers); Matt Godin (DL, Michigan); Deion Barnes (LB, Penn State Nittany Lions); Austin Larkin (LB, Purdue); Danny Ezechukwu (LB, Purdue); Chase Dutra (DB, Indiana); Kurtis Drummond (DB, Michigan State Spartans)

Team you should actually be interested in: The San Antonio Texans! From the “CFL in the United States” wiki, which I am not ashamed to admit I have read multiple times in my life:

Before the 1993 season, the CFL granted expansion franchises to the owners of two WLAF teams, the Sacramento Surge and San Antonio Riders. The Riders changed their name to the Texans to avoid confusion with the Ottawa Rough Riders and Saskatchewan Roughriders. However, the original Texans franchise folded without ever playing a down when its owner, Larry Benson, ran out of money and was forced to withdraw.

The Surge changed their name to the Gold Miners, and played the 1993 and 1994 seasons in Sacramento. [... But] faced with an inadequate stadium [in Sacramemto] and an unsustainable travel situation, [owner Fred] Anderson reluctantly opted to move the team to San Antonio as the Texans.

The Texans—which had gotten the delightfully-Match Game name “Texans ‘93” for their aborted 1993 team—were actually pretty good, too!

The Texans were unique in that their stadium, the Alamodome, had a playing surface large enough to accommodate a regulation Canadian football field [...] The franchise finished the 1995 CFL season with a 12–6 record, finishing in second place of the South Division, which sent them to their first playoff berth.

In the playoffs, the Texans soundly defeated the Barracudas, 52–9, in the Southern Semi-Final [...] However, their playoff run would end with a loss to the eventual Grey Cup champion Baltimore Stallions in the Southern Final by a score of 21–11. As it turned out, it would be the last game the Texans would ever play, and (as of the 2015 season) the last meaningful CFL game ever played in the United States.

Memphis Express at Birmingham Iron

Sunday, Feb. 10 | 3pm | CBSSN

Odds that the Iron would lose to ‘Bama?

Memphis: Christian Hackenberg (QB, Penn State)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!; Quentin Gause (LB, Rutgers); Channing Stribling (DB, Michigan)

Birmingham: Ty Isaac (RB, Michigan); Amba Etta-Tawo (WR, Maryland Terrapins); Michael Dunn (OT, Maryland); Nick Novak (K, Maryland)

Team you should actually be interested in: The Memphis Maniax! As the “X” in Maniax implies...

The Memphis Maniax was an American football team based in Memphis, Tennessee. The team was part of the XFL begun by Vince McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment and by NBC, a major television network in the United States.

OK, fine, but did they have some equally-stupid fanbase?

The team’s name and logo were designed to lead the team’s fans into calling the team “The Ax”, a shortened form of the word “maniacs”.


Salt Lake Stallions at Arizona Hotshots

Sunday, Feb. 10 | 7pm | NFL Network

Salt Lake: Terrell Newby (RB, Nebraska); De’Mornay Pierson-El (WR, Nebraska); Kenny Bell (WR, Nebraska); Austin Traylor (TE, Wisconsin Badgers); Darius Hamilton (DT, Rutgers); Eddy Wilson (DL, Purdue); John Banderas (LB, Nebraska)

Arizona: Chunky Clements (DT, Illinois Fighting Illini); Steve Beauharnais (LB, Rutgers); Dexter McDougle (DB, Maryland); Kieron Williams (DB, Nebraska)

Team you should actually be interested in: You might be interested in the Arizona Wranglers of the USFL (including that :fire: logo), who merged with the Oklahoma Outlaws to become the Arizona Outlaws for the final season of the USFL...but I’m not.

No, we’re here to Remember Some Guys and talk about The Hawaiians, a World Football League team (1974-75) so awesome they were just known as “The Hawaiians.” Was this a terrible idea? ABSOLUTELY!

They were owned by real estate developer Christopher Hemmeter for the first season. He was named league president in 1975, and sold the Hawaiians to jewel merchant Edward Sultan, Jr.

To keep the NFL out of Hawaii, the WFL had the Hawaiians play their games on Sundays, while the rest of the league played (mostly) on Wednesday nights. This resulted in confusion, since one team played a different schedule from the rest of the league, and teams had to fly back to the mainland Sunday night to play again on Wednesday night.

That sounds awful! Was there anything amusing about the World Football League? YES THERE WAS:

The dicker-rod was used in the now defunct World Football League in 1974 for the purpose of replacing the first down chains more commonly used in gridiron football organizations. The device was invented and patented[1] by George Dicker (for whom the device is named) of Orange County, California.

The eponymous device was two and a half yards (90 inches) long. If a ball was placed on the 23-yard line, a marker would be placed 2 yards up the dicker-rod at the 25-yard line. Then, in order to measure whether a first down was attained, the dicker-rod would be laid down at the 35-yard line, and the spot of the ball would be measured against the marker on the rod, which would now be at the 33-yard line, 2 yards away from the 35-yard line.

The dicker-rod was intended for safety as a ten yard length of chain laying along the sideline was a hazard for players. A full chain crew was not needed, and measurements could be completed by one person instead of the typical three. Despite its elegant simplicity, the dicker rod never caught on outside of World Football League, and the three-man chain measurement crew remains the standard to this day.

Glorious. Bring back the dicker-rod, Big Ten.

Teams Not Appearing in This Film:

Northwestern Wildcats. Literally the only Big Ten team without an AAF representative.

If you’re interested, here’s your open thread for the weekend Maybe? Or talk about the NFL draft or something. Or bracketology. Or the NCAA Tournament. Or whatever—I can’t think of any more things that SBNation’s auto-tag recognizes; is this what SEO is?