The A-11 league...has some different rules.....[url=http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_25079182/former-east-bay-prep-football-coaches-launch-new]http://www.mercurynews.com/sports/ci_25 ... launch-new[/url]
SAN FRANCISCO -- The A11 Professional Football League has become a reality for a pair of former Piedmont High coaches with lofty goals, which now includes luring quarterback Tim Tebow.
Kurt Bryan and Steve Humphries, co-founders of the league that will launch later this year with two showcase games, on Thursday officially announced the creation of a new spring football league they've spent more than three years pursuing.
The A11FL will play its first full season in the spring of 2015 and have eight teams, including the San Francisco Bay Area Sea Lions. ESPN will serve as the broadcast partner for the two showcase games -- May 17 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., and June 5 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas -- and will broadcast games weekly during the inaugural season in 2015.
Six of the eight teams were announced Thursday, with the final two host cities to be determined. The league purchased names from the old USFL, giving a familiar feel to several of the teams. There will be the Los Angeles Express, New Jersey Generals, Dallas Wranglers, Chicago Staggs and Tampa Bay Bandits.
Scott McKibben, a former executive director of the Rose Bowl, will serve as the league's chief executive officer and commissioner. Former NFL player, scout and football executive Michael Keller is the president and chief operating officer.
Their goal is to create a league that's complementary to the NFL and provides an affordable alternative for football fans with average ticket prices of about $30.
"We want to be able to make it available to young sports fans, boys and girls, and everybody who doesn't always get a chance to go to a major league game and tailgate and have that great experience that we as Americans kind of look at now as our right," McKibben said.
A home venue for the Sea Lions has not be determined but McKibben said they've explored the possibilities of playing at Stanford Stadium, Cal's Memorial Stadium and the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
The only venues already in place are the Bandits at Raymond James Stadium, also home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Wranglers' site at the Cotton Bowl.
The league will allow, but not require, use of the A11 offense that Bryan and Humphries co-created in 2007 when Bryan was the head coach and Humphries was the offensive coordinator at Piedmont High.
The offense utilizes two quarterbacks in a scrimmage kick formation (one quarterback lined up at least seven yards behind the line of scrimmage). That allows every player on the field to wear an eligible number (1-49, 80-99), and through a variety of pre-snap shifts, all 11 players are potentially eligible to catch a pass.
The offense's effectiveness at the high school level was later limited by a 2009 rule change from the National Federation of State High School Associations that required at least four players numbers wear 50-79, thus making them ineligible to catch a pass. Piedmont appealed for the California Interscholastic Federation to not adopt the NFHS change, but was rejected.
Two years later, Bryan and Humphries stepped down at Piedmont to pursue an "amazing football opportunity," Bryan said at the time. He had a 52-43-1 record in two stints at Piedmont. The Highlanders went 15-7 during the two seasons the A11 was fully utilized and 8-14 in the two seasons after the NFHS effectively banned it.
All of that made Thursday a particularly satisfying day for Bryan.
"With the amount of national support that the A11 offense had built up to that point and for us to present that and then get shut down was extremely disappointing," Bryan said. "To be here today, a new spring pro football league centered around the A11 offense, is a great thing for everybody, including the NFHS and the CIF."
Bryan remembers hearing that innovation such as the A11 needed to "come from the top" to be accepted at the high school level and on Thursday said, "we'd be glad to help."
The league would also be more than glad to sign Tebow, the former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback who fizzled out in the NFL and recently signed with ESPN to be a college football analyst.
"We have made an offer to Tim Tebow," McKibben said. "We've had probably three or four discussions with people in the Tebow camp. We'd love to have Tim Tebow join our league. we think that if Tim came to play in the spring, he could still very much honor his obligations to ESPN."
Bryan, who will be a candidate for the Sea Lions head coaching job, and Humphries agreed that Tebow would be a great fit for the league and the offense.
"With everybody spread out, you have a 230-pound quarterback who can run and throw and run the speed option and the read option," Bryan said of Tebow. "He is the ideal A11 quarterback."
The league will look to fill its rosters from the surplus of college players who can't find a spot in the NFL. The first step is compling 150 players to play in the two showcase games. Those players will later be assigned to rosters through a dispersal draft. Teams will have rights to regional players so, for example, the Tampa Bay Bandits would have rights to Tebow, a Jacksonville, Fla., native.
The league hopes to line up its eight head coaches soon and they will all be part of the staffs for the showcase games before taking over their respective teams.
The A11FL could become a competitor for players, fans and broadcast rights to the Arena Football League, which also plays in the spring. A request for comment from the San Jose SaberCats did not receive an immediate response.