Canadian Football League

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Former Canadian Football League Coach signs in AFL2

John Gregory once thought the last place he would coach was in arenafootball2."It was the thought of riding those buses like I did when I was coaching college football," the veteran coach said after being named Wednesday as coach and director of football operations for the af2 Iowa Barnstormers."But then I discovered there are these sleeper buses. In fact, I'd rather take a bus now than fly."Jeff Lamberti, president of the Barnstormers, announced Gregory's hiring at a news conference - the first for the new owners of the reactivated franchise that will bring arena football back to Des Moines after a six-year hiatus.Lamberti said a lease for the team to play at Wells Fargo Arena is the only remaining task before the franchise can start selling tickets and sponsorships. The investor group didn't want to wait to start on football operations."We are excited to have someone of John's record and experience to become our coach," Lamberti said. "He is someone who is a proven winner and knows how important the Barnstormers were to Des Moines and central Iowa."The new franchise will play a 16-game schedule from April to August in a 30-team league that has grown substantially over the past seven years as a low-cost minor league to the Arena Football League.Lamberti said league officials have made a commitment to consider moving the Des Moines franchise back into the AFL if sufficient support for the team can be shown."We are the only franchise that has that kind of commitment, but it will be based on what kind of level of support we have," Lamberti said.Af2 players' pay is restricted to $200 per week with a $50 win bonus and all football staff - players and coaches - are employees of the league. Players and staff also are given housing during the season. By comparison, average pay for AFL players ranges from $60,000 to $70,000 a year.Gregory, 68, a Webster City native, intends to use the same strategy as when he coached the AFL Barnstormers from 1995 through 2000. He hopes to develop a franchise that will compete for titles immediately."We will search nationwide, but we will look to Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Drake first," Gregory said.He said he has begun to put together a coaching staff that could include members from the AFL Barnstormers team. Gregory added that an open tryout for players is likely to be scheduled for January.Gregory, who has been a head coach in college football as well as the Canadian Football League and the AFL, said fans should not be concerned about quality of play. Gregory has been coach for the past two seasons of the af2 Arkansas Twisters, who qualified for the playoffs in both seasons."I genuinely believe that my Arkansas teams would have kicked the butts of the old teams I had up here," Gregory said.Gregory said there will be much more interest in the two arena leagues because of the demise of NFL Europe."That means there will be 400 more players looking for ways to get noticed," Gregory said. "Arena football is right now just about the only U.S. alternative for development and training to get into the NFL."


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