After his Orlando Apollos beat the Memphis Express 21-17 on Saturday night, coach Steve Spurrier wanted to assure the AAF team’s fans of something.
“I just want the Orlando-area people to know that we’re the Apollos of Orlando and we appreciate those that came out tonight,” Spurrier said during his postgame news conference, “and we look forward to returning.”
Where are they going?
Starting this week, the Apollos will be living about 140 miles away in Jacksonville, Florida. From there, they will hop on a bus and travel 30 miles each day to hold their practices at a high school in Kingsland, Georgia, for 36 days.
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The irony of Spurrier, who coached 12 years at Florida and took every opportunity to take shots at rival Georgia, is inescapable.
This issue, first reported by the Orlando Sentinel, is that the state of Florida doesn’t allow for professional athletes to be covered under its workers’ compensation laws. The newspaper cited Alliance of American Football officials in reporting that the start-up league hasn’t been able to find insurance companies to cover all eight teams in the league.
Georgia law allows for workers’ compensation coverage for pro athletes. The catch is that the Apollos have to spend at least 51 percent of their practice time in the state.
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Spurrier said the team would be boarding buses for Jacksonville on Sunday.
“We’re all driving up, taking a couple of buses,” Spurrier said. “We’re basically living in Jacksonville and then we get on the bus, go up there and practice, come back and (go to a) hotel in Jacksonville. So that’s just what we have to do.
“That workman’s comp thing, we’ve tried and tried and tried, but the state of Florida has different laws than the state of Georiga. So that’s what we have to do. But we’re OK with it. They’ve got a nice practice facility up at that high school and so forth.”
The Apollos return to Orlando for their March 16 game against the Arizona Hotspots UCF’s Spectrum Stadium.
Spurrier’s news conferences are often entertaining and Saturday night’s was no different.
Among the highlights:
► For the third week in a row, Spurrier poked fun at a team from his past. His target this time was South Carolina, where he coached the Gamecocks for 11 seasons from 2005-15.
“I tell you the football gods have been smiling on me the last two (AAF) weeks,” Spurrier said about the Apollos being fortunate to be 3-0. “I think all the crap I had at South Carolina those last two years, they’re coming back. They’re smiling on me a little bit.”
After three consecutive 11-2 seasons, South Carolina went 7-6 in 2014 and the Gamecocks were 2-4 before Spurrier retired six games into the 2015 season.
► Spurrier continued the theme of the Apollos being lucky to have won their past two games when addressing Orlando’s narrow victory against the Express.
“We needed a slap in the face a little bit after beating San Antonio (in Week 2),” Spurrier said. “I think one of the newspapers, USA TODAY said we were the top team in the Alliance. Well, we’re not the top team right now. Our record is I guess, but I don’t think we’re the best team by any means right now.”
► He also took a shot at his own coaching decisions.
“There’s a bunch of dumb-ass coaches that play cover 2 on third-and-18,” he said, “and now I’m one of that does it.”