Austin Wranglers

Last updated
Austin Wranglers
Established 2004 (in AFL)
Folded 2008 (in af2)
Played in Frank Erwin Center
in Austin, Texas
Austin Wranglers logo AustinWranglers.png
Austin Wranglers logo
League/conference affiliations
Arena Football League (20042007)
  • National Conference (2004–2007)

af2 (2008)

  • National Conference (2008)
    • Southwestern Div. (2008)
Team colorsNavy, red, silver, white
    
Personnel
Owner(s)Doug MacGregor
Head coach Ben Bennett
Team history
  • Austin Wranglers (2004–2008)
Championships
League championships (0)
Conference championships (0)
Division championships (0)
Playoff appearances (2)
  • AFL: 2006
  • af2: 2008
Home arena(s)

The Austin Wranglers were an arena football team based in Austin, Texas. They played four seasons in the Arena Football League from 2004 to 2007 and spent one season in af2, the AFL's developmental league, in 2008. They made playoff appearances in the AFL in 2006 and in af2 in 2008. They played their home games at the Frank Erwin Center at the University of Texas at Austin.

Contents

History

The Wranglers began play in February 2004 as an expansion team in the Arena Football League. They played their home games at the Frank Erwin Center on the University of Texas campus, playing in the Southern Division of the National Conference. The franchise is not to be confused with another Arena Football team called the Oklahoma Wranglers, who played the 2000 and 2001 seasons in Oklahoma City.

In 2004, the Wranglers accumulated an 8–8 record with such notables as quarterback John Kaleo, Charlie Davidson, and Darryl Hammond leading the Wrangler's respectable offensive campaign. The Wranglers however were unable to qualify for the playoffs, after stumbling to 3 losses to close out the season.

The 2004 off-season was relatively quiet; signings included former All-Rookie teamer OL/DL Bryan Henderson, OS Ira Gooch, and QB John Fitzgerald. Departed was former starting quarterback John Kaleo, traded to the Los Avengers for cash and future considerations.

The original mascot for the Austin Wranglers was named Blaze, who was a horse, and in 2005 he was joined by a cowboy - Red Eye (whose eyes glowed red). Due to the expansion team in Utah, the Blaze, the Austin Wranglers changed the name of their mascot to avoid confusion, so the final mascot had a "wilder" appearance than before and went by the name "Trigger".

The training camp which ensued was headlined by the competition between free agent pick up John Fitzgerald, fresh off leading the expansion VooDoo to the playoffs, against 2004 back-up Bobby Pesavento. Pesavento would ultimately defeat Fitzgerald for the starting job though Fitzgerald would take over four games into the season.

John Fitzgerald remained one of the only bright spots on a depleted team, as the Wrangler's finished 2005 with a 6–10 record.

Realizing the past failures in 2004 and 2005, the Wranglers management had an active off-season. Team presidents Doug MacGregor and Glyn Milburn both made important re-signings and signings, including Sedrick Robinson, AFL all-time leading tackler Damon Mason, Donvetis Franklin, Donovan Arp, Derrick Lewis, Chance Mock, and Marcus McKenzie.

On Wednesday, April 26, 2006, Deion Sanders, the multi-talented athlete who retired from playing in the NFL, became one of the franchise's owners. [1]

On May 7, 2006, the Wranglers clinched their first ever playoff berth with a win over the Grand Rapids Rampage. Unfortunately the Wranglers were eliminated from the playoffs after losing to the Philadelphia Soul in the first round of the wild card playoffs.

Shortly after the end of the Wranglers' season, team owner Doug MacGregor announced the firing of Skip Foster, after leading the Wranglers to a franchise best 10–6 season. This shocking move led many to speculate what the Wrangler's intentions were for the future.[ citation needed ]

After a month full of searching for the future head coach of the Wranglers, Austin announced on June 29, 2006, former offensive coordinator of the Colorado Crush, Brian Partlow, would lead the Wranglers in 2007. During his three seasons as offensive coordinator with the Crush, Partlow established a respected offense in the AFL, in which managed to win one Arena Bowl. Along with this success, Partlow coached offensive specialist Damian Harrell to two consecutive offensive player of the year seasons, while establishing John Dutton, cover boy of EA Sport's Arena Football, as one of the most feared quarterbacks in the league.

On September 15, 2006, the Arena Football League sent shockwaves through its fanbase announcing the implementation of free-substitution, substantially eliminating any remains of the AFL's highly regarded reputation of Ironman football. Previously teams were restricted one substitution per quarter, forcing wide receivers, defensive backs, offensive and defensive linemen to play both sides of the ball. It was highly believed teams would take advantage of this change, in increasing signings of former NFL and NFL Europe players rather than searching for existing talent already in the AFL. A month later in October, the Wranglers quickly proved this theory.

After a relatively quiet opening to the free agency period with the signing of former Georgia Force defensive specialist Nate Coggins, the Wranglers took advantage of the AFL's free-substitution rule, signing of a rather large batch of rookies lacking experience in the arena game including former Texas Longhorn Mike Williams. In addition, the Wranglers signed 2004 AFL Rookie of the Year and former Florida State Seminoles quarterback Adrian McPherson.

Following training camp 2007, the Wranglers roster was set as seven rookies made the cut (nearly a fourth of the team), while Adrian McPherson, Nate Coggins, Anthony Hines, and Chad Dukes were the lone AFL veteran free agent pick ups making the squad. The rest of the roster remained the core nucleus of the Wrangler's playoff run in 2006, including starting defensive specialist Damon Mason and stand out wide receiver Derrick Lewis.

The 2007 season, which would end up being the Wrangler's last in the AFL, served largely as a disappointment. Highly touted free agent pick up Adrian McPherson failed to live up to high expectations and was cut midway through the season, while the defense was among the league's worst, ranking 18th and 17th in defensive passing and receiving respectively. Fans speculate whether the loss of former defensive coordinator Jon Norris may have attributed to the Wrangler's defensive struggles in 2007.

On October 12, 2007, the team announced that they were moving from the AFL to the af2 after much speculation. [2] The ownership had made the decision due to financial difficulties, some rumoring the Wrangler's had lost over $4 million in 2007. In addition the decision was lubricated by the fact Doug MacGregor had purchased four expansion teams in the af2 in 2007, including the Corpus Christi Sharks and the Lubbock Renegades.

A new era of Wrangler's football began on October 22, 2007 with the signing of AFL Hall of Famer Ben Bennett as head coach of the Wranglers. In addition to an impressive resume as quarterback in college and the arena league, Bennett had coached the Florida Firecats to an ArenaCup title in 2004, and had accumulated a 56-33 record with the Manchester Wolves from 2005–2007.

Despite dropping to af2 and considering playing in Cedar Park Entertainment Center to cut costs, success did not follow the Wranglers to af2 while financial difficulties continued to plague the team. Ownership announced in September 2008 that the franchise would cease operations and not appear in 2009. [3]

Season-by-season

Notable players

Arena Football Hall of Famers

Austin Wranglers Hall of Famers
No.NameYear InductedPosition(s)Years w/ Wranglers
7 Darryl Hammond 2013 WR/LB 2004

Individual awards

Kicker of the Year
SeasonPlayerPosition
2007 Mark Lewis K

All-Arena players

The following Wranglers players have been named to All-Arena Teams:

All-Ironman players

The following Wranglers players have been named to All-Ironman Teams:

All-Rookie players

The following Wranglers players have been named to All-Rookie Teams:

Head coaches

NameTermRegular SeasonPlayoffsAwards
WLTWin%WL
Skip Foster 20042006 24240.50001
Brian Partlow 2007 4120.25000
Ben Bennett 2008 880.50001

Radio and television

The Wranglers flagship radio station was 1300 The Zone "The Longhorn's Station."

As far as television, all Wrangler games were seen on the af2's online television service af2TV.

Related Research Articles

The Indiana Firebirds were a team in the Arena Football League. The team was based in Indianapolis, Indiana. Home games were played at the Conseco Fieldhouse, also the home of the Indiana Pacers of the National Basketball Association and Indiana Fever of the Women's National Basketball Association.

The Dallas Desperados were a professional arena football team based in Dallas, Texas. The Desperados played in the Eastern Division of the Arena Football League from 2002 to 2008.

The Chicago Rush were a professional arena football team based in Rosemont, Illinois. The team played at the Allstate Arena from 2001 to 2013. They were a member of the Central Division of the National Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). Founded in 2001, the team qualified for the playoffs 11 out of 12 seasons and won one AFL championship, ArenaBowl XX in 2006. During their history, the Rush won five divisional titles and competed in the AFL Conference Championship six times, including four consecutive appearances from 2004 to 2007. They also had the largest market in the AFL.

The Philadelphia Soul were a professional arena football team based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and competed in the Arena Football League (AFL). The Soul made five ArenaBowl appearances, winning their first appearance and losing their next two appearances. The Soul won in their fourth appearance, against the Rattlers in 2016, winning 56–42. They also won in their fifth appearance in 2017 against the Tampa Bay Storm, winning 44–40.

The Cleveland Gladiators were an arena football team based in Cleveland, Ohio, United States, and members of the Arena Football League (AFL). The Gladiators played their home games at Quicken Loans Arena, which they shared with the Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association and the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. The franchise was originally based in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and then later in Las Vegas, Nevada, before relocating to Cleveland for the 2008 AFL season. The Gladiators qualified for the playoffs eight times in their history, reaching the ArenaBowl in 2014.

New Orleans VooDoo Arena football team

The New Orleans VooDoo were a professional arena football team based in New Orleans, Louisiana. The VooDoo were a member of the East Division of the American Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). They played their home games in Smoothie King Center. The VooDoo were unrelated to an earlier AFL team, the New Orleans Night, who had competed in the 1991 and 1992 AFL seasons in the Louisiana Superdome.

The Oklahoma Wranglers were a professional arena football team based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. They were members of the Central (1996–1997) and Western (1998–2001) Division of the American Conference of the Arena Football League (AFL). They previously played as the Memphis Pharaohs and Portland Forest Dragons. The team played at the Myriad, now known as the Cox Convention Center, in downtown Oklahoma City.

The Alabama Steeldogs, originally known as the Birmingham Steeldogs, were incorporated in 2000 as one of the charter teams in the AF2, the developmental league of the Arena Football League. Entering their eighth season as of 2007, they were the longest running of many professional football franchises in the city of Birmingham. Management announced that it would not field a team in 2008 but had hopes of returning in 2009. But the team's front office has since been dissolved, and with no announcements of further plans, the team is defunct.

The Bossier–Shreveport Battle Wings were an Arena Football League team based in Bossier City, Louisiana. They played at the CenturyTel Center in Bossier City and took their name from the metropolitan area that consists of Bossier City and neighboring city Shreveport in the Ark-La-Tex corridor. Playing in the defunct af2 from their inception in 2001 until the league's folding in 2009, the team had its best seasons in 2002, 2007, 2008, and 2009 having clinched division titles in the latter two years. They were also the only seasons in which the team had more wins than losses. In 2007, the Battle Wings clinched their first-ever playoff berth, beating the Arkansas Twisters and Rio Grande Valley Dorados before being beaten by the eventual Arena Cup champion Tulsa Talons. Despite having little success in their earlier days, the Battle Wings turned out some players who went on to appear in both the Canadian Football League and for other teams the Arena Football League, in which the team itself played for a single season after the AFL emerged from bankruptcy and resumed operations. Following the 2010 season, the team moved to New Orleans, Louisiana for the 2011 AFL season and became a successor to the New Orleans VooDoo.

The Iowa Barnstormers are a professional indoor football team based in Des Moines, Iowa. They are currently members of the Indoor Football League (IFL). They play their home games at Wells Fargo Arena, known in indoor football circles as "The Well".

John Kaleo is a retired American football quarterback in the Arena Football League (AFL) for the Albany Firebirds (1993), Cleveland Thunderbolts (1994), St. Louis Stampede (1995–1996), Anaheim Piranhas (1997), San Jose SaberCats (1997), New England Sea Wolves (1999), Tampa Bay Storm, Austin Wranglers (2004), Los Angeles Avengers (2005), and Columbus Destroyers (2006). He won ArenaBowl XVII with the Storm in 2003. He retired from playing after the 2007 season, and is currently the Offensive Coordinator for the Tampa Bay Storm. Prior to this role, he was quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator at Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.

The Utah Blaze was a professional arena football team based in Salt Lake City, Utah and competed in the West Division of the Arena Football League. Home games were played at the EnergySolutions Arena. In 2013, the team did not submit proper documentation to remain in the AFL and the entire roster was reassigned to other teams in the league.

The Spokane Shock are a professional indoor American football team based in Spokane, Washington, playing their home games at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena. The team was initially a member of arenafootball2 (af2), the Shock won division titles in all four seasons and ArenaCups in 2006 and 2009 before they joined the Arena Football League (AFL) in its 2010 relaunch. The team advanced to the playoffs three times after joining the AFL, winning ArenaBowl XXIII in their first season, making them the only arena football franchise to win both the ArenaCup and the ArenaBowl.

The Cincinnati Swarm was a professional arena football franchise based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They were members of the Midwest Division of the National Conference of the af2. The Swarm joined the af2 as an expansion franchise in 2003 along with the Green Bay Blizzard. In 2003, the Swarm went 7–9, second in the Midwest Division. Despite their modest record, and finishing second in their division, they failed to make the playoffs. Cincinnati's attempt at arena football failed, and the Swarm folded after one year due to poor attendance. Ten years earlier, Cincinnati was home to the Cincinnati Rockers from 1992 to 1993, and like the Swarm, they folded shortly after their inception. Despite the Swarm's failure, the city of Cincinnati would get another af2 franchise in the form of the now defunct Cincinnati Jungle Kats, who suffered the same fate as the Swarm.

Christopher Jackson is an American football coach and former Arena football wide receiver of the Arena Football League (AFL). He began his football career in junior college at Orange Coast College before moving onto Washington State Cougars after one year.

Brett Dietz

Brett Dietz is American football coach and former quarterback. He is the head football coach at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana, a position he has held since 2020. Dietz played college football at Hanover College in Hanover, Indiana] nd professionally with several teams in the Arena Football League (AFL), Af2, and the National Indoor Football League (NIFL) including the Cincinnati Marshals, Louisville Fire, Tampa Bay Storm and California Redwoods.

Brian Partlow is a former arena football coach. He last served as the offensive coordinator of the Cleveland Gladiators in the Arena Football League. He is the former head coach for the Austin Wranglers where he had a career record of 4-12, including a 0-0 mark in the postseason. He spent the 2006, 2005, and 2004 seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Colorado Crush. The Crush won the ArenaBowl championship in 2005. Partlow led one of the top ranked offenses in the league helping WR Damien Harrell win offensive player of the year in 2005 and 2006 while breaking the single season record for receiving touchdowns. In 2003, 2002, 2001, and 2000 Partlow coached for the Indiana/Albany Firebirds in the Arena Football League spending two seasons as the offensive coordinator. Partlow also has experience coaching college football including stops at The College of William and Mary, Shenandoah College, and Randolph Macon College. Also, in 2006 he had a daughter named addison, and in 2008 he got a son named Tyler.

Lee Johnson is an arena football coach and former offensive lineman and defensive lineman. He played his college football at the University of Missouri, and was an AFL offensive lineman and defensive lineman from 1995 to 1996. He has been a football coach since 1997. After being the defensive coordinator for the Orlando Predators from 2010 to 2011, he became the San Antonio Talons head coach in 2011.

Robert Bees is a former American football quarterback who played two seasons in the Arena Football League (AFL) with the Oklahoma Wranglers, San Jose SaberCats and Buffalo Destroyers. He played college football at Rocky Mountain. He was also a member of the Richmond Speed, Billings Outlaws/Mavericks, Las Vegas Gladiators and Tulsa Talons.

Jeff Jarnigan is an assistant general manager and coach for the Arizona Rattlers of the Indoor Football League (IFL).

References

  1. Archived January 17, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  2. Swanson, Mark (2007-10-12). "Wranglers get official AFL nod". Austin American-Statesman . Retrieved 2007-10-16.[ dead link ]
  3. Mark Swanson. "Financial woes force Austin Wranglers to call it quits". Archived from the original on 2012-09-11. Retrieved 2008-09-27.