Mike Martz to coach San Diego team in new football league

Offensive coordinator Mike Martz of the Chicago Bears watches warm-ups before a game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field on September 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Packers defeated the Bears 27-17. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO — Former St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz was introduced Thursday as the coach of San Diego’s team in the Alliance of American Football.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to get back on the sidelines in my hometown of San Diego,” Martz, a graduate of San Diego’s James Madison High School, said a news conference at San Diego County Credit Union Stadium where the team will play.

“This city is very special to me. It’s where I grew up, started my collegiate career and met and married my wife,” he said. “I would love nothing more than to bring a championship here.”

Martz’s first college coaching position was as an assistant coach at San Diego Mesa College.

Martz coached the Rams from 2000-2005, guiding the team to a 53-32 record, including a berth in Super Bowl XXXVI, where the Rams were upset by the New England Patriots.

After being fired by the Rams, Martz was the offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions from 2006-2007, San Francisco 49ers in 2008 and Chicago Bears from 2010-11.

Before becoming the Rams coach, Martz was the offensive coordinator in the 1999 season when the team won Super Bowl XXXIV. He had been the quarterbacks coach from 1992-94 when the Rams played at Anaheim Stadium and receivers coach in 1995 and 1996, their first two seasons in St. Louis.

Martz was the Washington Redskins quarterbacks coach in 1997 and 1998.

Martz began his coaching career in 1973 at Bullard High School in Fresno. After coaching at San Diego Mesa College, Martz coached at San Jose State, Santa Ana College, Fresno State, the University of the Pacific, the University of Minnesota and Arizona State.

The league announced on Tuesday that San Diego would have a team in the eight-team league set to begin play Feb. 9.

“From the moment Bill Polian and I began discussing our vision for The Alliance, a pro football league founded on a commitment to players, fans and the game, San Diego was one of the first markets we discussed because of the city’s love for the game,” said Charlie Ebersol, a co-founder of the league and its CEO.

“San Diego has a proven fan base that has displayed unwavering support and enthusiasm for their professional and collegiate football teams. Forty-thousand-plus fans pour into SDCCU Stadium for Aztecs games. We’re excited to bring more football here and become ingrained in this community.”

Fans may make $50 deposits for season tickets by calling 833-AAF-2019 or online at AAF.com.

Ticket pricing and seat locations for Alliance San Diego home games will be released later this summer. The league has committed to making a limited number of $35 sideline seats available for purchase, said Ebersol, a television and movie producer who is the son of TV executive Dick Ebersol and actress Susan Saint James.

“The Alliance of American Football represents a fundamental shift in the way we approach professional sports,” he said. “We believe fans and players are what’s most important, so our approach is simple — we’ve created an alliance where fans and players share in the success of their teams. Players have our commitment that we will seek the highest degree of safety and our support as we continue to invest in their success off the field with post-football career scholarships and financial wellness programs.”

The league will have a bonus structure based on victories, statistical milestones and fan engagement. Players will receive post-football scholarships for postsecondary education for every year played in the league and comprehensive post-football career planning and counseling.

Fans will be able to stream games via a free app “while accessing integrated fantasy options with real rewards, for themselves and the players they are cheering on,” according to the league.

The league’s opener and championship game will be televised by CBS. A game will be carried each week by cable’s CBS Sports Network.

The league will operate under a single-entity structure instead of having individuals own teams. The other cities to be awarded teams are Atlanta, Memphis, Tennessee, Orlando, Florida, Phoenix and Salt Lake City.

The other two cities will be announced over the next two weeks, Ebersol said.

Teams will have 50-player rosters, built primarily through regionally based allocation which will be made in the fall. Players will be available in markets near where they played in the NFL or college.

“There is a significant amount of football talent looking to begin or extend their professional careers,” said Polian, a co-founder of the league and its head of football and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “The Alliance will provide those players with a new opportunity to compete at a high level.”

In attempt to increase player safety, the league will not have kickoffs. Instead, teams will start with the ball on their own 25-yard lines to start a game or second half or after allowing a score. Instead of an onside kick, the trailing team will receive the ball on its own 35-yard line, facing fourth down and 10.

To improve the on-field product and telecasts, the league will have a shorter play clock and fewer commercial breaks to create shorter games. Extra- point kicks will be eliminated, with teams required to attempt two-point conversions after every touchdown.