from the aal commissioner's office
With only 1 week left in the AAL season, there are still 6 teams still fighting for 4 playoff positions. 1st and 2 place are too close to call with both Richmond and Atlanta in a dead heat with Atlanta having one game left at the Ga. Doom.
The Ga. Doom is currently in 3rd but a loss next weekend against Atlanta could put them 4-way tie fighting for the last 2 playoff spots (to be decided by tie breakers.
The Cape Fear Heroes are currently 4th with the tiebreaker over the Carolina Energy
The Carolina Energy is currently in 5th with a good shot to move up to 3rd or 4th (depending on tiebreakers)
The New Jersey Flight with a win could move up with for a shot at either the 3rd or 4th playoff spot
Rochester is just hovering right below and is in the thick of things
Carolina Energy -45
Atlanta Havoc - 41
Richmond Roughriders - 70
High Country Grizzlies - 62
Austin Wild - 6
Upstate Dragons - 0
AAL Tiebreaking Procedures
The four postseason participants from each conference are seeded as follows: The league champion with the best record. The league team with the second-best record. The league team with the third-best record. The League team with the fourth-best record.
NOTE: Tie games count as one-half win and one-half loss for both clubs.
TO BREAK A TIE WITHIN THE AAL
If, at the end of the regular season, two or more clubs in the league finish with identical won-lost-tied percentages, the following steps will be taken until a champion is determined.
Two Clubs Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the league.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference. Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.
Best combined ranking among league teams in points scored and points allowed.
Best combined ranking among all teams in points scored and points allowed.
Best net points in common games.
Best net points in all games.
Best net touchdowns in all games.
Coin toss Three or More Clubs
the aal forfeit ruling
the havoc vs. the heroes ends in a split decision
by Jay Luster
“Atlanta did everything they could to get ready to play, but the arena managers changed the parameters”
CEO American Arena League
Saturday, May 26, fans of the AAL Atlanta Havoc were expecting their team to face the Cape Fear Heroes. Anticipating the scheduled 7pm kickoff, they began tailgating outside of the arena at Buford, Georgia around 6pm. The stadium, derided by opponents as just a high school gymnasium, is actually a two-year-old 5500 seat facility with a multi-million dollar Jumbotron that most indoor football teams would die for. This past Saturday, the arena, and its Jumbotron became the flashpoints of a controversy that will affect the league all the way through its championship game.
On Friday 25 May, the Buford high-school graduation commencement was relocated into the stadium because of rain. The ceremony prevented the Havoc from starting the setup process until late that evening. Working through the night, the team managed to get everything put together except for the goal posts and the nets protecting the expensive scoreboard from getting hit and possibly broken by stray footballs. Around 1pm on the 26th, the team realized they might not have the field ready to go on time, so they contacted AAL President Jack Bowman. He rushed over to the stadium to assess the situation. After conferring with the Havoc, the Cape Fear Heroes, and the Buford School Superintendent, everyone agreed the best solution was for the kickoff to be delayed for an hour. Setting it back until 8pm was a bit of a disappointment to the fans, but since the team had not begun game-day ticket sales yet, there wasn’t much else to do except go back to drinking beer and playing cornhole.
Around 7pm, the originally scheduled kickoff time the nets, hung exactly the same way as in all prior games, was ready and the school system supervisor on site had a high school kid throw balls at the scoreboard to test them. The ball hit the nets and the scoreboard, and the Superintendent said he was not satisfied. His solution was to have the team bring the nets down and have the team figure out a way to rehang them to his satisfaction. Doing that would take several hours and with the kickoff now less than an hour away, a different solution needed to be found. The offer was made to limit the kicking game to the outside hashes, and that solution was rejected by Cape Fear. With a better than average kicker and a dangerous kick returner, their special teams were integral to their game planning. They felt losing it would put them at a distinct disadvantage. Considering they were on the road playing one of the two best teams in the league they had no desire to give up weapons that had kept them in, and won, games for them. Imagine what the early 2000’s New England Patriots would have been like without Adam Vinatieri, and you begin to understand their mindset. Another complicating factor is the AAL rulebook which states: Both teams will be able to warm up 75 minutes before the contest and must leave the game field 30 minutes before the kickoff for promotional events and Kickers may warm up 90 minutes prior to kickoff. In other words, with a scheduled 8pm kickoff time, the kickers would be allowed to take the field at 6:30pm and the rest of the players at 6:45pm. The Havoc, to hang the nets, were using a commercial-grade lift capable of reaching the roof of the building 50 feet in the air. That piece of equipment was still on the field and would need to be moved around in order to hang the goal posts and then removed from the field. With the lift still in the way, AAL President Jack Bowman wasn’t going to allow anyone onto the field. By now, it was after 7:20pm and while it is possible, the Havoc might have had the goalposts hung before 8pm, it didn’t leave enough time for the teams to take the field for the allotted warm-up time. If that rule was obeyed, then kickoff wouldn’t occur until 9:30pm.
The Havoc were ready to go as were the Cape Fear players, but there was another problem, There is a federal regulation called the Hours of Service which governs the amount of time someone can work in safety-sensitive jobs. The bus driver is accountable to these rules. The drive from Buford to Fayetteville is around 6.5 hours, which would easily fit into the allowable work time, but whatever buffer had been available to the driver, was gone. The game delay meant he wouldn’t have time to drive the team home without taking a federally mandated rest period. Without enough work time available the Heroes would have to stay in a hotel another night. Arena football teams pay the bill for almost everything on a road trip. Fifteen hotel rooms, plus meals, plus the bus and the driver would have added several thousand dollars and effectively double the outlay of money already accrued by the Cape Fear owner. Considering it was Memorial Day weekend the odds of keeping their hotel or finding another one with a large enough block of rooms was out of the question. All things considered, the Heroes could not stay and as Bowman pointed out and Tony Zefiretto confirmed; Cape Fear was well within their rights to leave. The Havoc were in violation of league rules, and the league considered the game a forfeit.
Atlanta was understandably upset. They had been given an extra hour to prepare for kickoff, and they still had more time left on the countdown clock. They had decided to go outside for warm-ups and, they had asked the visitors to do the same. The Heroes refused and though, to outsiders it seems like they were being overly picky, they were still well within the stated rules of the AAL. Would an NFL team that played in a dome ask the visitor to go warm up on the practice field behind the stadium? Furthermore, the delay was exacerbated by the School Superintendent insisting the change to the way the scoreboard is protected. It was pointed out that Atlanta had insurance, and they would gladly cover any damages to the equipment. Unfortunately, the Representative said no. It’s been suggested, but not corroborated, there may have already been tension between the previous team owner and the school helping to drive their decision-making process. With everyone involved, feeling let down and situation being what it was, Bowman saw no other options than to call the game a forfeit.
The next-day Atlanta filed a protest with the league. Since Jack Bowman was the one who made the ruling, the responsibility for deciding the appeal fell to Tony Zefiretto. Everyone, except Atlanta, assumed it was a foregone conclusion the forfeit would be upheld. A couple of days later, Zefiretto handed down his decision, and it kicked off another round of criticism and recriminations. The ruling stated the Cape Fear Heroes would be awarded the win for the forfeit, but Atlanta would not be charged for the loss. Fans and other league owners were bewildered by a ruling that, on the surface, seemed nonsensical. However, once you dig into it, the judgment isn’t as ridiculous as it seems at a cursory glance. Cape Fear was right; the Havoc did not fulfill their responsibilities as the host team. All mitigating factors aside, Cape Fear deserved their W and got it. Atlanta, on the other hand, the league reasoned, had done everything in their power to fulfill their responsibilities. Though they were technically in violation of the rules, those violations occurred due to influences beyond their control. Inclement weather forced the high-school graduation inside, and that foreshortened their prep time. Then the School Board changed the rules about the nets which created a further delay. Punishing them for other people's mistakes seemed unreasonable and Zefiretto was convinced if the Superintendent had kept his word and the rain had held off for a few more hours, none of this would have happened.
It’s easy for outsiders to say the Havoc should have to take the L or that Cape Fear shouldn’t have left, but there are enough reasons for the league to have made this unconventional judgment. One way or the other, the ruling will stand, and the only real question is how it affects the rest of the schedule and league. Each team needs to play 8 league games, and the current standings are Atlanta at 6-0, Richmond at 6-1. Georgia is 5-2. Cape Fear and Carolina are 5-3 and New Jersey is 4-3. Atlanta and Richmond have clinched playoff spots and if Georgia wins they are in. The Roughriders will finish their league schedule this Saturday at home with the High Country Grizzlies. The Havoc has two games, both on the road. This weekend they will be in Charlotte to play the Carolina Energy and next weekend they will be in Macon to play the Georgia Doom. The game with Atlanta will finish Georgia’s schedule. The New Jersey Flight are hosting the New England Cavalry to finish out their league schedule and though the Cavalry is a league affiliate and not a member team, the Flight’s schedule, more than anyone else's, has been affected by the preseason folding of both Vermont and Glens Falls. It is what it is. Both Cape Fear and Carolina are 5-3, and their league schedules are finished. So what about the Tiebreakers? If the Havoc wins out they are the #1 seed throughout the playoffs, but even if they lose both of their final games they are still in the tournament. Richmond has a chance to displace the Havoc as the #1 seed, but they need the Havoc to cooperate. For Georgia, if they win they’re in. If New Jersey wins it will put them in a 3-way tie with Cape Fear and Carolina, and it will come down to the tiebreaker system. That system has been published twice on the arenafootballinsider.com website, and if you want to try to figure out all the permutations feel free.
Rules adopted by the league to enhance the game: The TE rule is in, so look for the big guys up front to help keep the chains moving.
Either LB can blitz, but only one per play. The Jack does not have to line up over the TE, and he can drop back 6 yards and cover wall to wall.
Another great addition is the Defensive Lineman can twist on the pass rush. In most leagues the DL have to stay in their own lane, now AAL linemen can rush whatever gap they like. Add to that a blitzing LB and the pressure on the QB to get rid of the ball will be ratcheted up from what fans are used to seeing.
Perhaps the most interesting rule change is on the kick-off. Without AFL nets, most arena leagues feature the Uno. Kick it through the uprights on a kickoff and you're awarded a point. The rule provides an advantage to teams with a high skilled kicker. Now, if your kicker can't boom it over the back wall or put it through the uprights they can kick a squibbler into the opponents endzone and try for a touchback. A successful TB is an Uno. The rule will put a stronger emphasis on special teams which should make the game more fun for the fans.