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Arizona Wranglers
Helmet-wranglers
Founded 1983
Relocated 1985 Merger with Oklahoma Outlaws: Arizona Outlaws
Based in Tempe, Arizona, United States
Home field Sun Devil Stadium
League USFL
Conference Western
Division Pacific Division
Team History Arizona Wranglers (1983-1984)
Arizona Outlaws (1985)
Team Colors Flag Blue, Red, Copper, Yellow, White

                        

Head coaches 1983 Doug Shivley (4-14)
1984 George Allen (12-9)
Owner(s) 1983 Jim Joseph
1984 Dr. Ted Diethrich
Conference championships 1984
Division championships 1984

The Arizona Wranglers were a professional American Football team in the United States Football League in the mid 1980s. They played at Sun Devil Stadium on the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, a suburb of Phoenix.

HistoryEdit

FoundingEdit

The Wranglers were originally supposed to be in Los Angeles. However, the franchise's original owner, Alex Spanos, pulled out and bought into the NFL's San Diego Chargers. Jim Joseph, a Bay Area real estate executive and part-owner of the Oakland Invaders, won a coin flip and became the new owner of the Los Angeles franchise. A few months later, however, Bill Daniels and Alan Harmon were forced to move to Los Angeles after their initial bid for a team in San Diego fell through. The league forced Joseph to give up his franchise rights to Daniels and Harmon; it felt that Daniels and Harmon's roots in the cable television industry would be better suited for the country's second-largest market. Joseph finally settled on a move to Phoenix, bringing professional football to the city for the first time.

1983 seasonEdit

Joseph held fast to the USFL's original blueprint, aggressively marketing the team in Arizona while keeping tight controls on spending (including player salaries). The result was a young team with some talent at the skill positions, but fewer quality starters in the starting lineup and less depth of talent than their opponents. The Wranglers were quite competitive at first, posting a 4-4 record and moving into a 4 way tie for first in their division.

The Wranglers probably benefited most from the League's decision not to have a preseason. When the rest of their opponents reached midseason form, the undermanned Wrangler defense had trouble keeping the games within reach of the offense. The Wranglers only scored more than 23 points once all season --- in their week 2 upset of George Allen's Chicago Blitz.

Many argue the strains of playing football in the desert heat was the primary reason for the Wranglers' late season collapse. The Wranglers played their first 6 home games by April 23 and only played 3 of their last 9 games at home. Perhaps the young Wranglers collectively hit a rookie brick wall with the extended length of the USFL season. Perhaps they were simply at a talent and depth disadvantage that presented itself when the rest of the league rounded into mid-season form. Whatever the cause, The Wranglers lost their last 10 games, finishing in a tie for the worst record in the league. Joseph lost millions of dollars in the 1983 season and decided to sell.

The 1983 Wranglers featured the League's 6th ranked passer in rookie QB (Alan Risher), 12th ranked rusher in 3rd year vet Leon Calvin Murray, and the league's #7, #10, #11 receivers (1983 rookies TE Mark Keel, WR Jackie Flowers, and WR Neil Balholm, respectively). There defense started out good. The Wranglers signed San Francisco 49er ILB Jeff McIntyre and ILB Glen Perkins from the University of Arizona. But during pre-season McIntyre who had a personal services contract, asked to be traded because of contract issues with the owners and Glen Perkins knee injury slowed his play and development. Which explains why the Wrangler defense gave up a league worst 442 points.

Transaction with the Chicago BlitzEdit

In a stroke of luck for Joseph, Chicago Blitz owner Dr. Ted Diethrich, a Phoenix resident (he founded the Arizona Heart Institute), wanted a chance to move closer to his business interest. He was also angered at the Blitz' poor attendance despite fielding a team considered to be an NFL-quality unit.

As the result of a deal between the two men, Diethrich sold the Blitz to fellow surgeon James Hoffman, and then bought the Wranglers from Joseph. Hoffman and Diethrich then engineered a swap of assets in which virtually the entire Blitz organization—including most of the players and the entire coaching staff (led by head coach George Allen)--moved to Phoenix while the old Wranglers organization moved to Chicago. (The most notable exception was that Wrangler triggerman Alan Risher stayed in Arizona to back up Veteran Greg Landry). The deal transformed the Wranglers from a cellar-dweller to a powerhouse almost overnight. However, trading a team that had been, at worst, the third-best unit in the league for a lesser version of the 1983 Wranglers raised questions about the USFL's credibility --- especially in Chicago.

(While the USFL was active, the league considered the 1983 and 1984 Wranglers to be the same franchise, even though almost all the players were different.)

1984 seasonEdit

The 1984 Wranglers finished in a tie for first in the Western Division. In the playoffs, they upset the powerful Houston Gamblers, then defeated the Los Angeles Express for the conference title. The Wranglers, despite having the worse record of the two participating teams, got to host the 1984 Western Conference championship game because the Los Angeles Express could not use their home field, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, because of preparations for the 1984 Summer Olympics. To accommodate the oppressive summer heat in the state, as well as the ABC Sports television schedule, the game kicked off at 8:30 p.m. local time (10:30 p.m. Eastern time).

The Wranglers' run ended in the championship game with a 23-3 defeat by the Philadelphia Stars. QB Greg Landry retired after the season.

The Wranglers intended to change to Red jerseys for the 1984 season, but the league office had put in a rule that stated any team changing jersey colors (in this case, blue to red) had to wait one season before doing so. The Wranglers had intended to start wearing the red jerseys starting in the '85 season, but they ended up merging with the Oklahoma Outlaws and became the Arizona Outlaws.[citation needed]

1984 Arizona Wranglers RosterEdit

(Games Played/Games Started in parenthesis), Height, Weight, Age, College

1. MINNIFIELD, Frank CB (18/15), 5.09, 180, 24, Ohio State; 38 tkl, 13 ast, 7 PDs, 2 FR, 4 ICs/74 yds

2. JOHNSON, Trumaine WR (18/18), 6.03, 193, 23, Grambling; 90 receptions, 1,269 yds, 14.1 avg, 13 TDs

3. CORRAL, Frank K/P (18/0), 6.02, 210, 28, UCLA; 11/21 FGM, 63/65 PATs, 96 pts, 69 punts, 41.4 avg, 58 long, 6 TB, 17 In-20

7. RISHER, Alan QB (18/0), 6.02, 190, 23, Louisiana State; 64/104, 61.5%, 728 yds, 3 TDs, 7 ICs

8. PORRAS, Tom QB (IA/18G), 6.02, 193, 26, Washington

11. LANDRY, Greg QB (18/18), 6.04, 207, 37, Massachusetts; 283/449, 63.0%, 3,534 yds, 26 TDs, 15ICs

20. DRAIN, Selwyn FS (15/0), 6.00, 190, 22, Ball State; 13 tkl, 3 ast, 2 FR

21. DENNISON, Doug RB (13/0), 6.01, 200, 32, Kutztown State, 8 car., 48 yds, 1 TD, 30 rec., 244 yds

22. SHIELDS, Lance CB (18/6), 6.00, 175, 23, Drake; 27 tkl, 10 ast, 2 PDs

24. JOHNSON, Randy RB (7/0), 5.11, 205, 21, Texas-Arlington; 13 car., 53 yds

25. BROWN, Eddie SS (16/4), 5.11, 190, 31, Tennessee; 31 tlk, 17 ast, 4 PDs, 1 FR, 2 INT, 20 PR, 11.0 avg.

27. BRADLEY, Luther FS (18/18), 6.03, 197, 28, Notre Dame;

28. SCHWARTZ, Don SS (IA/2G), 6.01, 195, 28, Washington State

29. WALTON, Ted SS (11/1), 5.10, 198, 26, Connecticut

32. ALLEN, Carl CB (11/11), 6.00, 175, 28, Southern Mississippi

33. LONG, Kevin FB (18/18), 6.01, 219, 29, South Carolina

40. LAIRD, Bruce SS (13/13), 6.01, 195, 33, American International

42. CLARK, Allan RB (18/0), 5.10, 190, 26, Northern Arizona

43. BOATNER, Mack FB (18/0), 6.00, 220, 25, Southeastern State (La.)

44. SANCHEZ, Lupe CB (9/4), 5.10, 197, 22, UCLA

46. SPENCER, Tim RB (18/18), 6.01, 216, 23, Ohio State

50. OHTON, Dave LS (5/0), 5.10, 220, 22, Arizona State

51. SULLIVAN, Gerry C (18/18), 6.04, 250, 31, Illinois

52. WHITE, Stan LB (18/18), 6.01, 225, 34, Ohio State

53. MELONTREE, Andy LB (18/0), 6.03, 214, 26, Baylor

54. CASEY, Derrick LB (5/0), 6.01, 230, 23, San Francisco State

55. FAHNHORST, Jim LB (18/18), 6.04, 230, 25, Minnesota

56. SMITH, Ed LB (18/18), 6.02, 218, 26, Vanderbilt

57. FIELD, Doak LB (14/0), 6.02, 224, 25, Baylor

58. GHEESLING, Bruce LB (18/0), 6.01, 212, 23, Furman

59. PIETTE, Tom LS (17/0), 6.04, 243, 23, Michigan State

61. THAYER, Tom G (16/16), 6.04, 261, 22, Notre Dame

62. KEHR, Rick G (IA/2G), 6.03, 270, 24, Carthage

63. BUBEN, Mark DE (18/1), 6.03, 260, 27, Tufts

64. LEE, John DE (18/17), 6.02, 261, 31, Nebraska

65. KIEWEL, Jeff G (IA/18G), 6.04, 254, 23, Arizona

67. STADNIK, John T (13/10), 6.04, 278, 24, Western Illinois

68. HUFFMAN, David G (18/18), 6.07, 255, 26, Notre Dame

70. LATHROP, Kit DT (18/18), 6.04, 254, 27, Arizona State

71. LORCH, Karl DE (18/18), 6.04, 235, 33, Southern California

72. HICKMAN, Dallas DE (14/0), 6.06, 234, 28, Alabama A&M

73. STEVENSON, Mark G (IA/3G), 6.03, 276, 28, Western Illinois

74. EHRMANN, Joe DT (14/9), 6.03, 248, 34, Syracuse

75. TAYLOR, Rob T (18/18), 6.06, 280, 23, Northwestern

76. GIDDENS, Frank T (15/8), 6.07, 320, 24, New Mexico

77. THOMAS, Todd T/LS (5/0), 6.06, 270, 24, North Dakota

79. SMITH, Robert DE (4/0), 6.07, 256, 22, Grambling

80. HILL, Al (IA/8G), 6.03, 205, 24, Arizona

81. WRIGHTMAN, Tim TE (IA/9G), 6.03, 225, 24, UCLA

82. DOUGLAS, Larry WR (16/2), 6.01, 192, 26, Southern

83. LOCKLIN, Kerry TE (2/0), 6.04, 235, 30, Washington

85. BROWN, Clay TE (2/0), 6.03, 220, 25, Brigham Young

85. TOLBERT, Mark WR (10/0), 5.09, 175, 25, Cal-Poly Pomona

86. RICKER, Paul TE (18/18), 6.03, 233, 27, Norwich

87. COZEN, Doug TE (4/0), 6.04, 241, 26, Illinois

88. BUGGS, Wamon WR (4/4), 6.02, 198, 23, Vanderbilt

89. WILLIS, Lenny WR (18/14), 5.11, 188, 30, Ohio State

91. EPPS, Nick DE (4/0), 6.03, 247, 21, Illinois

99. YOUNG, Wilbur DT (15/9), 6.06, 285, 34, William Penn

HEAD COACH: GEORGE ALLEN

Quarterbacks Coach: Roman Gabriel

Offensive Line: John Payne

Secondary: Donald "Deek" Pollard

Defensive Line: John Teerlinck

Offensive Backs: Ray Wietecha

Strength & Conditioning: Warren Anderson

Merger with the Oklahoma OutlawsEdit

Despite making it to the Championship game, Diethrich was bleeding in red ink. He expected his all-star team's attendance to be much greater than the 25,776 fans per game the no-name Wranglers averaged in 1983. Despite fielding a winning team, the Wranglers' 1984 attendance figures (25,568 fans per game) were lower than the 1983 numbers, as fans were slow to warm to the new players. Diethrich sold the assets of the Wranglers to Oklahoma Outlaws owner William Tatham. Tatham was looking for a larger market with an acceptable stadium. Tatham relocated the Outlaws to Arizona for the 1985 season, merging the rosters into the Arizona Outlaws.

Single season leadersEdit

Rushing Yards: 1207 (1984), Tim Spencer

Receiving Yards: 1258 (1984), Trumaine Johnson

Passing Yards: 3534 (1984), Greg Landry

Season-by-seasonEdit

Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Season W L T Finish Playoff results
1983 4 140 4th Pacific -
1984 10 8 0 2nd WC Pacific Won Divisional (Houston)
Won Conference (Los Angeles)
Lost USFL championship (Philadelphia)
Totals 16 23 0 (including playoffs)

Head coachesEdit

External linksEdit

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