Spielman Takes Over As Arena Team Coach
The Columbus Destroyers of the Arena Football League announced today that Chris Spielman has assumed the role of head coach and general manager while former coach Earle Bruce has been named vice president of football operations.
Spielman served as the director of football operations and Bruce was general manager and head coach during the 2004 season as the club made its debut in Columbus after five seasons in Buffalo. The Destroyers finished with a 6-10 record.
"In Chris Spielman and Earle Bruce, the Columbus Destroyers have the best of both worlds when it comes to football executives," said JMAC president Mike Priest, representing club ownership. "Chris is a bright, young guy who played for Coach Bruce at Ohio State, learned from him during our inaugural season and is ready to make the transition and step to the forefront to lead this franchise.
“Nobody knows football and the AFL any better than Coach Bruce and he will continue to provide leadership and guidance to Chris and our organization in its efforts to win an ArenaBowl championship."
A native of Canton, Ohio, Spielman was a two-time All-American and three-time All-Big Ten linebacker at Ohio State from 1984-87. After being the 29th player selected in the 1988 National Football League Draft by the Detroit Lions, he enjoyed a successful career with the Lions, Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns. He was elected to the Pro Bowl on four occasions before retiring in 1999.
“Ever since I was young, I have had coaching in my blood," Spielman said in a team news release. “I know this is the right opportunity for me at this point in my life and look forward to the challenges that being a head coach in the Arena Football League will bring.
“I can’t think of a better place for me to begin my coaching career than in the city of Columbus. I am anxious to get to work and put together an extremely competitive team that will compete for an ArenaBowl championship.”
As the Destroyers' vice president of football operations, Bruce will be actively involved in advance scouting and personnel evaluation of Destroyers and AFL players and will continue to provide his input and expertise to the coaching staff. He will also play an important part of the franchise's business operations in the corporate community.
A member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Bruce led Ohio State to a 82-12-3 record, four Big Ten titles and eight bowl games in nine seasons as head coach from 1978-87. An Ohio State graduate and former assistant coach under Woody Hayes, he posted a 10-2 record and Tangerine Bowl win at Tampa in his first year as a head coach in 1972. He then turned a losing program at Iowa State into a winner before joining the Buckeyes in 1987. Bruce concluded his college coaching career with stints at Northern Iowa and Colorado State, where he took the Rams to their first bowl game in 42 years.
Overall from 1972-92, Bruce led his teams to a 154-90-2 record, including a 12-5 mark in bowl games, won nine or more games 10 times and had nine top 20 teams. His career in the AFL began in 1993-94 with the Cleveland Thunderbolts and included stints with the St. Louis Stampede and the Iowa Barnstormers (AF2) before his return to the league with the Destroyers last season.