I’m not sure how much credibility the newly formed Indoor Football League has. Indoor “professional” leagues form, fold and merge so often that they’re difficult to keep track of. I do know, however, that the IFL seems more professional than the American Professional Football League the Wild used to call home.
That’s why the IFL decision to let San Angelo quarterback Sonny Cumbie play last week against the Wichita Wild was so disappointing. The league’s credibility – whatever it is – took a clear hit. To review: Cumbie was the team’s coach who resigned and then announced he would play quarterback. Such a move is a clear violation of the intent of the league rule, designed to make sure teams don’t circumvent the salary cap. The IFL doesn’t want a coach making more than players make (200 clams a week) for a time, then becoming a player. It’s a necessary rule. What doesn’t make sense is why the IFL owners, who made the ultimate decision, caved and let San Angelo play Cumbie. I’m guessing the owners didn’t want another embarrassing controversy on their hands, so soon after the IFL made league power Sioux Falls forfeit five games for not securing proper workers’ comp coverage. (That it took the league so long to determine the coverage was lacking is another issue.) So Cumbie played, and the Wild still won, which seemed an appropriate result.
The biggest loser, though, was IFL “commissioner” Tommy Benizio. He decided that Cumbie shouldn’t play and explained the ruling to me in a way that made perfect sense. A day later, the IFL owners overruled the decision. Benizio explained that decision to me in a way that, well, didn’t make perfect sense. He played the good soldier and did his best, even saying that democracy is a good thing. I agree that it is. Clearly, though, Benizio, who seems earnest about doing his job, has no power whatsoever. In the future, he ought to simply run his decisions by all the league owners before announcing them. Or his title could be changed to IFL “spokesperson.”
On to football matters: I don’t know if tonight’s match-up with Sioux Falls is the biggest game in Wild history, as a team release put it, but it’s an important game. Based on Sioux Falls’ narrow victory in Wichita, the teams are fairly evenly matched. But I think Sioux Falls wins by 10-14 points tonight in Sioux Falls. Wild rookie QB Alex Melugin has been doing a solid job managing games in the Wild’s past two outings, both wins. But he’ll need to do more than manage tonight, and I’m not sure Sioux Falls will allow that to happen. A key stat to watch: Sioux Falls leads the IFL in sacks with 24, an average of three a game. The Wild has 10 in seven games. I will add this: If the Wild’s Clinton Solomon, the best receiver in the IFL, has a huge game (say 10 catches for 150 yards, three scores) the Wild has a shot.