Source: Rob Keefe To Be Named Next Coach of Orlando Predators
ORLANDO - In their first 18 years of existence, the Orlando Predators only had three coaches, Perry Moss, Fran Papasedero and Jay Gruden. They are set to name their fourth head coach in the last five seasons, as Rob Keefe is expected to be named the next coach of the team, according to multiple sources.
The news comes in the midst of league's offseason meetings in Chicago. Just in the last five months, there have been gobs of changes in the City Beautiful.
News broke that the relationship between the Amway Center and the Predators was strained, as the city was set to sue the team in July. It was later shown that, according to City of Orlando records, there were only an average of 5,878 fans per game through the turnstiles at the Amway Center, 122 fans per game fewer than what the lease with the city and the Amway called for, effectively terminating relations with the Predators at the end of the 2013 season. The Preds announced an average of 11,838 fans per home game this year.
Within just a few days of this unfolding, Managing Partner Brett Bouchy left the team, ultimately to take a similar role in one of the league's newest franchises, the LA KISS. David Pearsall has taken over as the managing partner of the team.
Doug Plank, the head coach of the team in 2013, resigned his post in October, setting off a countrywide search for the best man to lead this team. The club wasn't looking all that far for a coach, as it was clear from the beginning that there were plenty of candidates that had ties to the Predators in the past. Kenny McEntyre reportedly emerged as a frontrunner for the job.
With the Amway Center out of the equation, the Predators officially moved to CFE Arena on the campus of UCF Arena last week, and just this week, the team announced plans to move its offices and practice facilities to nearby Eatonville.
With a home venue and new office and practice facilities now decided, the only move that the franchise needed to make operationally speaking, was to pick a head coach. According to multiple sources, Keefe is at the league meetings and introduced himself as the head coach of the Orlando Predators "pending approval."
Keefe was with the Predators as the team's offensive coordinator briefly in 2012. He lasted four games before being fired by then head coach, Brett Munsey. Orlando averaged just 33.3 points per game in those four games. He moved on to the Utah Blaze later that season to be the team's defensive coordinator, and he became the most successful defensive coach the franchise ever had. Always known for their lackluster defense, the Blaze turned into a respectable unit for the end of 2012, allowing 51.0 points per game in the second half of the campaign under Keefe's direction. Last season though, Utah had the worst defense in the National Conference, allowing 55.4 points per game.
Prior to 2012, Keefe was the head coach for the Spokane Shock. He led the team to the ArenaBowl XXIII title, beating the Tampa Bay Storm 69-57. However, the next season, the Shock went just 9-9, and though they did get into the playoffs, they were ousted by the eventual ArenaBowl runners up, the Arizona Rattlers 62-33.
Keefe has a heck of a lot of work to do in a hurry. He first needs to assemble a coaching staff, and then needs to put together a team. Whereas virtually every other team has been making transactions left and right, Orlando hasn't signed a single player since October 8th, just prior to when Plank retired.