AFL Press Release
PORTLAND – The Arena Football League management announced that veteran coach Ron James will assume the role of head coach and general manager for the Portland organization, effective immediately. With this move, the AFL Board of Directors have released Andy Olson and his staff from their contractual obligations in an effort to have a fresh start with the organization.
“We would like to thank Terry Emmert and the Emmert family for all of the contributions they made to bring Arena Football to Portland and to Andy Olson and his staff for their efforts in managing the team during this process,” said AFL Commissioner Scott C. Butera.
James brings 30 years of coaching experience with him to Portland, most recently acting as the defensive coordinator for theCleveland Gladiators during the 2015 season. The 2012 AFL Head Coach of the Year has spent 19 seasons as a coach, coordinator, or assistant in the Arena Football League, including seven seasons as a head coach with the Las Vegas Gladiators (2005-2006), Utah Blaze (2010-2013), and Pittsburgh Power (2014). James led both the Blaze (12-6, 2012) and the Power (15-2, 2014) to franchise record regular season win totals.
“I am excited and anxious to get back on the sidelines,” James stated about his appointment. “I feel Portland is a great community, and I see this chance as a great opportunity to help cement the team in the community.”
An offensive lineman for Siena College (NY) from 1982-1985, James began his coaching career in 1986, when he was introduced as Siena’s linebackers coach. He began his Arena Football League career three years later, acting as an assistant for the Albany Firebirds from 1990 to 1991. James would return to the college coaching ranks following his two seasons in Albany, eventually serving as the offensive line coach for West Point from 1997-1998.
James would return to the AFL coaching ranks in 1999 with the Houston ThunderBears, before settling in as the assistant head coach for the Las Vegas Gladiators three years later. James would spend the next five seasons in Las Vegas, with the Gladiators eventually promoting him to head coach in 2005, a year in which the Gladiators led the AFL in both total offense and total defense. James would lead the Gladiators to 14 different team records in his two seasons at the helm, including new franchise season-highs for passing yards (4,664) and total yards (4,996). James would then part ways with the Gladiators when the team sealed it’s move to Cleveland.
James began his time with the Utah Blaze in 2007, eventually gaining promotion to head coach in 2010. James guided Utah to their best season in team history in 2012, with a 12-6 record, garnering honors as the AFL Head Coach of the Year. James would later lead the Pittsburgh Power to a 15-2 record in 2014, having taken over the head coaching position following the first game of the season. That season, the Pittsburgh defense led the AFL in interceptions with 36, was second in scoring defense at 43.2 points allowed per game, and was third in the League in total defense.