BLOOMINGTON — The Bloomington Edge and head coach Ameer Ismail mutually have agreed to part ways after one season.
Ismail said he and team owner Omar Khokhar had “different visions” but still share “a great relationship and mutual respect.”
“The organization wishes me the most success and I wish them the most success,” said Ismail, who is exploring coaching opportunities in more advanced indoor leagues and has an offer to return to China, where he played last fall.
“The purpose of our franchise is to highlight talent so that it can move upward into higher leagues, and that applies to both players and coaches,” said Khokhar. “A football talent like Coach Ismail, we were fortunate we had him for the time we did and he’s moving on to other opportunities just like we want for all our players.”
With Ismail as a rookie coach, the Edge got off to a 4-1 start this season before finishing at 7-5 and making the Champions Indoor Football playoffs for a second straight season. They suffered a 43-30 playoff loss at Omaha, which faces Texas on Friday in Champions Bowl III.
“I think our on-the-field product, we started off well with a good foundation that I think set us up for a playoff berth despite some adversity at the end,” said Khokhar.
“It doesn’t take away from a very successful season even though the outcome wasn’t what was desired from the team, myself and the organization,” said Ismail. “We didn’t put our best foot forward in the playoff game. It was definitely a missed opportunity.”
Khokhar said the team hopes to have a new head coach in place within four to six weeks.
“Our search is going to be primarily focused on the abundance of coaching talent we have here locally,” he said. “We’re looking at coaches who can deliver an exceptional product both on and off the field.”
Ismail was the indoor football franchise’s fifth coach in 12 seasons, following Ted Schmitz (20-19 in two stints totaling 2½ seasons), Kenton Carr (36-31 in two stints, 4½ seasons), Mike Murray (9-6 in 2011) and John Johnson (19-16 in three seasons).
“At the end of the day, my job is to win games and give the players as many tools and resources as possible to help them get to the next level as well,” Ismail said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job with what we were given.”
A former linebacker with the Edge, Ismail said he learned a lot in his first season as a head coach.
“It was a unique opportunity coming in, getting my first head coaching job," he said. "I made some mistakes along the way, which is to be expected and I definitely learned from those. I’m looking forward to becoming a better coach in the future, wherever that may lead.”
The Edge drew an average crowd of 1,250 in six home games this season, the franchise’s second with Khokhar and his wife, Nargis, running the team. Omar Khokhar said he remains committed to making the Edge a success.
“No question about that,” he said. “We’re here for the community; this is a community based team and it’s important that from ownership, coaching and players we are committed to the community and to all of our partners to ensure that this team is a proud reflection of our city.”