With the NFL in a lockout, I got to thinking about where we would get our football fix should the NFL lose regular season action. College football has been brought up as an option. Other options include the Canadian Football League and the Arena League, but those operate under a different set of rules. That brings me to a league that provides a different competition level than college, while operating more or less under the same rules as the traditional NFL. This Poll of the Day is a little different than most, so follow me past the jump as I look at both sides of the coin: Is, or can, the United Football League be a viable NFL substitute if the lockout persists?
There's no odd yo-yo motion, no "three downs," no 50-yard field with walls and nets. The only substantial changes from the NFL we know and love are as follows: No tuck rule, no intentional grounding, mandatory four rushing down linemen with up to two additional pass-rushers, "tasteful" celebrations, a replay official in the Replay Booth, and mandatory overtime possession. The league also caters to those who want the on-field experience by wiring coaches and tapping into coach-to-quarterback communications on tape-delay; you know, just in case the other team has an employee watching the game.
Familiar Faces and Competition
A good majority of the players in the UFL are players with some NFL experience, including Josh Beekman, Brooks Bollinger, Michael Clayton, Daunte Culpepper, Dusty Dvoracek, Cato June, Josh McCown, Shane Olivea, Stuart Schweigert (no relation) and Marcel Shipp. Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State star, is also in the UFL. This past week, the UFL announced the hiring of Jerry Glanville as the coach of the Hartford Colonials and Marty Schottenheimer as the coach/GM of the Virginia Destroyers. That's to say nothing of Jim Fassell coaching the Las Vegas Locomotives.
The UFL also has only five teams, which doesn't leave any room for diluted rosters. While there is clearly a dropoff in talent, with the majority of the better players going on to the NFL draft, there are plenty of players that accept this level of play, so there is talent in the league. Some might view the UFL as "scabs" in this scenario, but unlike the strike year, this is a league that's had a couple years now to solidify rosters and coaches - quality of play would be above that of scabs.
Right Place, Right Time?
The UFL has been in existence for two years. As expected, most attention is on the NFL, with the UFL being a minor, shoved-out-of-the-spotlight sideshow. However, with the uncertainty currently in the NFL and the UFL being a football league that's actually in business (and currently possibly looking at a new TV deal with either USA or Spike TV), there may be a niche that the UFL fits into as a football league. At worst, the UFL re-ups with current television hookup Versus, which has been gradually spreading out.
There are currently only five teams in the UFL: Las Vegas, Hartford, Omaha, Sacramento and Virginia, meaning the emotional attachment that goes with having a local team just isn't there for the majority of viewers.
Quality of Play and Star Power
It's not the NFL, so the talent isn't at the same level that we've come to expect from a professional football league. Consequently, the big-names that we've all come to recognize won't be there either. There is a downturn that would require some getting-used-to.
It's only a couple of cons that I can think of, but I think those would be some very large handicaps to overcome.
So, now that I've put that out there, what do you think, WCG? Would the UFL have a shot as the primary professional league should the lockout kill regular season action? Any other pros or cons you want to throw out there?