USFL Starts up soon! Here's what you should know.

Tue, Mar 29, 2022

When will the season begin, and can I watch? 
The 2022 USFL season starts on the 16th of April and regular season will wrap up in mid June, followed up with playoffs. Game #1 on the schedule is the New Jersey Generals taking on the Birmingham Stallions, with kickoff set at 7:30 PM EST. It will be airing on both NBC and FOX, which will make this game the first scheduled sporting event to air on competing broadcast networks since Super Bowl I in 1967, which was shown on both CBS and NBC. "The first game played in any new league is itself historical, and having the USFL’s inaugural game simulcast by NBC and FOX makes it even more so," said FOX Sports CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks. "It’s rare when two competitors can come together and see how cooperation can lead to long-term benefit." It has been reported that FOX invested 200 million into USFL. Broadcasting partnerships will be with each individual team, which is a good look for things to come in this league. FOX is also attempting to get an extra $250 million from outside investing to get the league off the ground. Sounds like this league is serious about staying around. Every single game will be televised.

How many teams?
The USFL will have eight teams that are split into two divisions. North and South. The schedule is ten games for each team, where each team will play divisional opponents twice, and the other division once. I like the idea of a short season with fewer teams. It is easier to watch all of the action since the times do not overlap, like the NFL and other sports. And it's easier for casual sports fans to become more invested with all games being televised, and the season only lasting a few months. With fewer teams there could be a few more immediate rivalries and fans could possibly grow a closer personal connection to the teams. I went to purchase tickets and they are starting out around $21 and go up as the seats get better. Some sites have it starting around $10 per ticket for GA. Affordability will be a plus

Who are the teams and coaches?
The North Division features the New Jersey Generals, coached by Mike Riley. The Michigan Panthers, coached by Jeff Fisher. The Pittsburgh Maulers, coached by Kirby Wilson. The Philadelphia Stars make up the fourth team in the North, coached by Bart Andrus. The South Division has the Houston Gamblers, coached by Kevin Sumlin. The Birmingham Stallions, coached by Skip Holtz. The Tampa Bay Bandits, coached by Todd Haley. The New Orleans Breakers make up the fourth team in the South, coached by Larry Fedora.

Where will regular-season games be played?
All eight teams will be playing in Birmingham Alabama, at both Legion Field and Protective Stadium. The playoff games for USFL will be played in Canton, Ohio. The Stadium will be Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, which seats 20,000 and is adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The semifinal games are on Saturday, June 25, and will feature the top two teams in each division. The Championship Game will be played Sunday, July 3.

Who will be officiating?
The USFL will be made up of 35 officials. 32 of whom are members of the NFL's Officiating Development Program, which provides opportunities for college-level officials who are ready to advance to professional football. There will be five crews with seven officials. 33 of the 35 USFL officials have college football experience, having worked in Power Five Conferences (SEC, ACC, Big Ten, PAC 12, Big 12). "The USFL will have the best officials not currently in the NFL," said Mike Pereira, USFL Head of Officiating. "Our association with the NFL Officiating Department clearly serves the USFL by supplying officials who are ready to call games at the highest level, and it also benefits the NFL by providing professional game experience for those who are just a step away from working Sundays in the fall. In fact, I expect several officials calling USFL games this spring to officiate in the NFL later this year."

USFL rules to note
*After a touchdown, there will be three options. 1) Try a 33 yard extra point, 2) Go for a two point conversion from the 2-yard line, and 3) Try a scrimmage play from the 10 yard line for three points. This does open up a late of late game possibilities with comebacks.

*The overtime format is way different than NFL.  Each team will alternate plays from the 2-yard line. A successful try is worth two points, and each team will get three attempts. If the game is still tied, it continues until there’s a winner.

*It is legal to throw two forward passes behind the line of scrimmage.

*There is another option to onside kicks: the kicking team can run a 4th-and-12 play from its own 33-yard line. If they convert, they keep the ball. If not, the defense gets the ball.

*The clock will stop on first downs within the lasts two minutes of each half. 

*All kickoffs are from the 25-yard line. No kicking team member can line up further back than one yard. Receiving team must have eight players between the 35 and 45-yard lines. If the kick travels 20 yards, the first touch must be by the receiving team. If there’s an untouched dead ball, the receiving team gets the ball at that spot.

*Each team gets one replay challenge per game.

*In cases of defensive pass interference, college rules apply: within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage, it’s a spot foul. Beyond 15 yards, the penalty is 15 yards. However, if the pass doesn’t cross the line of scrimmage, there are no PI penalties, or ineligible player downfield penalties.

20 notable players
CJ Marable (Birmingham Stallions)
Scooby Wright (Birmingham Stallions)
Clayton Thorson (Houston Gamblers)
Isaiah Zuber (Houston Gamblers)
Shea Patterson (Michigan Panthers)
Paxton Lynch (Michigan Panthers)
Cavon Walker (Michigan Panthers)
Ben Holmes (New Jersey Generals)
Mike Weber (New Jersey Generals)
TJ Logan (New Orleans Breakers)
Kyle Sloter (New Orleans Breakers)
Taywan Taylor (New Orleans Breakers)
Davin Bellamy (New Orleans Breakers)
Jordan Ta'amu (Tampa Bay Bandits)
Eli Rogers (Tampa Bay Bandits)
John Franklin III (Tampa Bay Bandits)
De’Veon Smith (Pittsburgh Maulers)
Kyle Lauletta (Pittsburgh Maulers)
Bryan Scott (Philadelphia Stars)
Brennan Eagles (Philadelphia Stars)

I will be covering the USFL once it starts on April 16th. Ready for some football again.