13 May 2012
We have one of these announcements about an attempt to create a new minor league every six months or so, and I think I always link to them, because I still think it's a good idea to have a spring developmental league that plays in smaller markets. This new USFL seems to have everything right. The key phrase from this FAQ on their website might be "Our intention is to allow NFL personnel unfettered access to practices and games." This thing is being built 100 percent as a developmental league. It seems a lot closer to the NBDL than to any of the other failed attempts, although I doubt there will be strict team-to-team affiliation agreements.
Four pieces of advice I would give to the new league:
1) Set a rule that no player can play in the league during the spring of his graduating college class. This allows the NFL to continue its current standard practice when it comes to the draft, signing undrafted free agents, and minicamps. Teams won't have to worry about losing half their players at the beginning of May. For example, in the 2013 debut season, use players who were UFAs and waived late-round picks in 2009-2012, but no players eligible for the 2013 draft. The plan is already for the league to end in June, in time for players to sign with NFL teams and attend training camps to try to make rosters.
2) Pursue a broadcast deal with NFL Network as part of your negotiations with the NFL.
3) To make money off nostalgia, do as much as possible to bring back the names and trademarks of USFL teams in smaller markets. The FAQ says the USFL doesn't want to compete in markets that already have professional sports in the spring, but I don't know if the NBA is really a head-to-head competitor if they wanted to bring back the Oklahoma Outlaws, Memphis Showboats, or those crazy Gunslingers from San Antone.
4) They might as well talk to the UFL people about buying the rights to their more popular teams. They already have fanbases set up and equipment purchased if they want to play with the Omaha Nighthawks and Virginia Destroyers, and those markets don't have MLB or NBA competition.
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