|2011 United Football League season|
|Duration||August 13, 2011 – October 15, 2011|
|2011 UFL Championship Game|
|Date||October 23, 2011|
|United Football League seasons
The 2011 United Football League season will be the third season in the United Football League. The eight-game regular season will begin during the weekend of Friday, August 12, 2011 and extend into October, followed by the 2011 UFL Championship Game on October 23, 2011.
League changes for 2011[edit | edit source]
Though the UFL will enter the 2011 season with 5 franchises, the same amount of teams it had in 2010, the league will venture into a new market in 2011—the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, which was granted an expansion franchise in August 2010, the Virginia Destroyers. The Destroyers' first off-season has been marked with front office and coaching upheaval: Jim Speros had been named owner of the Destroyers before relinquishing control back to the league, which now owns and operates the Destroyers franchise. The team has also seen 2 coaches leave (see "Coaching Changes" below) as well as a general manager, Doug Williams, who resigned in February 2011 to accept the head football coaching position at his alma matter, Grambling State University.
The UFL went back from 6 to 5 teams on January 12, 2011, when the league announced it was "ceasing operations" of its Florida Tuskers franchise and moving the Tuskers' coaching staff and list of protected players to Virginia to serve in the same roles with the Destroyers in lieu of an expansion draft. The relocated coaching staff included Tuskers head coach Jay Gruden, who replaced original Destroyers coach Joe Moglia (who was reassigned to the open head coaching position in Omaha) but later accepted a coordinator position with Cincinnati in the NFL.
Prior to shuttering the Tuskers franchise (a move the UFL made citing decreased attendance and stadium issues in the Orlando area), the league had been aiming for as much as 8 franchises for 2011; the league was "pretty committed" to a team in the Los Angeles area (a market it has explored in the past to various degrees), and plans were almost in place for a team in Portland, Oregon. Though "encouraging conversations" with franchise investors for a 6th team did take place, the UFL announced in February 2011 that new expansion plans would not be made in time for the start of the 2011 season, and that the league will remain at 5 teams. In March 2011, however, a report surfaced that a group in Chattanooga, Tennessee, led by Jim Bates and Jeremy Bates, was interested in pursuing a UFL team in that city. League officials acknowledged that Chattanooga was in the mix, but only for a 2012 expansion and that the 2011 season was fixed at five teams.
The UFL's financial difficulties have been brought to light during the 2011 offseason, with the league delinquent on bills acquired during the previous season, having lost approximately $50 million in the 2010 season and facing about $6 million in debts to creditors. A few players and team personnel have also claimed they have not received paychecks for the 2010 season. Legal action against the UFL has also been set into motion: League investor Mark Cuban claims the league defaulted on a $5 million loan; a public relations firm that worked with the Sacramento Mountain Lions is seeking payment; and the Mayo Clinic is seeking compensation for medical bills and player physicals. In an effort to avoid future problems, the league will be shifting most operations from the league to its teams, with each team president taking a greater role of its finances. According to reports, most of these debts were paid in March 2011.
The league has plans to compensate its players $10,000 per game, up from $6,250 the year prior.
Schedule[edit | edit source]
The UFL will start its 2011 regular season in the second weekend of August—a date that, while it is considerably earlier than the start dates for previous seasons, allows the UFL to gain attention while the National Football League is normally in its preseason (and perhaps even more attention should the NFL's ongoing labor problems cause cancellation of some or all of its preseason games); the move also provides the UFL the opportunity for games on Sunday for the first time ever. The league originally intended for a 10-game regular season over 11 weeks with a championship game on October 23, 2011; the return to 5 teams, however, will also mean a return to the schedule pattern used in 2010—a double round robin schedule with each team playing 8 games (two against each opponent) over 10 weeks (2 bye weeks for each team), with the championship still set for the weekend of October 23.
The 2011 UFL Draft was held May 2, 2011. The UFL has indicated that it will aggressively pursue the undrafted free agents that, because of the NFL's labor stoppage, cannot be signed to NFL teams until said stoppage is lifted, and that the earlier draft is in part designed to gain access to the undrafted free agent market.
The UFL did not release its 2011 game schedule until June 9, two months before the season's start; the schedule features opening weekend games in Virginia (where the Destroyers will make their on-field debut) and Sacramento, as well as the Omaha Nighthawks' first game at TD Ameritrade Park in Week 2. The game dates are subject to change, as the league may move game dates to Sundays should the NFL lockout affect its regular season; game times and television broadcasters are yet to be determined as they are subject to pending UFL TV deals.
(Bye: Las Vegas)
|Saturday August 13||Hartford Colonials||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|Sunday August 14||Omaha Nighthawks||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Hornet Stadium|
|Saturday August 20||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Hornet Stadium|
|Sunday August 21||Virginia Destroyers||Omaha Nighthawks||TD Ameritrade Park Omaha|
|Saturday August 27||Omaha Nighthawks||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|Sacramento Mountain Lions||Hartford Colonials||Rentschler Field|
|Friday September 2||Omaha Nighthawks||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|Sunday September 4||Hartford Colonials||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|Saturday September 10||Virginia Destroyers||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Hornet Stadium|
|Las Vegas Locomotives||Hartford Colonials||Rentschler Field|
|Saturday September 18||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Omaha Destroyers||TD Ameritrade Park Omaha|
|Virginia Destroyers||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
(Bye: Las Vegas)
|Friday September 23||Omaha Nighthawks||Hartford Colonials||Rentschler Field|
|Saturday September 24||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|Friday September 30||Las Vegas Locomotives||Omaha Nighthawks||TD Ameritrade Park Omaha|
|Saturday October 1||Hartford Colonials||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Hornet Stadium|
|Saturday October 8||Virginia Destroyers||Hartford Colonials||Rentschler Field|
|Sacramento Mountain Lions||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|Friday October 14||Las Vegas Locomotives||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|Saturday October 15||Hartford Colonials||Omaha Nighthawks||TD Ameritrade Park Omaha|
Coaching changes[edit | edit source]
|Team||2011 Coach||2010 Coach||Reason for leaving||Story/Accomplishments|
|Hartford Colonials||Jerry Glanville||Chris Palmer||Resigned||After leading the Colonials to a 3–5 record (.375) in 2010, Palmer resigned on February 15, 2011 to become the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans of the NFL. Former NFL head coach Jerry Glanville was named as his replacement on March 21, 2011.|
|Omaha Nighthawks||Joe Moglia||Jeff Jagodzinski||Fired||After a 3–1 start in 2010, the Nighthawks lost their last four games to finish 3–5 (.375) and tied for last place, leading to Jagodzinski's dismissal on January 3, 2011. The UFL replaced Jagodzinski on January 12 with Joe Moglia, an Omaha resident who moves over from same position in Virginia. Prior to joining the UFL, Moglia's coaching experience included working as defensive coordinator for Dartmouth College in the early 1980s and most recently serving as an unpaid assistant with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. In between those stints, Mogila had spent 27 years out of football, during which he was an executive with Merrill Lynch and TD Ameritrade; he still serves as chairman of the latter company, which is also the name sponsor of the Nighthawks' new stadium.|
|Virginia Destroyers||Marty Schottenheimer||Joe Moglia,
|Moglia was named the Destroyers' head coach in November 2010 when the Destroyers were an expansion team, but was transferred to Omaha (see above) when the Florida Tuskers' operations, including its coaching staff, were merged into Virginia's. Jay Gruden, who went 5-4 (.556) as Tuskers coach in 2010 (including a loss in the championship game) accepted the offensive coordinator position with the NFL's Cincinnati Bengals on February 2. The Destroyers, after initially revealing they had a tentative agreement with an unstated former NFL head coach on March 4 announced Schottenheimer as their head coach March 23. Schottenheimer was a head coach in the NFL from 1984 to 1998 and 2001 to 2006, with a career record of 205–139–1 (.604).|
Stadium changes[edit | edit source]
Two UFL teams will play in new stadiums in 2011. The Omaha Nighthawks, who played at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in 2010, will move to the brand new TD Ameritrade Park in downtown Omaha. The Virginia Destroyers, who as the Florida Tuskers played in Orlando's Citrus Bowl, will call Virginia Beach Sportsplex in Virginia Beach their home; the currently undersized Sportsplex will undergo a temporary expansion to accommodate the Destroyers.
The Las Vegas Locomotives sought a lower-cost alternative to the high rate of rent for Sam Boyd Stadium and considered moving to the smaller Cashman Field for 2011, but instead opted to return to Sam Boyd Stadium. Both sides were "excited" for their return. The Hartford Colonials, in part because of a change of management at Rentschler Field, experienced significant delays in renewing their lease with the stadium and had backup plans to relocate to another lower-cost stadium such as Dillon Stadium or Willow Brook Park if an agreement could not be reached, although both of these stadiums are believed to be less than ideal for the UFL. The UFL reached an agreement with the operators of Rentschler Field in late June 2011.
Broadcasting[edit | edit source]
The UFL's previous television contracts with Versus, HDNet and NESN expired December 31, 2010 after 2 seasons; the league is now seeking TV deals that will generate revenue for the league, something the previous contracts did not do (the league had to reimburse the networks for production costs in the previous deal). Though ESPN has already stated it had no plans to televise UFL games, they also report that, in conversations with "programming people," that other networks are open to the possibility. The UFL confirmed that CBS Sports, Fox Sports and Turner Sports, along with Versus and HDNet, were in negotiations with the UFL regarding televising games.
In an interview with Omaha radio station KOZN, Commissioner Hyughue said that Versus (soon to be renamed under NBC Sports) and HDNet are still the UFL's cable television partners, and he said that he gave major over-the-air television networks a deadline of July 1 carry some UFL games. The league's schedule was crafted with their usual partners in mind, but dates and times are subject to change (most likely in the second half if the NFL lockout continues). Hyughue said the wait for television is for the NFL's benefit; he said he didn't want a UFL TV presence to hamper the NFL's possible 2011 season. Colonials ownership acknowledged conversations with CBS over the possible airing of some games but considered the prospect unlikely and believed that the NFL lockout would be resolved in time for the preseason.
The league intends to continue broadcasting on local radio stations as it did in 2010, although new deals will have to be negotiated with each individual station, including a new broadcast outlet for the Virginia Destroyers. 
Standings[edit | edit source]
|United Football League|
|Las Vegas Locomotives||0||0||0||.000||0||0|
|Sacramento Mountain Lions||0||0||0||.000||0||0|
References[edit | edit source]
- Fairbank, Dave (2010-08-20). "League office to take over prospective UFL franchise; Speros out as owner". Daily Press. http://www.dailypress.com/sports/dp-spt-ufl-hamptonroads-ownership,0,612228.story. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- "Jay Gruden to Coach the Virginia Destroyers of the United Football League". United Football League. 2011-01-12. http://www.ufl-football.com/news/jay-gruden-coach-virginia-destroyers-united-football-league. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- "Omaha Nighthawks name Joe Moglia new coach", from omaha.com, 1/12/2011
- "UFL chief pleased by league growth, Mountain Lions," from Sacramento Bee, 11/27/2010
- "Source: No 6th Team for 2011 Season," from uflaccess.com, 2/9/2011
- Source: UFL press release via oursportscentral.com from 2/10/2011
- Mortensen, Chris (2011-03-21). "Another UFL headline on hold or in works - 6th franchise in Chattanooga w a Jim/Jeremy Bates father & son reunion as coaches. A maybe." MortReport (Twitter). Retrieved 2011-03-21.
- Carp, Steve (2011-04-21). "UFL commish Michael Huygue insists 2011 season's a go, lockout or not. May add a 6th team for this yr. Portland, Salt Lake or Chattanooga. Before you dismiss Chattanooga, look what Omaha did at turnstiles in inaugural UFL season. Led league in attendance." Twitter. SteveCarpRJ (Twitter). Retrieved 2011-04-21.
- Paschall, David (2011-03-23). UFL confirms future Chattanooga interest. Times Free Press. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Carp, Steve (2011-02-14). Huyghue: UFL plans to play, pay. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2011-02-14.
- Dole, Paul (2011-03-04). UFL, Colonials Dealing With Debts. Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- "Norfolk's Rome stymied by cash-strapped UFL," from pilotonline.com, 3/3/2011
- "Mark Cuban Files Federal Suit to Get Back His $5 Million Loan to the United Football League," from dallasobserver.com, 1/13/2011
- Football League Facing Mayo Lawsuit," from firstcoastnews.com, 3/2/2011
- Garber, Greg (2011-03-07). Would lockout open door for UFL?. espn.com. Retrieved 2011-03-16.
- Barrows, Matthew (2011-03-25). UFL, Mountain Lions may pounce if NFL stays idle. Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
- Robinson, Tom (2011-03-24). A little Marty follow-up. Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2011-03-25.
- Prospects such as Burney and Herzlich must make decision. NFL.com. Retrieved 2011-05-02.
- [[http://www.ufl-football.com/news/ufl-announces-2011-schedule Source: UFL-football.com, 6/9/2011
- Karpeles, Robert (2011-01-12). "Joe Moglia to Coach Omaha Nighthawks". FanHouse. http://www.fanhouse.com/2011/01/12/joe-moglia-to-coach-omaha-nighthawks/. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Karpeles, Robert (2011-01-12). "Joe Moglia Officially Named Virginia Destroyers Head Coach, President". FanHouse. http://www.fanhouse.com/2010/11/10/joe-moglia-officially-named-virginia-destroyers-head-coach-pres/. Retrieved 2011-01-12.
- Robinson, Tom (2011-03-04). UFL eager to get going in Hampton Roads after glitches. The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2011-03-04.
- Nighthawks the newest tenants at TD Ameritrade Park. Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved 2011-05-25.
- Robinson, Tom (2011-06-10). UFL schedule finally out, team's work is just beginning. The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- Carp, Steve (2010-11-06). "UFL's Locomotives to return for third season despite poor attendance". Las Vegas Review-Journal. http://www.lvrj.com/sports/ufl-s-locomotives-to-return-for-third-season-despite-poor-attendance-106815283.html. Retrieved 2010-11-07.
- Known for taking risks, Glanville ready to take on UFL. CBS Sports. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
- Doyle, Paul (2011-06-09). Hartford Colonials Announce 2011 Schedule; Still Seek Home Field Agreement. Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2011-06-10.
- Doyle, Paul. Hartford Colonials Calling Rentschler Home Again. Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
- "UFL hopes to fill TV void if NFL goes dark," from Associated Press via thescore.ca, 3/5/2011
- Doyle, Paul. Hartford Colonials Calling Rentschler Home Again. Hartford Courant. Retrieved 2011-06-23.
- Carp, Steve (2011-06-10). League gives Locos extra week to prepare. Las Vegas Review-Journal. Retrieved 2011-06-17.