A group investors, including the likes of Wall Street investor William Hambrecht Google senior executive Tim Armstrong, are willing to gamble $30 million for the new UFL to work. The league's plan is to stick around until 2011 playing a small schedule in the fall in a few select cities.
The UFL will have four teams with games being played in San Francisco, Orlando, Las Vegas and New York. Each team will have a salary cap between $12 million and $20 million (yes, this league could provide Michael Vick a place to play if there are no takers in the NFL). However, the most impressive thing about this new league is the big names they have already attracted. On Wednesday, the league announced an impressive list of head coaches: Dennis Green, Jim Fassel, Ted Cottrell and Jim Haslett. They are each being paid roughly $500,000 this season to put a team together from a list of players who will be cut from NFL teams in June and in training camp. The coaches will hold a two-week training camp in September before the four teams take on a six-game schedule that ends just before Thanksgiving.
Do not be mistaken to think that the UFL will be like the minor leagues for the NFL. This new league has no affiliation with the big boys and could potentially provide problems in the future. One major problem for the NFL is that the UFL's presence will minimize the supply of players available for teams that need to fill holes throughout the season. From September to Thanksgiving, NFL teams that lose players are basically out of luck. It is hard finding players now. Imagine what it will be like with 200 players getting ready for the UFL season.
The key for the UFL is to survive for two years. If it can survive Year 1, the league will modestly expand in 2010 with a couple more teams and a few more games. Supposedly, the $30 million laid down by investors should carry the UFL into 2011. They are betting NFL owners will screw up labor talks in the next two years and have a lockout in 2011. If the NFL loses in labor, the UFL may win. If the NFL players are locked out, the UFL can offer them a home.
Of course, if NFL owners reach a deal with the players by next March, the UFL will be nothing more than a fall developmental league, which isn't such a bad idea either.