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Author Topic: Football For a Buck  (Read 473 times)
the paw
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« on: January 10, 2019, 01:16:00 PM »

Just finished reading Football For A Buck, a history of the USFL.

Lots of CFL names pop up, including Marv Levy, Ray Jauch, Joey Walters and others.

It is amazing how craphouse crazy some of the owners and other characters in the league were.  Trump is the villain of the piece, but the other owners were complicit in letting him steamroll them.

Oddly enough, it seems to provide credible evidence that with non-crazy owners, a spring football league could work.  After reading this, I am of the impression that the new league might end up having some actual staying power.
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grab grass 'n growl
GCn18
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 03:17:50 PM »

The timing and original business plan by Dixon in the USFL is far superior to Polian's plan. The USFL went off the rails when salaries escalated through the roof, however, they escalated through the roof because owners began to panic when they weren't selling any tickets initially. Without Herschel Walker and a few brand name NFLers of the day coming in and blowing salaries completely out of whack the USFL does not survive year one.
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the paw
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2019, 03:46:43 PM »

The timing and original business plan by Dixon in the USFL is far superior to Polian's plan. The USFL went off the rails when salaries escalated through the roof, however, they escalated through the roof because owners began to panic when they weren't selling any tickets initially. Without Herschel Walker and a few brand name NFLers of the day coming in and blowing salaries completely out of whack the USFL does not survive year one.

I think the book suggests a different conclusion.  They illustrate how a couple of the franchises maintained cost discipline, avoided the Walker/Flutie/Young signings, and focused on marketing a fun game day experience.  They made a little money and could have sustained themselves I think.  The big mistakes they made were:

1.  Having an agreed salary "guideline" instead of an enforceable cap.
2.  Expanded way too soon, in their second year.
3.  As a result of expansion took in some owners they did not thoroughly vet, including Trump.
4.  Let themselves get bullied into moving to a fall schedule, which was contrary to their initial appeal. 

They also had some success with a method of signing regional college stars who still had some local appeal, a feature that the new league is looking to do more systematically. 

I don't know if the new league will last or not, but it sure seems that Polian has studied the history and tried to address the structural flaws.  Now it is simply a question of whether the market is truly there over time. 
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grab grass 'n growl
GCn18
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« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2019, 02:53:55 PM »

I think the book suggests a different conclusion.  They illustrate how a couple of the franchises maintained cost discipline, avoided the Walker/Flutie/Young signings, and focused on marketing a fun game day experience.  They made a little money and could have sustained themselves I think.  The big mistakes they made were:

1.  Having an agreed salary "guideline" instead of an enforceable cap.
2.  Expanded way too soon, in their second year.
3.  As a result of expansion took in some owners they did not thoroughly vet, including Trump.
4.  Let themselves get bullied into moving to a fall schedule, which was contrary to their initial appeal. 

They also had some success with a method of signing regional college stars who still had some local appeal, a feature that the new league is looking to do more systematically. 

I don't know if the new league will last or not, but it sure seems that Polian has studied the history and tried to address the structural flaws.  Now it is simply a question of whether the market is truly there over time. 

A high profile HC quit already yesterday and another is said to be leaving as well. Brad Childress resigned and Michael Vick is rumored to be right behind him. The league is falling apart before it has played a game.
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the paw
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« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2019, 05:10:41 PM »

A high profile HC quit already yesterday and another is said to be leaving as well. Brad Childress resigned and Michael Vick is rumored to be right behind him. The league is falling apart before it has played a game.

I don?t follow the NFL or it?s coaches much, but I would argue that Vick staying on as OC might be a worse sign than if he left.  Hardly a seasoned coach.

After googling Childress, it?s hard to interpret what?s going on.  He retired from NFL, then went right back as a consultant with the Bears, and flaked on them in a couple of months for the AAF, and is now bailing on them.  Either he?s having a midlife crisis, or he?s repositioning to return to the NFL after watching the league wide HC massacre.  Either way, I?m not sure it says much one way or the other about the stability of the new league. 

I get that you are heavily invested in your prediction that this league will crash and burn, and the odds are that you end up being right.  My only point is that this book is worth a read, and some of the data indicates that this is not as hare brained a scheme as it first appears. 
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grab grass 'n growl
GCn18
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« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2019, 05:24:05 PM »

I agree that a secondary pro league could work in the US. I just don't believe that a feeder league in the spring will bring a successful approach. I know that the USFL was close to being successful, but this is closer to the WLAF than it is to the USFL. Americans will not get excited for 2nd rate football and that has been proven time and time again.

The USFL had something that all other pro leagues in the US have seen as an after thought....quality football.
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66 Chevelle
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2019, 09:10:42 AM »

I agree that a secondary pro league could work in the US. I just don't believe that a feeder league in the spring will bring a successful approach. I know that the USFL was close to being successful, but this is closer to the WLAF than it is to the USFL. Americans will not get excited for 2nd rate football and that has been proven time and time again.

The USFL had something that all other pro leagues in the US have seen as an after thought....quality football.

I'm not sure what you mean exactly by a 'feeder league'... the only thing that I've heard relative to the AAF's relationship with the NFL is that they would be 'NFL friendly', that if a player gets an opportunity to go to the NFL and play that they would be allowed to be released from the contract with no issue.

and I'm not sure what your definition of '2nd rate' is but, I assume that the quality of play will be less than that in the NFL. If so, I could probably buy that based upon play alone, however, the NFL has neither the largest fan base OR TV viewership, that goes to the NCAA by miles. One would have to consider them to have a product that is not of the quality of the NFL. The people I know watch both but it seems that we are always talking about the NCAA games, not the NFL stuff.

I get it, there hasn't been a league in the US that has successfully launched a football league that survived, this one may go the way of those that have proceeded them. Again, the people that I have talked are either interested or not, but those that are on the 'not' side, none of them said their reason was because it's 2nd rate. The few that had no interest said it was because they don't have the time, either they or their children had activities of some sort that conflicted with the season.

Also, their big claim is that their league will be about the fan experience, we'll see how they perform at this. One thing they did promise and have come through with is tickets that are actually affordable, something affordable and within a families budget. So far they've done so as far as I'm concerned. I bought season tickets, 32 rows up between the 45 and 50 yard line on the home team side for $35/ticket/game. I bought 4 seats for the entire year for less than I could buy 2 tickets for only myself to sit in the nose bleed section of a Chiefs game.

Personally, the quality of ball, as long as it competitive, is less important than the other things they could do, such as a bunch of gimicks employed to make you think that its better than the NFL. Such as, a bunch of stupid rules, or the whole soap opera/pro wrestling thing that Vince did the first time around with the XFL.

The NFL channel's primary programming seems to be reruns of NFL games, over and over again. ESPN shows multiple high school games through out the year (but I'll also say that they feel there is an audience for spikeball and cornhole games as well). These entities much think that there is an audience that whats more football.

I'm going to reserve judgement until they actually play a game, but I am optimistic and feel that more football is a good thing... but, I'm a football fan that believes that there are 2 seasons, football season and waiting for football season... my 'waiting for football season' will be reduced to a paltry 4 weeks a year now...  Grin
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DM83
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2019, 09:32:35 AM »

I was just down in Phoenix, where the team will,be practicing in Glendale and playing. At ASU in Tempe. They Hired some unknown local guy to be the head coach.  Their practice facility is at an unheard of technical college.

From reading that article it doesn't look very promising.  They will be competing against the indoor arena team, which has won league championships, and spring training baseball. Furthermore, sitting outside in the hot Spring Sun for 2-3 hours isn't a great idea.

I got the feeling that at this point this is just above a pick up game at the park.  I certainly wouldn't be wanting to associate with this league at this point.

Sometimes things sound good over A few beers, but when in reality, when actual shovels have to hit the ground, it's a different story.

The Bombers affiliate is the Memphis Express, GM is Will Lewis, yup the same One, and Head Coach is Mike Singletary.  All CFL teams have an "affiliate"
« Last Edit: January 13, 2019, 04:43:17 PM by DM83 » Logged
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