Friday, November 27, 2009

Jim Fassel, Las Vegas Locos, Win 1st UFL Championship

Many people in charge of the UFL, owners, investors, coaches, players, and marketers, considered the UFL's first season a "dress rehearsal." That's their excuse for the lack of attendance, visibility, and quality of game for the first season.

In the UFL's defense, I did see a sign for their product hanging near Angels Stadium in Anaheim during the ALDS and (I believe) ALCS.

I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't pulling for the UFL. I'd also be a liar if I said I watched a game after the opener.

But I did watch today's UFL Championship Game between the undefeated Florida Tuskers (lead by Michael Pittman, Brooks Bollinger, and head coach Jim Haslett) and the Las Vegas Locomotives (lead by J.P Losman and head coach Jim Fassel). And let me be completely honest, unbiased, and straight forward; it was the best football game that no one saw in 2009.

That doesn't mean it was better than Colts vs Patriots, Lions vs Brown (though that game was blacked out so I don't think anyone saw it), or Tennessee vs Alabama, but it was a very, very good game.

Well played too. And let's be fair to the UFL, they didn't exactly get a preseason, offseason, or a chance to build team chemistry before the opening game; which is probably why the UFL looked so awful the first week.

The teams I watched today had more chemistry than most college teams, and college teams usually have better chemistry than most pro teams, so fill in the blanks. The receivers and QB's were in rhythm, the defenses played pretty good man to man coverage, and the offensive lines were adequate. The kickers made the kicks they'd make in the NFL, the punters had average hang times, and overall, the game liked like a middle-end NFL game. It wasn't the Colts vs Pats, it wasn't even the Lions vs Browns, but it was an entertaining game.

At the end of the day, it was J.P Losman who got retribution, not Brooks Bollinger. It was DeDe Dorsey who won the MVP of the Championship, not Michael Pittman or Tatum Bell. It was also Jim Fassel, finally winning a championship in a decade that saw no coach fall from top to bottom harder.

So now there's a league of four teams worth of NFL free agents ready to be signed, loose, and available to play immediately. That's the point of the UFL, not to compete with the NFL, but to complement it. It's why the AFL and XFL failed, and why NFL Europe should have played in the Fall. The UFL is smart; it's not try to be the NFL, it's not trying to beat the NFL, it's trying to capitalize on a football hungry market by creating a league where free agents, known and unknown, young and old, can build or rebuild their careers.

The UFL will succeed. I hope it does at least. It should make the game more intimate. Go to smaller venues. Instead of Giants Stadium, play at Columbia or Hofstra. Instead of the Home Depot Center, play at some SCIAC school or Fresno (if you want to keep the Redwoods North). Minor league baseball is successful in some markets because of it's intimacy, the UFL needs to do the same.

I turst the league though. They're doing well, and they're smart. The best thing that can happen to the UFL is to have it's players head to the NFL and make an impact come playoff time.

Don't you have a feeling that's going to happen.

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