2024 Season United Football League (UFL) 4.0

I am on board with multiple things you said - especially the part where the NFL probably doesn’t want or need to see more tape on McCarron or McLeod Bethel-Thompson - they know that the NFLE produced a number of serviceable QBs back in the day. Why not grind the young and unproven through the system - Brock Purdy types of talent are probably floating around out there.

At this point from an NFL perspective it would be risky to look forward 30 years and see the NFL/NCAA relationship as static or not changing in some form. The NCAA and the SEC/Big10 are looking like they will be separate entities in the future as you stated. Who knows where the evolution of that relationship is going?

All that said if this iteration can get the losses down to a reasonable number that is acceptable to the NFL I can see a path forward. One of the keys to this league in my mind is the performance of Houston in Rice Stadium - as I stated before
they have 4 Sunday afternoon games and one Saturday night game. Last year the game times were all over the board for most teams - if schedule stability doesn’t help the Houston franchise as well as the league it is time to pull the plug on this thing and move in a different direction.

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Also the big number we never touched on is that 35% of the NFL players are undrafted free agents. The UFL allows for those undrafted or cut during training camp to go through a 10 week season of full speed games with NFL level coaching and mentoring. A chance to learn the NFL game in ways that they could not in college where the college coach is worried about his job.

Anyone here think that Wade Phillips is under pressure from his bosses? If that dude goes .500 for the next 4 years and produces a pipeline to the NFL they will let him coach for pretty much as long as he wants. Also notice that the UFL weeded out some of the celebrity coaches.

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Well it looks like the UFL site, with about six weeks left before the first game, has only begun to have a news feed and change its look.

Nobody is ever rushing nowadays to do anything for this new league.

As the Super Bowl was on CBS, I did not see any plug of the UFL during the game, but did anybody else?

Paramount+ certainly was promoted a lot though.

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This one is well worth a cross-post for sake of the big picture in scouting of players by leagues, including when the process goes wrong even for numerous “experts” …it’s not that the signs of trouble were not there in this example like others (i.e. Johnny Nacho, JaMarcus Russell, et cetera), it’s that so many heavily-informed did not even see them in what passes also as another example of the fallacy of human groupthink:

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AJ McCarron Released by Bengals

Around and around we go now - will McCarron finally come back to St. Louis, or will he just retire?

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Apparently AJ asked for his release specifically to come back to St. Louis. That’ a big win for the UFL. The new site and store also went live today.

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I saw improvements a few days ago, and well THIS was about time here on 15 February!

What took those bojacks so long?

Anyway, here are the official rules! Now we can banter and argue about the rules too!
:partying_face:

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Well wherever you agree or disagree, as I state below on some of the rules, there is amply far more space for all to study the UFL’s implementation of its rules itself.

It’s a live gridiron football rules experiment too!

Now if you are reading this now, quit muddling around and get on out there and bicker you too for your good and bad and good bad selves you galoots!
:triumph: :pirate_flag:

The UFL has adopted the XFL’s points after-touchdown options. Kickoffs will resemble the USFL’s more traditional-style play, with a modification moving the kickoff line back to the 20-yard line.

Slight modifications have been made to the rules that overlapped, including alternate possession options in the fourth quarter. Both leagues implemented opportunities in 2023 for teams that are trailing or if the scores are tied. In 2024, the UFL will offer a 4th-and-12 from the 28-yard line.

And the reason they are having kickoffs back from the 20-yard line is because they want to encourage and scout the special teams play. Of course these returns often make games more exciting, but I guess we will have to see how things go for injuries or not.

A kickoff that is untouched by the receiving team may only be recovered by the kicking team up to 20 yards from the spot of the kick.

This is an interesting wrinkle. The kickoff does not result in a live ball after 20 yards from the kick. Essentially this is “must return” for the receiving team, or the official blows the ball dead inbounds if no return akin to an untouched ball after a punt. Over to you @BetweenTheGoalposts !

Other Kicking/Touchback Rules

All touchbacks on kicks (punts or kickoffs) will be placed at the receiving team’s 25-yard line. Any punt that goes out of bounds inside the receiving team’s 25-yard line will be considered a touchback and placed at the 25-yard line. Non-kicking touchbacks will also be placed at the 25-yard line.

I don’t like these rules with regards to punts at all, for now there is no coffin corner in the UFL. And also it’s disappointing that the UFL retains the dumb fumble out of opponent’s end zone rule of American football.

Two Forward Passes

Teams will be allowed, as they were in both leagues last season, to throw two forward passes on one play. The ball cannot cross the line of scrimmage at any time prior to the second forward pass being thrown.

This is a sad gimmick and steaming hot :poop: too.

Catch Definition

A completed catch or interception is defined as a player securing control of the ball prior to the ball touching the ground; and touching the ground inbounds with both feet or with any part of his body other than his hands.

This is how ALL catch rules should be now in ALL of gridiron football, with the exception that I like the one foot rule better but that’s a personal view. No more “the player has to survive the ground,” so long as he had secured control of the ball inbounds before slamming into the ground, which often jars the ball loose.

Overtime

Overtime will consist of alternating attempts to score from the opponent’s 5-yard line with no kicks allowed. It will be a best-of-three format or until a winner has been determined.

Though I prefer continued regular play like in the NFL for overtime, it’s not practical or feasible for this league and especially for the media partners.

Even so, I like THIS format far better than that in use in ALL other leagues, for it is better than mere sudden death after merely only as little as one possession for each team in scrimmage ball that is not real football.

If this works out in the UFL, this could be the model for improvement for all leagues not using the overtime format of simply more regular play like the NFL and formerly the CFL.

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UFL Training Camp Starts 24 February This Week

https://www.si.com/fannation/ufl/news/united-football-league-training-camp-details

UFL teams report to training camp in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 24 ahead of the newly merged XFL-USFL league’s inaugural season, which kicks off on March 30.

All eight United Football League teams will have a maximum of 75 players on their rosters for camp. In a month’s time, squads will be pared down to 50 for the regular season. 600 players will report to camp, but that number will drop to 400 before the season begins.

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I’m not wishing for that Spring Football Echo Chamber bunch to return here no doubt, but it’s so telling they are not around at all any more as if a hub league was going to be something that would last forever. What an odd bunch.

It’s like it was always more about the concept of some teams that mattered more than attendance or play. Virtual sports to match those video games?

Then again, I’m hoping there are some new fans aboard here too once the season starts.

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lol, right now some of them are complaining that the first week hasn’t started already. :roll_eyes:

Spring football has had difficulty getting it’s foot in the door. They’ve tried February ball several times. Give FOX a chance to see if late March works.

The argument that is pro-February suggests that casual fans watching the Super Bowl would tune in a week later. I think not. Casual fans are watching for the halftime show and the party around the game. If casual fans were tuning in then the ratings would be higher than 1-3 million.

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This will get Year number Six? AAF, XFL 2.0, TSL, USFL, USFL/XFL, UFL. I am thinking that those who are in charge at ESPN/Fox have some data that gives a pretty good idea that they don’t want to go head to head with March Madness and that February is not a great month for the season to start. This year they are starting on the 30th of March - which is the weekend of the Elite 8 - which means that Saturday there are two games and Sunday there are two games.

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Oh yes, as we had covered in the prior threads as we watched the XFL’s experiment in March last year unfold to include even games on cable network FX due to March madness, well the experiment did NOT go over well at all.

The UFL 4.0 is wise to start far later than did the XFL 3.5.

Then there’s that part where some of those damn fools forget that the weather is terribly unreliable in February in much of the country with cold spells even in some of the south and well, fans in general are not keen on sitting out in the cold conditions for football in February or March unlike for the other leagues late in the year or that occasional playoff game that comes to town in January.

There’s a reason even the Super Bowl is almost always in a venue that is indoors or in a warm climate in February, and even the last time it was not when at MetLife Stadium in metro New York City a decade ago, they got lucky because it was unseasonably warm.

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Any guess to what attendance will look like this year? It seems the USFL teams are only selling one side of their stadiums again :thinking: Michigan is still only taking season ticket deposits at this point, which puts them behind the other 7 teams.
Here are my guesses:
St. Louis-1st place easily. There’s word that the home opener could touch 50k. I doubt they get that many, especially with the MLS team playing at the same time, but should crack 40k for the home opener. I’m thinking an overall average of 37-40k for the Bhawks.

San Antonio- Should see a nice increase as skepticism starts to die amongst the locals. Should be a much improved team on the field as well. 18-20k average.

DC- Audi field will be rocking and I’ll be there for at least the St. Louis matchup. The lack of Saturday night games may hurt a bit, however. 15-16k average.

Houston- Not totally sold on the stadium move, although they are now offering a discount to Rice students. Rice students don’t even come out for their university team and it’s not exactly a party school. I’d put Houston in the 10-12k range.

Arlington- Defending champs, but not an impressive team on paper. The venue really isn’t good for football, but surviving to play another year might add a small increase in attendance. 13-14k.

Birmingham- Honestly wasn’t too impressed last year. Coming off a championship season and attendance dropped. Birmingham might be the best team on paper this year and the slightly earlier season start could help a bit. 15-17k

Memphis- Not a huge fan of this market, wish Philly or NOLA made the cut instead. Not too confident we’ll see much more than 10k a game, especially now that the cheap/freebie tickets will be mostly a thing of the past.

Detroit- To me the biggest question mark. They drew OK for the quality of team on hand last season. With the Lions coming off a heartbreaking end to the season will the locals be thirsty for some football redemption, or promptly ignore the young Panthers? I’m thinking 10-12k average in Detroit, although it could get ugly fast if the team doesn’t compete out the gate.

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But St Louis averaged 35,000 last season.
Seems that cities without an NFL team would likely have higher attendance

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Yet another fantastic assessment! Thank you for sharing. Wait until I tell that Superb Owl about this one too!

I agree with your listed order too after you explained them all so well.

I’m worried the most about the bottom three plus until that stadium situation is improved, Houston is shaky.

Birmingham
Either this city, with a good chunk of the population of Alabama in proximity, becomes a strong market this season, or that experience was yet another pandemic flash in the pan. For the 2022 season of the USFL 2.0, this venue was literally the ONLY game in town and for the 2023 season, it was literally the biggest game in town given the general failure of attendance in the three other USFL 2.0 markets. The trouble in the American South is that it’s all about college football, and well in April when they run up against those spring events for the teams in Alabama, what will be the interest of the locals?

Memphis
I have a good friend who lives here whom I have often asked about the local scene. This league and this team are hardly on the radar as they otherwise will renovate the stadium and invest in Memphis University such that they will own it as well. This is not a strong LOCAL sports town but for whenever Memphis basketball does well in the NCAA or the NBA Grizzlies do well, which is hardly ever. FWIW the Grizzlies are 7-20 at home this season, the fourth worst home record in the NBA. I smell stink city and new market after 2024 in the UFL 2.0.

Detroit
I agree this is an even bigger question mark than Memphis. Quite simply, either they draw solidly at Ford Field or once again, we are going to see what looks like a top high school scrimmage in a largely empty cavernous venue on the TV screen. The background seems very poorly lit when people are not in the stands, as if the Panthers are saving on the bills during the games, and is a HORRIBLE look for ABC or Fox. I don’t see that air time in such a cavernous venue lasting yet another season, and then one has to wonder about the viability of this market. Shifting live broadcasts to heavily only cable channel exposure or only streaming is the modern death knell for any live sports that want to be big time, so that’s not a good option any more in 2024 as opposed to as was thought in 2021 to be the dominant growing future for live sports.

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Detroit I am not expecting good things - I would expect 5 or 6 k per game for that venue.

Houston has schedule stability and Rice is in a much nicer part of town, lots of Sunday afternoon games. I am betting that the Roughnecks get in the 15k range.

Memphis I don’t have high expectations for nor do I have high expectations for the Stallions. San Antonio in year two with a better schedule should do much better.

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Yeah USFL in 2022/23 didn’t release attendance numbers so it’s hard to guess.

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Of course they didn’t because they SUCKED because it was a trash hub league too, but now the proof is in the pudding or bust.

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Well, I did some research regarding the UFL’s rules surrounding Special Teams. Here are my findings;

Field Flipper’s Handbook: UFL Special Teams Rules and What You Need to Know

With the start of the inaugural season just over a month away, the UFL has released its official 2024 Rule Book, bringing several changes to the special teams department. Drawing inspiration from the USFL and the XFL, the new league introduces innovative special teams rules aimed at making the product on the field more exciting while also promoting a higher standard of player safety. To ensure you’re well-prepared before kickoff, I’ve meticulously scoured the 124-page document to bring you the important bits you need to know.

Kickoffs

In a surprising move that shocked much of the alt-football community, the UFL announced that it will not be utilizing the XFL-style kickoff, opting to instead embrace the USFL-style kickoff that more closely resembles the style employed by the NFL. By kicking off at the 20-yard line, the UFL kickoff will aim to incentivize more returns and reduce the number of touchbacks seen throughout the season.

The NFL’s kickoff, positioned at the 35-yard line, has often been criticized for its predictability, with nearly every kick resulting in a touchback. Notably, Super Bowl 58 marked the first in NFL history without a single kickoff return, emphasizing the need for a change. The UFL’s decision to move the kickoff back 15 yards poses a challenge for Kickers, requiring an 80-yard kick for a touchback—a feat achieved just 7.5% of the time last year in the USFL.

During the 2023 USFL season, kickoffs travelled for an average of 68 yards downfield, which means it was caught at the return team’s 12-yard line. In turn, Return Specialists recorded an average of 26 yards per return, meaning that the average starting field position in the USFL was the 38-yard line. The UFL’s touchback, which comes out to the 25-yard line, emphasizes the importance of Kickers who can consistently record Touchbacks, providing their team the best chances of winning the field position battle.

Also returning from the USFL is the rule regarding kickoffs that go out-of-bounds. Designed to encourage Kickoff Specialists to avoid kicking the ball toward the sidelines, an errant kick that finds its way out of bounds results in the receiving team taking possession of the ball at the 50-yard line or the spot where the ball exited play.

On a personal note, while I have no qualms about the UFL’s decision to adopt the USFL-style kickoffs, I am saddened to say goodbye to the strategy-heavy XFL-style kickoffs. The inclusion of Major/Minor Touchbacks added a directional element rarely seen in football and the blocking schemes we saw during the last half of the XFL season were incredibly clever. Further, it’s worth noting that while kickoff specialists will be allowed to use a tee to elevate the ball off the ground, if the ball falls off the tee twice during the same kickoff, the kicking team must resort to using a player to hold the ball. This means we will no longer witness league officials holding the ball on kickoffs, a fan favourite in the XFL.

By adopting the USFL-style kickoff, the UFL aims to inject excitement back into the game while staying true to the kickoff style casual fans are accustomed to seeing in the NFL. This decision not only aligns the UFL with the expected football traditions but also accentuates its forward-thinking approach, which balances tradition with innovation.

Field Goals

The UFL will keep things simple when it comes to Field Goals. They’re worth 3 points as usual and adhere to standard rules. But there is an interesting twist. Possession after a missed field goal is determined by the spot of the kick: if it’s within the receivers’ 25-yard line, they gain possession at the 25-yard line; however, if the kick is beyond the 25-yard line, possession is granted at the spot where the kick occurred.

Punting

The UFL has some… interesting punting rules. Touchbacks will come out to the 25-yard line just like in the NFL. However, in the UFL, if a punt goes out of bounds inside the 25-yard line, the ball comes back out to the 25-yard line. This hurts the Punter position as a whole and eliminates one of the most exhilarating plays for Punters: the Coffin Corner Punt. For comparison, during the 2023 XFL season, only 19 punts landed inside the 10-yard line, while the USFL, allowing the coffin corner punt, saw 34 punts in the same range. This out-of-bounds rule will make it artificially harder for Punters and it actually eliminates excitement on special teams.

It should also be mentioned that Punt Returners will still be able to call for a Fair Catch when fielding a punt, a rule that, while aimed at safety, actually detracts from the excitement of returns. An alternative approach, such as the CFL’s “Halo Rule”, where no fair catches are allowed but Returners are protected by a 5-yard halo, would be the safer option with regard to player safety and would ensure that nearly every punt is returned, therefore creating more opportunities for exciting plays.

PATs

The UFL’s decision to remove the option to kick the 1-point PAT has been met with some pushback from fans as it is thought to negatively affect Kickers and Long Snappers who are now provided with even fewer opportunities to showcase their skills. The league will follow the XFL’s point-after system, where after a touchdown, a team can try for;

  • 1 point from the opponent’s 2-yard line

  • 2 points from the opponent’s 5-yard line

  • 3 points from the opponent’s 10-yard line

While some argue that removing Kickers from the PAT process adds excitement, it’s crucial to acknowledge that allowing Kickers to attempt PATs provides valuable opportunities for them to showcase consistency and refine a skill they will use so often in the NFL. This change will significantly impact the number of attempts Kickers make in a season. When comparing the total number of kicking attempts by Brandon Aubrey in the USFL, where PATs were kicked, and Taylor Russolino in the XFL, where PATs were not kicked, a stark contrast can be seen concerning their respective opportunities. Aubrey attempted nearly 45 more kicks than Russolino during the 10-week season, and this rule change will undoubtedly impact player development. The supposed excitement added to the game by removing Kickers from the PAT process will not be enough to justify the loss of skill development for Kickers and Long Snappers.

Misc. Rules

In addition to the various changes listed above, the UFL’s rule book includes several other notable rules regarding special teams’ play. Among these rules are penalties for delaying the start of a half, which will incur a loss of 15 yards from the spot of the kickoff, ensuring that the UFL kickoffs will stay on time. Kickers and Punters will be assigned jersey numbers ranging from 0-49 and 90-99, potentially reintroducing the iconic #0 jersey for specialists like Marquette King and Brad Wing. Finally, the UFL will enforce the following rules concerning personal fouls on special teams;

  • Running into the Kicker occurs if a defensive player makes contact with the kicking leg or foot, even if the Kicker is airborne, or slides underneath the Kicker, preventing them from returning both feet to the ground. This violation incurs a loss of five yards from the previous spot.

  • Roughing the Kicker occurs if a defensive player contacts the plant leg of the Kicker while his kicking leg is still in the air or makes contact when both of the Kicker’s feet are on the ground. This infraction results in a loss of 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down.

  • Roughing the holder occurs if a defensive player forcibly contacts the holder during a placekick. This infraction results in a loss of 15 yards from the previous spot and an automatic first down.

Final Thoughts

Overall, the UFL’s special teams rules offer a mix of tradition and innovation, with most rule changes aimed at increasing excitement on the field. While some fans may be disappointed to no longer see coffin corner punts, the adoption of the USFL-style kickoff and the XFL-style PATs should make the game more enjoyable for casual fans. As we await the start of the UFL’s inaugural season, one thing is certain; the field flipper’s handbook will serve as essential reading for fans and players alike as we kickoff into this exciting new era of Spring Football.

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