UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue addresses the media in Omaha (Photo courtesy of UFL).
League Also Moving Up its Opening Weekend
With the United Football League (UFL) Championship Game on tap for this Saturday in Omaha, Commissioner Michael Huyghue made some significant announcements regarding the league’s 2011 season on Wednesday. The third year of play for the UFL will start earlier than its predecessors, more specifically the first week in August, and each team will play two additional contests after the league stated it will increase its schedule to a 10-game slate in 2011.
“The intent is to begin play before the National Football League season begins, and to start incorporating Sundays into our football schedule,” Huyghue said of the extended schedule. “As the NFL preseason kicks in, most of their games are on Friday and Saturday, but their games at that time don’t count, and our games do. From a fan’s standpoint, you’re going to see a more competitive football game on Sundays during the NFL preseason in our games than you would in the National Football League.”
The NFL itself is undergoing intense discussions to decrease the number of preseason games while increasing the regular season schedule to an 18-game slate, a hot topic between its players and owners. Questions regarding the quality of the NFL preseason have been an ongoing concern for the league, and that is something which Huyghue and the UFL now look to use to their advantage.
“There has been more and more talk about the dissatisfaction with the NFL’s preseason,” he remarked. “The games don’t count and the stars typically don’t play. We’ve learned from this league that playing during the traditional football season is when fans are excited about watching good football. We think we can provide a superior entertainment value on Sundays, versus anything else that would be on during the NFL preseason.”
The UFL opened this past season in the middle of September, so its kickoff weekend would be roughly six weeks earlier next year. League officials have openly stated that it has no intentions to directly compete with the NFL during its regular season, and that is something to which Huyghue says the league will remain committed.
“I think we understand that the NFL’s there, it will always be king of the hill,” he confirmed. “I think we can carve our own niche as well. Sundays during the preseason, when the NFL typically doesn’t play, is a perfect opportunity.”
All five of the current UFL clubs will return in 2011, and Virginia will also come on board as an expansion team. UFL officials are also investigating possible cities for two additional franchises to enter the league.