Just got off the phone with Michael Huyghue, the commissioner of the UFL. Some notable items about the San Francisco/Sacramento franchise ...
- Huyghe said that one of the three home games in 2009, the league's inaugural season, would be played in Sacramento. He said that the league wants to test the market in San Francisco because it sees a potential opening there, especially if the 49ers build a new stadium in Santa Clara. If the 49ers remain in San Francisco -- i.e. if the 49ers' stadium plan fails -- then the UFL likely would look at a permanent home in Sacramento, which would better fit their target of non-NFL cities.
- The league has not yet decided where that single game in Sacramento will be played. Sacramento State and Sacramento City College both have been considered, although the league has yet to contact Sacramento city college about playing at 22,000-seat Hughes Stadium. The two games in San Francisco will be played at AT&T Park. If the number of games increases as expected in 2010, then the number of games played in Sacramento also would increase, Huyghue said.
- Huyghue said the league will yield to the public as far as whether notable players who have run afoul of the NFL - like Michael Vick and Adam Jones - will be part of the league. He said the UFL will conduct its own surveys and will monitor the comments section of blogs - like this one! - to gauge public opinion. "If there's an overwhelming sense that some guys are bad apples, then we will go in another direction," Huyghue said.
- Mostly, the league will be composed of players who did not make the NFL. Huyghue said there will be an attempt to regionalize the rosters. For example, the SF/Sacramento team will be composed of players from the NFC and AFC West of the NFL. The Las Vegas/Los Angeles franchise will target players from the AFC and NFC North. One can imagine the UFL and NFL competing for a certain caliber of player -- the Dominique Zeiglers or Thomas Claytons of the world -- who have wound up on an NFL practice squad in recent seasons.
- I asked why the league chose to play football in the fall when it will compete with the NFL, college and high schools for potential fans. Huyghue said that people associate football with autumn and not with spring. "You want to be playing football when the climate is right for playing," he said. "The average fan wants to have the ability to watch football Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday."
- As far as naming the teams, fans indeed will have an opportunity to pick the mascot. The league plans to have fan input on team names on its web site ...
-- Matt Barrows