New USFL Book

Re: New USFL Book

Postby JohnBowen » Sun Apr 30, 2017 6:55 pm

The book arrived Friday. I've been busy but through the first 28 pages.....EXCELLENT! This is a must read for anyone interested in the USFL.
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Re: New USFL Book

Postby Bryan » Mon May 01, 2017 1:31 pm

preeths wrote:One of my hopes is that the book addresses the business side of the league in an unbiased manner, showing why the fall was tempting for some owners and why they eventually eschewed the spring. I know as a young fan that decision always perplexed me, but after talking to administrators and owners, I understood the debate and underlying economic realities better.


Paul, congratulations on your book. I will be ordering a copy. I still have (and refer to) my bindered copy of your "USFL Chronicle", which was groundbreaking. The Cohen 30 for 30 portrayed Trump as essentially killing the USFL, but it seemed like the USFL was kind of doomed from the start. The 'advised' team budget was based on the modest TV deal they had signed, but early in the first year of existence you had George Allen throwing money at NFL veterans. The team spending got out-of-whack right away, yet for some reason the USFL owners thought they could renegotiate their TV deal and everything would be fine.
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Re: New USFL Book

Postby preeths » Mon May 01, 2017 10:56 pm

JohnBowen wrote:The book arrived Friday. I've been busy but through the first 28 pages.....EXCELLENT! This is a must read for anyone interested in the USFL.

John, thank you so much! So glad to hear you're enjoying it.
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Re: New USFL Book

Postby preeths » Mon May 01, 2017 10:58 pm

Bryan wrote:
preeths wrote:One of my hopes is that the book addresses the business side of the league in an unbiased manner, showing why the fall was tempting for some owners and why they eventually eschewed the spring. I know as a young fan that decision always perplexed me, but after talking to administrators and owners, I understood the debate and underlying economic realities better.


Paul, congratulations on your book. I will be ordering a copy. I still have (and refer to) my bindered copy of your "USFL Chronicle", which was groundbreaking. The Cohen 30 for 30 portrayed Trump as essentially killing the USFL, but it seemed like the USFL was kind of doomed from the start. The 'advised' team budget was based on the modest TV deal they had signed, but early in the first year of existence you had George Allen throwing money at NFL veterans. The team spending got out-of-whack right away, yet for some reason the USFL owners thought they could renegotiate their TV deal and everything would be fine.

I wish I had kept a few copies of the USFL Chronicle as I get requests for it pretty frequently. You bring up some excellent points which I explore at length in the new book.
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Re: New USFL Book

Postby Bryan » Wed Jan 24, 2018 9:38 am

preeths wrote:I wish I had kept a few copies of the USFL Chronicle as I get requests for it pretty frequently. You bring up some excellent points which I explore at length in the new book.


I am about 3/4 of the way through your book. Very enjoyable....I look forward to reading a chapter of it each night when I can. I really like the comments of the guys who were in the USFL commissioner office (especially Dom Camera). They seemed to have a good grasp as to the ramifications of decisions being made, but the ownership group sometimes went their own way. Anyway, I wanted to get your thoughts on a few things:

1983 - teams had an unofficial salary cap of $1.5M. Certain people blame George Allen for spending too much money on NFL veterans, going against the 'USFL plan' of keeping costs down and developing their own stars. But I think somewhere in the book it says that the 1983 Blitz only spent $1.8M on salary, which isn't totally out of whack. Certain people blame the Panthers for signing three Steelers offensive linemen midyear, going against the 'USFL plan' of keeping costs down and only overspending on big name skill position players who can single-handedly increase ticket sales. The book never really mentions how expensive Pinney/McGriff/Dornbrook were, and the Panthers owner says the players weren't that expensive since they weren't making much with the Steelers. Did the Panthers & Blitz overspend in 1983?

1984 - After reading your book, in my opinion the massive expansion and ownership changes prior to the 1984 season is what killed the USFL. Steve Erhrardt was usually correct in his analysis, but he claims the USFL had to expand because Dixon was promised an expansion franchise when the USFL was founded. Be that as it may, it doesn't justify the USFL adding so many teams (especially San Antonio) when some of the current 'good' owners were already looking to get out of the league. It seemed very short-sighted to me that the USFL would think they were making money by collecting large 'expansion fees' from the new owners, who then right away wouldn't be able to meet team payrolls...in part due to having to fork over so much up-front cash to get into the USFL.

Trump - After reading your book, I don't think he really was the problem. He took over a franchise that was well-run but not all that successful on the field, paid a lot of money for NFL veterans (like George Allen did), and the Generals improved on the field. He could afford to do that and always met payroll. I think its important to note that while the Generals went from one of the bad USFL teams to one of the good USFL teams under Trump's ownership, its not like Trump bought so many great players that the other USFL teams simply couldn't compete with the Generals. I don't think the Generals ever won a postseason game...a far cry from the 1946-1949 AAFC Browns. Teams in the USFL could still be competitive by sticking with the original USFL plan of modest spending and good drafting; they didn't need to match Trump dollar for dollar.

More Trump - the problem was the new 1984 USFL owners were fools. Poorly run organizations, bankrupt owners. I'm not sure what the 'vetting process' was for the USFL. Even with the established 1983 USFL teams, attendance was acceptable but by no means spectacular. Tampa Bay and Denver were probably the best at drawing fans, and (coincidently or not) they were the only two teams that didn't lose substantial money initially. Why would you rush to add more teams to this mix? San Antonio had nothing (other than peculiarly attractive uniforms) going for them...no players, no stadium, no fans, crazy owner. I think Jacksonville was the only expansion franchise to put up decent attendance numbers, and they ended up folding anyways. On top of this, the new Chicago owner was immediately bankrupt, the new Express owner was eventually bankrupt, etc. Perhaps it was dumb luck and blatantly self-serving, but in my opinion it was genius of Trump to openly talk of moving to the fall and competing with the NFL in hopes of forcing some type of merger. The USFL was in such disarray that it probably would cease to exist in a couple years even if they kept playing in the spring. Many of the stable owners who were part of the 1983 startup already foresaw problems and sold their teams after one year...I think that is a very telling sign. Trump's best opportunity to have his Generals franchise continue to exist for many years would be to somehow get them into the NFL.

TV & ticket sales - I guess I should wrap this up. The initial USFL TV deal was essentially three years. The USFL teams would earn a fixed amount for those three years. Ticket sales for the most part remained stable. You didn't have some crazy deal where the Generals sign Herschel Walker and every home game is an 80,000 sellout. Most cases it was the opposite, a few franchises didn't draw well and those that were able to sell tickets sold them at a discounted rate. What I am getting at is that the USFL teams could fairly accurately predict the amount of incoming revenue...TV money was set and ticket sales weren't going to see some dramatic increase. Signing big name guys like Herschel Walker brought exposure, credibility, more TV viewers, and perhaps a modest increase in ticket sales, but it wasn't going to lift a franchise out of bankruptcy and into solvency. In fact, in some cases (like Steve Young and the Express) it was the opposite. So why did so many of the USFL owners feel the need to overspend? Did it really get them a competitive advantage? If it did, would that translate into a massive revenue increase? The Panthers and Stars already proved otherwise. That's the part that doesn't make sense to me.
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