2012 UFL season
|2012 United Football League season|
|Duration||September 26, 2012 – October 19, 2012|
|2012 UFL Championship Game|
|Champion||Las Vegas Locomotives|
The 2012 UFL season was the fourth and final season of the United Football League. Four teams began what was originally scheduled to be an eight-game schedule beginning September 26, 2012. The league ceased operations on October 20, 2012, after four weeks, extensive financial problems and dismal attendance figures. At the time of the cessation, the Las Vegas Locomotives had compiled a perfect season to date, thus by default giving them their third UFL Championship.
The league originally stated it would resume the season some time in spring 2013, but the majority of two teams' players filed legal action against the league that winter to claim unpaid salaries, and the league did not set up the necessary agreements to continue by the time spring 2013 had come along. One of the four teams (the Virginia Destroyers) allowed its business license to lapse and folded; the assets of the other franchises were stored in a warehouse in Florida, with the league being left in limbo since the suspension.
The league, which had coerced the resignation of commissioner Michael Huyghue after the 2011 season, had closed all of its offices and remained completely silent throughout most of winter, spring and early summer 2012, raising doubt about a potential 2012 season or even if the league, which had suffered heavy financial losses throughout its existence, would continue at all. League management rested with two of its owners, Bill Mayer and William Hambrecht, while football operations were handled by Las Vegas team president, head coach and general manager Jim Fassel.
For the first time in league history, there was no expansion, contraction, or relocation of any UFL franchises, with all four teams and markets returning from the previous season. The Hartford Colonials, which had been officially "suspended" prior to the 2011 season, did not return and were removed from the league's Web site.
On September 5, 2012, an anonymous source tipped The Virginian-Pilot that the start of the 2012 season, originally slated for September 19 on the schedule released July 26, would be delayed one week. The league confirmed the news the next day, also indicating that the championship game would be delayed two weeks instead of one. Difficulties in securing workman's compensation insurance prompted the delay. Players began reporting for training camp the week of September 17, with the abbreviated camps running through the following weekend.
By Week 2 of the regular season, the league began experiencing severe financial shortfalls, sparked in part by drastically reduced attendances at all three stadiums at which the league had played to that point (the Locomotives' Week 2 attendance at kickoff was only 601 fans), as well as the UFL's continued, systemic delays in payment stemming back to at least the 2010 season. The delayed payments (players were only paid $1,000 of the $7,000 owed to them after their first two games) prompted rumors of possible strike action or walkouts from the league's players beginning in Week 3. One agent who represented three UFL players went so far as to recommend that his clients not practice or play lest they risk injury. Virginia Destroyers owner and UFL president Bill Mayer and Sacramento owner Paul Pelosi in a joint on-air interview with CBS Sports Network on October 5, confirmed that the UFL had indeed not yet issued game checks to its players for 2012, but promised that the league would fulfill its wage obligations to its players and coaches. The Destroyers players again threatened to not play the week 4 contest without a personal guarantee of payment, which the ownership had not yet offered, and that the team's earlier promise of a payment by October 31 would not be sufficient. After the week 4 contests were held, and attendance continued to get even worse (the Virginia Destroyers' Week 4 home game was so poorly attended that the league refused to release an attendance total), the league suspended operations and arranged to pay for all of its players to return to their homes. As of November 3, 2012, the UFL still had not paid the players for their time; several players set a deadline for November 8 before pursuing legal action against the league.
On January 16, 2013, a coalition of approximately 70 players from the Nighthawks and Locomotives served papers to league owner William Hambrecht in order to file a class-action lawsuit to claim their pay. The Destroyers players also have not received any additional pay apart from the $1,000 they received during the season; player liaison Chris Greisen lost contact with Destroyers owner Bill Mayer shortly after the season ended. The Mountain Lions' players have been paid in full for their work. Hambrecht later demanded that the lawsuit be thrown out on a contract technicality that stated all pay disputes be resolved through a committee that, according to the players' attorney, does not even exist. A hearing on the lawsuit was scheduled for June 2013, at which point a Nevada judge turned the case over to a third-party arbiter. The players won the lawsuit and were awarded a combined $2.4 million in back pay in 2014, money that as of 2016 remained unpaid.
A separate lawsuit involves four assistant coaches of the Las Vegas Locomotives, who are also suing for unpaid salary. That lawsuit was also filed in January and is being handled by the same attorneys.
Yet another lawsuit was filed in July 2013, this one against Paul Pelosi. The five litigants in that case include former Mountain Lions defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, who says he was not paid $250,000. Bresnahan eventually won the lawsuit and was paid for his services.
Rule changes for 2012
Prior to the season, the UFL made two notable on-field rule changes: The league expanded each team's roster from 50 to 54 players, four of whom were designated as practice squad players. The league also moved its kickoffs back up from the 30-yard-line to the 35-yard-line, consistent with changes made by the NFL (in 2011) and NCAA (also in 2012).
The Sacramento Mountain Lions, on August 6, announced that they would be moving to Raley Field, a baseball park in West Sacramento, California. The Mountain Lions, 2011's attendance leader, played their previous two seasons at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento but chose not to extend their two-year lease on that stadium.
The Virginia Destroyers returned to the Virginia Beach Sportsplex while the Omaha Nighthawks again played in TD Ameritrade Park. The Las Vegas Locomotives (which had previously contemplated a move to Salt Lake City) remained in Las Vegas despite poor attendance for its lone home game in 2011; the team ultimately played its two home games at University of Nevada, Las Vegas's Sam Boyd Stadium in Whitney after discussion and negotiations with Cashman Field, a Triple-A baseball stadium currently home to the Las Vegas 51s. Only after the Locos paid back rent from the 2011 season did Sam Boyd Stadium agree to host the team for the 2012 season, but only for the first two games.
|Team||2012 Coach||2011 Coach||Reason for leaving||Story/Accomplishments|
|Omaha Nighthawks||Bart Andrus||Joe Moglia||Resigned||Moglia, who led the Nighthawks to a 1–4 (.200) record in his lone season as head coach (his first since leaving coaching to pursue a business career in the mid-1980s), left the league after the 2011 season to become head coach of the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers football team. Andrus, who was Moglia's offensive coordinator in 2011, had previously served as head coach of the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL in 2009 and the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe from 2001 to 2007.|
|Sacramento Mountain Lions||Turk Schonert||Dennis Green||Contract dispute||Green, who coached the Mountain Lions from their founding as the California Redwoods in 2009 and accrued a record of 8–11 (.421) in those three seasons, sued the UFL and the Mountain Lions for breach of contract on October 7, 2011. It was speculated that Green, who previously proposed using legal action to try and take control of the Minnesota Vikings in 1997, may have used the legal maneuver to wrest control of the team away from the Paul Pelosi-led consortium that owned it. Green had previously won a $990,000 arbitral award for work during the 2011 season, and a San Francisco Superior Court judge upheld this award in February 2014. However, Green has not collected on the award because the league lacked the assets to cover the debt. Green then sued two investors in the UFL, Bill Hambrecht and Paul Pelosi. Both denied personal responsibility on account that neither had personally guaranteed Green's salary (unlike the other coaches), and the judge in the case sided with the owners. Green was appealing the lawsuit and also suing Hambrecht and Pelosi for fraud and emotional damages; he died before a ruling on those lawsuits could be made.
This was Schonert's first ever head coaching position; his prior coaching positions have been almost exclusively at the level of quarterbacks coach.
|Virginia Destroyers||Kurt Schottenheimer||Marty Schottenheimer||Contract dispute||In 2011, Marty Schottenheimer led the Destroyers to a 4–1 (.800) season and a UFL title, the only professional championship of his coaching career. Marty abruptly resigned shortly before the start of the 2012 season and handed the head coaching reins to his younger brother Kurt, who served as the team's defensive coordinator in 2011. Marty was, at the time of his resignation, said to be on good terms with the team but would, like Green, later file legal action against the league for failure to pay. Marty eventually was paid $800,000 in a settlement. Marty was also diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease at the same time. Kurt is in his first ever head coaching position, having spent most of his 30-year career as a defensive assistant. He agreed to work for the league for free in order to continue collecting his NFL pension.|
In 2011, the UFL lacked national exposure for its games after two-year deals with Versus and HDNet expired, with the league relying instead on limited regional TV coverage. On July 26, 2012, the league announced a broadcast deal with CBS Sports Network that would see the network carry all of the league's games in 2012. Though the deal with CBSSN returned the UFL to national TV exposure (albeit generally on less widely distributed premium cable and satellite tiers than the regional sports networks that the UFL had utilized in 2011), the league received no rights fee from the network and in fact paid the network upfront for production costs (roughly $150,000 per telecast). An additional caveat of the CBSSN deal prevented live games from being simulcast online, in contrast to the previous three seasons where all televised games had been carried on the Internet (the league's Webmaster had left the league after 2011 as well, which may have also been a factor in the discontinuation of both the Webcasts and the league's centralized Web site).
Local radio broadcasts were abandoned in Virginia and Las Vegas for 2012; radio deals for Omaha and Sacramento continued, however, with Nighthawks games airing on KOZN and the Mountain Lions being split between KHTK and KTKZ.
The eight-week 2012 UFL schedule (4 home and away games for each team) was originally announced on August 1, 2012. Due to the above mentioned delay, the league released a revised schedule (shown below) on September 6, essentially moving the original Week 1 games, which would have been played on September 19 and 21, to the end of the schedule (November 14 and 16). The Championship Game, which was originally scheduled for November 16, was also moved to December 1, skipping over the crowded Thanksgiving rivalry weekend (which the UFL had not done in 2009 or 2010) and allowing teams to have a two-week break between the end of the regular season and the title game, which would have been a first for the UFL. Two other firsts were also included in the schedule: no bye weeks were scheduled during the regular season, and each team was given an unbalanced schedule (3 games with two teams and 2 games with the third team).
Because of the suspension of the season on October 20, 2012, no games were played beyond that date. As of that date, each team had played every other team once and one team twice, with two home games and two away games. The October 17 game between the Locomotives and the Nighthawks would end up serving as the de facto UFL Championship Game for the 2012 season; had the Nighthawks won that game, they would have tied for the league's best record with Las Vegas.
|1||Wednesday September 26||6:00 pm (PT)||Virginia Destroyers||Las Vegas Locomotives||VA 6, LV 19||Sam Boyd Stadium||2,500||CBS Sports Network|
|Friday September 28||8:00 pm (PT)||Omaha Nighthawks||Sacramento Mountain Lions||OMA 24, SAC 20||Raley Field||8,023|
|2||Wednesday October 3||6:00 pm (PT)||Omaha Nighthawks||Las Vegas Locomotives||OMA 6, LV 41||Sam Boyd Stadium||601|
|Friday October 5||7:00 pm (ET)||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Virginia Destroyers||SAC 29, VA 37||Virginia Beach Sportsplex||5,316 |
|3||Wednesday October 10||6:00 pm (PT)||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sacramento Mountain Lions||LV 20, SAC 9||Raley Field||5,210|
|Friday October 12||7:00 pm (CT)||Virginia Destroyers||Omaha Nighthawks||VA 10, OMA 38||TD Ameritrade Park||3,563|
|4||Wednesday October 17||8:00 pm (CT)||Las Vegas Locomotives||Omaha Nighthawks||LV 38, OMA 23||TD Ameritrade Park||2,234|
|Friday October 19||9:00 pm (ET)||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Virginia Destroyers||SAC 20, VA 17||Virginia Beach Sportsplex||Not Released|
Had the season continued as scheduled, the remaining games would have been played as follows:
|5||Tuesday October 23||8:00 pm (CT)||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Omaha Nighthawks||TD Ameritrade Park||CBS Sports Network|
|Thursday October 25||6:00 pm (ET)||Las Vegas Locomotives||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|6||Wednesday October 31||6:00 pm (PT)||Omaha Nightawks||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|Friday November 2||6:00 pm (PT)||Virginia Destroyers||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Raley Field|
|7||Wednesday November 7||6:00 pm (PT)||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Raley Field|
|Friday November 9||9:30 pm (ET)||Omaha Nighthawks||Virginia Destroyers||Virginia Beach Sportsplex|
|8||Wednesday November 14||6:00 pm (PT)||Sacramento Mountain Lions||Las Vegas Locomotives||Sam Boyd Stadium|
|Friday November 16||6:00 pm (CT)||Virginia Destroyers||Omaha Nighthawks||TD Ameritrade Park|
The 2012 UFL Championship Game would have been played on December 1 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. No venue had been chosen for the game at the time of the cessation.
|United Football League|
|Las Vegas Locomotives||4||0||0||1.000||118||47||W4|
|Sacramento Mountain Lions||1||3||0||.250||78||98||W1|
- Minium, Harry (July 26, 2012). Virginia Destroyers say they'll play games this fall. The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
- 2012 UFL Schedule
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