UFL Preview - United Football League Betting
by Trevor Whenham - 10/7/2009
Tired of trying to handicap football games with almost unlimited information available? Looking to really gamble? Well, then betting on the United Football League might be just what you are looking for. The UFL's inaugural season starts on Thursday with shockingly little fanfare. Maybe people are just skeptical about new football leagues after the debacle of the XFL. Or maybe people just don't feel the need to watch any more football when both college football and the NFL are in the heart of their seasons. Either way, if you can find somewhere to bet on the UFL then you won't be up against much betting competition, and the oddsmakers will be as clueless as you are for once. That might be attractive. To help you in your efforts, here's a quick primer of the new league:
The basics: There are just four teams in the league. The Las Vegas Locomotives, New York Sentinels, Florida Tuskers, and California Redwoods. New York will play in Hartford, at Citi Field, and at Giants Stadium. Florida will split time between St. Petersburg and Orlando. The Redwoods will borrow the home field of the San Francisco Giants. Las Vegas will, strangely, play one of their games in L.A. If you are wondering how the league is going to get any traction when no one knows where they are playing from week to week then you aren't the only one. Each team will only play six games - a home and road game against each other team. The games will be broadcast on Versus and HDNet. The top two teams will play in the Championship game in Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 27. If, that is, the league can last that long. The team owners are mostly what you would expect - rich old white guys. There is one notable exception, though - Florida is owned by the same group that owns the Tampa Bay Rays.
Early odds: It isn't particularly easy to find places that have set odds for the games, but they are out there. Las Vegas is favored by a touchdown when they host California in the league opener on Thursday night. Home team Florida is favored by four over New York on Saturday night.
Coaching staffs: The league hasn't skimped on their head coaches. Three of the head coaches are former NFL top men - Dennis Green in California, Jim Haslett in Florida, and Jim Fassel in Las Vegas. New York is headed by Ted Cottrell, a long-time NFL assistant who was passed over for several NFL head coaching gigs. The rest of the staffs include a few recognizable names - Jon Gruden's brother Jay is the offensive coordinator in Florida - but none of the caliber of the head coaches.
California Redwoods: Like most of the teams in the league, the Redwoods have a few surprisingly recognizable names on the roster. Mike McMahon, the Rutgers product who started games for the Lions and Eagles, is one of the quarterbacks for the team. Other NFL refugees include running back Obafemi Ayanbadejo and wide receiver BJ Sams. The team might have some star power watching games from the stands - Denzel Washington's son John David is a running back for the squad. He was signed by the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2006 after playing college ball at Morehouse.
Florida Tuskers: Brooks Bollinger could never find a chance to play in the NFL, but he should get that opportunity for the Tuskers. He'll have a couple of guys with plenty of NFL experience to hand it off to - Tatum Bell and Michael Pittman. They have some names on defense as well. Safety Dexter Jackson was the Super Bowl MVP when Tampa Bay took the Super Bowl trophy. Linebacker Odell Thurman was a highly-regarded second round pick out of Georgia in 2005, and he had a strong rookie year for the Bengals, so it seems surprising that he burnt out of the league this quickly. Another name that is a bit surprising to see is punter Todd Sauerbrun.
Las Vegas Locomotives: It's a statement of the status of this league that Las Vegas QB JP Losman is seen as the face of the league. A guy who flounders and ultimately fails as the QB of the Bills should not be the biggest star power in any league. His backup is Tim Rattay - another guy who has struggled in his NFL opportunities. Those two will have a couple of uninspiring journeymen receivers to throw to - Samie Parker and Tab Perry. Linebacker Teddy Lehman, the Oklahoma product, will remind Detroit of their many failures in drafting in the first couple of rounds in the Matt Millen era.
New York Sentinels: Remember when Quinn Gray was a backup QB in Jacksonville and there was buzz that he had NFL starting potential? That didn't work out so well - he's with the Sentinels. Ingle Martin is there too after bouncing around NFL rosters for a couple of years. Beyond those two there are a couple of surprising names on this roster. NFL troublemaker Koren Robinson will line up at wide receiver, and formerly retired defensive ed Simeon Rice is attempting to make a comeback. Nepotism is alive and well in New York as well - tight end TJ Cottrell is head coach Ted's son.
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