USFL Alternative History: 1985 to...

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6 hours ago, neo_prankster said:

Are there still tensions between the Bucs and Bandits in the Tampa market?


Also, I would imagine this song being used in some capacity at Bandits games...


I agree!

By the way, just joined here and i mostly joined thanks to this league. I liked every bit of it and I can't wait to see where it goes from here.

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OK, here it is, my final entry of annual updates into the alternative history of the USFL.  I hope you all have enjoyed it.  I am sure I could do it all again with all kinds of different results, and there are some decisions I wish I would have rethought, but all in all I think it turned out to be pretty decent.  I will be adding one more image, the 20 remaining franchises, so look out for that. 


2017 USFL Season

The 2016-2017 offseason was dominated by speculation on contraction.  While owners met in a series of closed-door meetings, reviewing the financial stability of the league, competitiveness and the requirements of current television contracts in an effort to create not only a financially viable contraction strategy, but one which would not lead to an imbalance of talent, the media had a field day with speculation.  Nearly every team in the league was at one point in time named as a potential contraction case.  Most trusted league analysts stuck to a pretty short list of potential contraction franchises, comprised mostly of those teams with weaker ownership  groups, such as Pittsburgh, Denver, Baltimore and New Orleans, or with franchises which had significant difficulties at the box office, such as Atlanta, Chicago and San Jose.  Of course, much of the league’s finances were not known even to those who were solid analysts of the league’s on-field dynamics.  The Gridiron Network, was, of course, silent, on anything that did not have the league’s seal of approval on it, focusing instead on the usual issues of team needs in the offseason and comparisons (always favorable) between the USFL and the upstart XFL.


When the announcement came in late November, there were 20 cities which were again able to breathe easy, and two which were immediately up in arm.  What shocked many was that the two cities that had been selected for contraction were not recent expansion locations, or even franchises with histories of failure, but two cities which between them had four championships and rich histories.  Of course, what had not been known at the time by most outside the league was that both franchises had major issues with stadium contracts and both had been artificially inflating attendance numbers through giveaways and ticket deals which helped to hide their weak financial positions. 


League commissioner Dick Ebersol made the announcement in a pre-Thanksgiving press conference, apparently hoping to get minimal coverage in light of the big NFL holiday games the next day.  The New Orleans Breakers would be merging with the New England Sea Devils, and that franchise would abandon its Boston-Hartford split schedule, which had been largely unsuccessful. The agreement allowed both franchises to retain their top talent on the new conflated franchise, and for the first time since 1983 the Boston Breakers would return. 


A similar nod towards tradition occurred with the other merger, which saw the San Jose Samurai absorb, almost in its entirety, the staff and roster of the Central Division Champion Cleveland Invaders.  The Invaders had qualified for the playoffs 4 years running, and yet were a financial mess, overspending on players and suffering with a stadium deal that actually provided more profit to the NFL’s Browns than to the Invaders for every Invader game.  And so the Invaders would return to the Bay Area after an absence of nearly 20 years (1998-2017) and, once again, Cleveland would see a football team leave for greener pastures. 


The league restructured into 4 divisions of 5 teams, with the Breakers joining New Jersey, Philly, DC and Baltimore in the Northeast,  The Bay Area Invaders joining Seattle, Arizona, Denver and LA in the west and a reshuffled Central and Southeast divisions which managed to retain the rivalries of Birmingham and Memphis, Tampa and Jacksonville, Michigan and Chicago and San Antonio and Houston.  Pittsburgh seemed the big loser in all of this, breaking their division rivalry with the Stars, and now having to deal not only with the Panthers each year, but games in Texas, far from their fanbase.  Of course, the struggling LA Express were now faced with a tough rival to the north and the fans in both Washington and New Jersey had to worry about a much more balanced division if they hoped to return to the playoffs.


By January the mechanics of the contraction had largely been worked out and all attention turned to the USFL Draft.  Several USFL squads attempted to shore up weaknesses with big name signings.  LA snapped up CAL QB Davis Webb, and Chicago snagged Notre Dame’s Deshon Kizer to compete with Nate Sudfeld in their QB race.  San Antonio tried to find a bellweather back in Oklahoma product Joe Mixon, as did Pittsburgh, snabbing Toledo speedster Kareem Hunt.  However, when the dust settled on the 2017 season, the biggest pickup was midround RB Alvin Kamara, picked in the Territorial Draft by the Memphis Showboats.  Kamara proved to be a dynamic playmaker who blended perfectly with the Showboat offense, taking pressure off of the aging arm of Jason Campbell.


The only NFL defections of note for the USFL in 2016-2017 were the departure of WR Robert Woods to the LA Express, LB Kiko Alonso from the Dolphins to the Blitz, RB Knile Davis to the Bulls and troubled DT Marcell Dareus from Buffalo to the Philadelphia Stars.  Losses by the USFL included Atlanta RB Mike Tolbert (Dallas of XFL), WR Rueben Randle (KC of NFL) and All-USFL DT Aaron Donald of Pittsburgh to the NFL’s Buffalo Bills, a definite upgrade over Dareus. 


The season played out much to form, as 2016’s top teams proved again to be strong playoff contenders.  Reinforced by the contraction, both Boston and Bay Area saw won their divisions, whle the only real dropoff of top teams came with the fall of the fall of the Seattle Orcas, which many ascribed to injuries, including the loss of their signal caller, Marcus Mariota for 5 weeks.


Boston, led by USFL Coach of the Year for both 2016 and 2017, Bruce Arians, ran roughshod over the Northeast Division, sweeping New Jersey and Washington before beating both for a 3rd time each in the playoffs.  Meanwhile, on the other coast, 2nd year QB Dak Prescott adapted well to the Bay Area, teaming up with former Samurai WR Desean Jackson for 12 TD’s in 14 games, while longtime Samurai RB Marshawn Lynch finished with his best rushing total in 4 years, finishing only behind Denver’s Doug Martin for the rushing title.  Little noticed, but devastating throughout the season was the Arizona defense.  Early losses kept attention off of Arizona for most of the season, but a late 4 game winstreak placed them in the playoffs where their stalwart D proved decisive.


The Ryan Shazier-led defense of the Wranglers shut out Michigan in the Divisional round (17-0) and held the defending champions to only 10 points, which allowed the often erratic offense just enough room to eek out a 13-10 win in Tampa.  Most expected the party to be over when the Wranglers faced off against the Breakers in the league championship game.  Boston had overpowered its Northeast Divison foes by scores of 35-14 and 31-19 and both the experts and the Vegas bookies had the Breakers as heavy favorites to bring the crown to Boston.   But, once again the Wrangler defense proved up to the task.   In addition to holding the Breakers out of the endzone, allowing only 4 field goals all game, the Wrangler D scored a decisive TD in the 3rd quarter when FS Damarious Randall took a gamble and jumped a slant route intended for Breaker wideout Jameson Crowder, returning the INT 27 yards for a score.  The Wrangler ground game, led by Joique Bell was efficient in both shortening the game and providing Arizona QB Luke McCown with convertible short 3rd downs, and when the fat lady sang, the Wranglers had garnered a 20-12 win and their second USFL Championship. 


2017 USFL Final Standings






*BOS     11-3

*NJ          9-5

*WSH      8-6

PHI          6-8

BLT          4-10




*TBY     10-4

*MEM     8-6

BIR         7-7

ATL         5-9

JAX         3-11




*MGN     8-6

HOU       7-7

CHI         7-7

SAN        6-8

PIT         4-10


*BAY     10-4

*ARZ       9-4-1

DEN        7-7

SEA         6-8

LA           4-9-1












2017 USFL Playoffs

Divisional Round         Boston (1) d. Washington(8)         Tampa Bay(2) d. Memphis(7)

                                    New Jersey(6) d. Bay Area(3)       Arizona(5) d. Michigan(4)


Semifinal Round          Boston(1) d. New Jersey(6)          Arizona(5) d. Tampa Bay(2)


2017 USFL Championship      Arizona 20    Boston 12


2017 USFL Awards

2017 USFL Most Valuable Player:  D. Prescott, QB, Bay Area

2017 USFL Coach of the Year:   B. Arians, Boston

2017 USFL Rookie of the Year:  A. Kamara, RB, Memphis


2017 USFL Relocation, Expansion, Logo & Uniform News

1.  The San Jose Samurai and Cleveland Invaders were merged and played as the Bay Area Invaders, with home games at San Jose State University’s CEFCU Stadium.  They retained the identity and logos of the longstanding Invaders and marketed the merger as a homecoming for the Bay Area’s founding USFL franchise.


2.  The New Orleans Breakers and New England Sea Devils were merged, taking on the logos and moniker of the Boston Breakers.  While the Breakers had a much richer history in New Orleans, the return to Boston was again heralded as a triumph of the USFL’s “Back to basics” nostalgic turn on their recent troubles.   Boston drew exceptionally well at BC’s Alumni Stadium, far better than they had when the team split time with Hartford as the New England Sea Devils. 




2017 USFL Head Coaches & Franchise Players










Cam Cameron

M. McGloin

S. Vereen

K. Alonso



Bruce Arians

R. Mallett

R. Turbin/A. Blue

K. VanNoy



Jim Zorn

B. Osweiler

B. Tate/G. Tate

Sean Lee



Joe Vitt

G. Smith

L Miller

M. Dareus



Jack Del Rio

D. Brees

B. LaFell

H. Clinton-Dix










J. Harbaugh

C. Redman

B. Quick

A. Branch



Jim Fassel

AJ McCarren

M. Ingram

D. McCourty



Wally Buono

C. Ponder

K. Davis/K. Benjamin

B. Spikes



K. Shanahan

J. Campbell

A. Kamara

M. Wright



B. Davis

C. Kaepernick

D. Johnson

G. Atkins










Ted Cotrell

N. Sudfeld/D. Kizer

D. Bowe

B. Flowers



Doug Marone

R. Nassib

J. Wilder Jr.

W. Mercilus



Sean McVey

M. Sanchez

L. Bell

K. Dansby



Ben McAdoo

D. Orlovsky

K. Hunt

M. Claiborne



Joe Philbin

B. Petty

J. Mixon/A. Cooper

D. Bowers










H. Jackson

L. McCown

J. Bell/T. Gabriel

R. Shazier



Mike Sherman

D. Prescott

M. Lynch/D. Jackson

V. Gholston



G. Cunningham

V. Young

D. Martin

C. Finnegan



Corey Chamblin

D. Webb/R. Stanzi

R. Woods

B. Carter



Chip Kelly

M. Mariota

R. Hillman

C. Liuget


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Very nicely done. Shame to see it come to an end.

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Best thing to happen on these boards in a very long time. Has inspired me to do something very similar. I’ve been working on it for about a week

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20 hours ago, WideRight said:

2017 USFL Relocation, Expansion, Logo & Uniform News

1.  The San Jose Samurai and Cleveland Invaders were merged and played as the Bay Area Invaders, with home games at San Jose State University’s CEFCU Stadium.  They retained the identity and logos of the longstanding Invaders and marketed the merger as a homecoming for the Bay Area’s founding USFL franchise.

I don't really like the idea of the San Jose and Cleveland merging to becoming the Bay Area Invaders. Personally i would drop the Invaders name and call the team the Bay Area Shoguns. Mostly due to the fact that the Invaders left Oakland and the Bay Area due to the stadium issues in Oakland. If i was living in Oakland back then i would be mad as heck and knowing they would merge with the Samurai's would make me irritated. I know the Oakland Invaders where a staple of the USFL for so long but them leaving was like burning bridges with their fans and supporters. I personally think calling the team the Shoguns would make more since since the Samurai's won championships during their time.

So that just me. 

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aw, it's over? crap.


Ah well, really fun while it lasted. I'm more than happy with how the Generals fared. Think you could make a gallery of all the uniforms?

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Sucks to see this thread go. But it's been a great twist n turn of events along the way. Nice expansion teams and uniforms as well 

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Nice work on this thread, and good work on all the logos of the teams. I really enjoyed reading this "what-if" of the USFL surviving past the 80s, wish it could have happened like that in real life (well, maybe with the sole exception of Cleveland losing another team)


If I may ask, what was the font you used on the image you posted of the twenty USFL teams as of the 2017 season?

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I plan on doing a “what-if” myself here soon towards a former football league, do you mind if I use your league as a guideline for mine?  All of your unique ideas I would touch, I just meant for the formatting.

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How sad. Not only has one of my favorite threads of all time come to a close, but the PHENOMENAL New England Sea Devils identity was jettisoned for that of the Breakers.

Thanks for the outstanding effort, WideRight. (However, I'll NEVER forgive you for the Sea Devils' ignominious end. ;))   

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