You know, some say Canton is the East Rutherford of Ohio.
The USFL’s New Jersey Generals are on the move. But they are still going to be far away from the Garden State. The FOX-owned operation announced Wednesday the Generals and Pittsburgh Maulers will be based in Ohio for the second season of the revived spring league.
The USFL played its entire 2022 regular season in Birmingham, Alabama, and then held the playoffs in Canton, where the Pro Football Hall of Fame is located. It appears set to have four hub cities this season. Canton joins Birmingham (the hometown Stallions and New Orleans Breakers) and Memphis (the hometown Showboats and Houston Gamblers).
The league has yet to announce where the other two teams — the Michigan Panthers and Philadelphia Stars — will be located. Both regions were previously reported as hub city candidates. Logic would suggest Detroit — more specifically, Eastern Michigan’s nearby Ypsilanti campus — gets the nod. Because if Philly was the pick, wouldn’t the Generals go there?
The USFL says it plans to have its teams playing in their host cities at some point. And growing from one regular season hub in Year 1 to three or four in Year 2 certainly backs that assertion up. That said, we will remain convinced the Generals will never play a snap in New Jersey — or anywhere in the region — until they actually do it.
Trying to make spring football happen here is a waste of time. The new new XFL — about to relaunch in a few weeks — finally learned that lesson and passed on the market after the Hitmen and Guardians gained no traction. And the Generals have made no obvious effort to try to generate any local buzz or interest. So why would it make business sense to try to force a team into MetLife Stadium (or Red Bull Arena or Rutgers or Montclair State)? It would not, of course.
Moreover, do not lose sight of what the USFL is: The Spring League, dressed up with a brilliant marketing gimmick and better television distribution. It’s cheap programming with the nostalgia of the original USFL mixed in. Of course you are going to name one of the teams after the one Donald Trump once owned if there is no risk.
But once there is? It will be time to dust off the intellectual property of the Chicago Blitz or Denver Gold or Los Angeles Express. They already went that route when the Tampa Bay Bandits became the Showboats overnight. Besides, FOX is only going to float this thing for so long. Especially if the XFL — which seems to have a lot more vision behind it — succeeds.