As the NFL prepares for next week’s draft uncertain whether it will play in 2011, the United Football League is moving forward with plans for its third season, even though it, too, is dealing with uncertainties.
The league still has no TV contract. Expansion plans are in limbo, so the schedule can’t be finalized. Additionally, the league is still paying off creditors; about $100,000 in debt is tied to the two-time champion Las Vegas Locomotives.
"It doesn’t change our position," commissioner Michael Huyghue said Thursday after the UFL’s owners meeting in San Francisco. "We’re still committed to play in 2011."
Locomotives president and coach Jim Fassel is preparing for the May 2 UFL Draft, which will consist of 10 rounds for rookies who go drafted by the NFL. The Locos also were assigned 10 free agents who already have played professionally. That list is expected to be released next week.
"It was good to have the owners and the coaches together," Fassel said. "There’s a lot of stuff we’re having to react to. But it’s all doable, and we’ll be ready to go come August."
Huyghue said the NFL lockout, in its second month, has hampered the UFL’s attempt to lock up a TV deal, which also is tying up its game schedule.
"I was hoping (the lockout) would speed things up," Huyghue said. "But in reality it has slowed us down. We have to be on a channel that provides coverage for us if the NFL lockout ends and still grows with us. But we still have the prospect to go back to Versus or HDNet."
Huyghue said the league has two tentative schedules, one with a Friday-Saturday format that assumes the NFL and players will reach a contract agreement, and a Saturday-Sunday-Monday lineup in the event the lockout continues into the fall. In either case, Huyghue said the league plans to start the season on the weekend of Aug. 12 to 14.
The UFL is undecided on whether to add a sixth team, with Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City and Chattanooga, Tenn., under consideration. If a sixth team is added, the schedule will expand to 10 games. If the UFL remains a five-team league — Las Vegas, Sacramento, Omaha, Hartford and Virginia (replacing Florida) — the eight-game schedule will continue.
"We’re still talking to possible investors," Huyghue said. "We think we could get that sixth team up and running fairly quickly."
■ NOTES — The Locos nixed minicamp this year in a cost-cutting move, Fassel said. Instead, he’ll start training camp three days early in July for the 70 invitees. … The Locos elevated Dennis Therrell, a former UNLV assistant, from an unpaid assistant to tight ends coach. He replaces Mike Wilson, who became the Cleveland Browns’ wide receivers coach.
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.