Well, it finally happened: Former Giants coach Jim Fassel convinced a football team that he deserves another shot at being a head coach. Here’s the catch: That team isn’t in the NFL, and it’s not even in the NCAA, either.
(Hey, coaching in Vegas can’t be any more awkward than his ESPN spots.)
According to the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, the former Super Bowl runner-up agreed to become the head coach of Las Vegas’ entry into the UFL, the new upstart professional league that is designed to rival the NFL. The UFL is slated to start operations next fall, and while league sources wouldn’t confirm Fassel was on board, UFL Commissioner Michael Huyghue wouldn’t deny it, either, and quickly added that there were, “upcoming announcements about the league.”
Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? And by “ominous,” we mean “desperate” on the part of Fassel. How is it that a man who, by all accounts, was one whisker away from becoming head coach of the Redskins last winter falls all the way back to taking a job in a start-up league? And what kind of a career move is a UFL head job, anyway? Do we have any idea whether this league is even going to be solvent for a single season? Last time we checked, the XFL actually played a couple games, emphasis on “couple”. The UFL hasn’t played a single matchup yet, has yet to hold a draft or officially announce stadiums where teams are playing, and its opening weekend is a mere eight months away! Heck, they don’t even know all the cities that are going to be involved. It’s a total mess.
Making matters worse, the Canadian Football League, GM scandals and all, is considering moving back into the U.S. with a couple of teams to capitalize on the football vacuum created by the folding of the Arena Football League. Remember, this experiment didn’t go so well the first time, but hey, it’s a new era … and the CFL might be so desperate to add a new Rough Riders to their existing Roughriders that they’ll take that gamble. After all, a league with only one Roughriders team just isn’t diverse enough, is it?
(This is the only justification we can find for coaching in Las Vegas.)
For the sake of argument, let’s say the CFL adds two American teams — maybe in Portland, Ore. and, who knows, Hartford, Conn. (city is so desperate for a new pro team … and full of weird demographics … that it might just work there). The CFL has better funding and foundation to expand into America than the UFL has to get up and running. Unless the UFL has a great first year, it’s hard to see it staying afloat amidst competition from a league that would have a different product, just because the CFL starts playing much earlier than the UFL or NFL do. So, there’s another strike against Fassel’s decision to take the Vegas job.
In fact, the more we think about it, there’s only one way we can see justifying Fassel’s decision to take this UFL job: If he knew that the Vegas team was going to be called the Outlaws. That’s an outright great football nickname. The XFL had a Las Vegas Outlaws outfit, and the nickname seemed like a more honest combination of the old USFL’s Houston “Gamblers”, Memphis “Showboats”, Arizona “Wranglers” and Tampa Bay “Bandits”. It was a brilliant hybrid. Let’s just hope they bring it back.
For that matter, let’s hope they bring back as many of those old USFL team names as possible. What can possibly go wrong with a team called the “Showboats”?