SATURDAY UPDATE: The league that is always short of money is now trying to buy one more thing — time.
The cash-strapped United Football League announced Saturday it will postpone the second half of its season until the spring of 2013 before completing its scheduled eight-game season and holding its title game. The four-team league then plans to resume business as usual with a fall campaign in 2013.
This means the Virginia Destroyers will close out the 2012 portion of their season with a 1-3 record after Friday night’s 20-17 loss to Sacramento before a franchise-low announced crowd of 2,817 at the Sportsplex.
Saturday’s news is just the latest in a series of false-starts and abbreviated finishes for the four-year-old UFL, which has also endured delayed preseasons the past two years and ended the 2011 season after playing just four of its scheduled six games.
Once again, the league simply hasn't been able to pay its bills. A UFL official said the cost of worker’s compensation insurance was more than double what was anticipated, and this severely depleted the league’s financial resources before a game was even played.
The league kicked off its season anyway, but has spent the past four weeks generating more headlines from frustrated players sounding off about not getting paid than for anything that’s happened on the field.
Additionally, past financial problems have come home to roost. The latest came Thursday, when former Virginia Destroyers head coach Marty Schottenheimer filed a $2.3 million lawsuit against UFL founder William Hambrecht for unpaid wages and breach of contract.
Schottenheimer joins ex-Sacramento coach Dennis Green in turning to the courts for relief — Green filed a breach-of-contract suit against Sacramento owner Paul Pelosi over the summer.
In a statement released Saturday, Pelosi suggested that postponing the 2012 season will give the league a chance to tie up its financial loose ends.
“It is our first priority to take care of our players, coaches and staff, and then raise sufficient funds to take care of our other obligations and to resume fully-financed operations in 2013.”
Problem is, the UFL offered essentially these same sentiments when it truncated the 2011 season, only to be beset by even more financial woes in 2012.
VIRGINIA BEACH -- Sacramento capitalized on a series of Virginia mistakes and posted a 20-17 victory Friday night at the Sportsplex to deal the Destroyers the first home loss in the franchise's brief history.
The win was Sacramento's first this season. The Destroyers fell to 1-3 at the midway point of the United Football League's eight-game schedule -- which now will not be completed.
The Destroyers won all four of their home games during their debut 2011 season, including a victory in the UFL championship game. Two weeks ago, Virginia held off Sacramento 37-29 in the Destroyers' lone previous Sportsplex appearance this season.
Although no attendance figure was provided for Friday's game, the contest went off before what appeared to be easily the smallest of Virginia's home crowds.
Then again, the low turnout was hardly surprising given the late start -- 9 p.m. -- and the fact that after yet another turbulent week in the cash-strapped league, there were concerns over whether the game would even be played.
The players, meanwhile, have had intermittent practices and many have grown frustrated over not receiving their full pay. To their credit, the play on both sides was relatively crisp throughout. But Virginia lost three fumbles and had an interception; Sacramento went turnover-free. Making matters worse for the home team was that whenever the Destroyers misfired, the Mountain Lions usually made them pay:
--With Virginia leading 7-3 early in the second quarter, linebacker Kerry Neal was flagged for running into the punter. The call set up a fourth-and-1, which the Mountain Lions converted into a fresh set of downs. Two plays later, Tyrell Sutton evaded four Destroyers tacklers en route to a 38-yard touchdown run.
--Sacramento's Kyle Knox stripped Destroyers quarterback Chris Greisen midway through the third quarter, giving the ball to the Mountain Lions at the Virginia 27. J.D. Washington's 3-yard TD run boosted Sacramento's lead to 17-9.
--With the game tied at 17, Greisen had the ball slip out of his hands as he reared back to throw. Sacramento recovered at the Destroyers' 20. The play set up Fabrizio Saccia's 21-yard field goal that ended up being the game-winner.
Greisen threw a pair of 27-yard touchdown passes, one to Virginia Tech product David Clowney and the other to Cameron Graham. The scoring pass to Graham late in the third quarter pulled the Destroyers to within 17-15. Dominic Rhodes then took a swing pass and snaked through three defenders for the tying 2-point conversion.
The Destroyers' other points came when linebacker Tony Taylor and a host of other Virginia tacklers trapped Washington in the end zone for a safety. Officials initially ruled that Washington's forward progress was in the field of play, but Destroyers coach Kurt Schottenheimer's challenge led to a reversal.
Greisen finished with 21 completions in 32 attempts for 262 yards.
Rhodes ran for 47 yards on 11 carries and caught seven passes for 67 yards.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun