United States Football League

Around the USFL

by Fran Stuchbury
July 8, 2022 - United States Football League (USFL)

The Birmingham Stallions defeated the Philadelphia Stars, 33-30, to win the inaugural United States Football League Championship and draw the 2022 season to a close.

The title tilt may have been the best game of the season, featuring plenty of offense for both teams.

The Stallions once again relied on the rush with Bo Scarbrough leading the way with 135 of the team's 175 yards.

With Matt Colburn II out with an injury, the Stars only ran for 80 yards. Dexter Williams, who signed a few days before the championship, had 29 rushing yards and 73 receiving yards.

The Stars even put wide receiver Chris Rowland in the backfield several times, carrying the ball three times for 29 yards.

Both starting quarterbacks left the game due to injuries. The Stallions J'Mar Smith exited in third quarter due to a leg cramp with Alex McGough taking his place. The Stars' Case Cookus suffered a worse fate, leaving the game with a broken fibula.

Prior to being injured Cookus was having an outstanding game, completing 17 of 29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns.

Here are highlights from his performance.

Already missing Colburn and star cornerback Channing Stribling, the loss of Cookus proved to be too big a hurdle for Philadelphia to overcome. K.J. Costello took over after Cookus, and Birmingham's opportunistic defense once again made a big play.

Stallions linebacker Scooby Wright intercepted Costello's first pass and returned it 46 yards for a score with 2:53 left to give the Stallions a commanding 33-23 lead.

The game was played in Canton, Ohio instead of Birmingham, where the USFL staged its entire 10-week regular season. The venue is a smaller stadium with 23,000 capacity that was mostly filled. The game had a championship atmosphere, and it gave additional fans an opportunity to watch the USFL in person. The USFL could consider having the championship back in Canton next season.


Aired on FOX, the USFL Championship drew 1,517,000 viewer, peaking at 1,834,000 viewers from 10:30-10:45 ET. It was the most watched game since week one of the USFL season.

USFL Championship: The 10 top plays from Stallions vs. Stars classic


Executive Vice President of Football Operations Daryl Johnston mentioned the USFL hopes to have a second hub city in the North for the 2023 season.

Games in which the hometown Stallions did not play drew very small crowds, impacting the television product. With nearly empty stands, some games looked like little more than scrimmages. With the XFL playing in home markets in 2023, the USFL may accelerate its timetable to play in home cities with each of its eight teams.

The league should consider setting a schedule for the entire season and establishing regular game times. The USFL should set television game times in advance and not two weeks prior to each weekend of action as it did this season. If it can maintain the same television windows every week, ratings should increase as viewers are more easily able to locate broadcasts. Saturday nights on national television on FOX or NBC have consistently drawn the best television ratings. Later in the season the USFL would still be able to flex games to show better matchups just as the NFL does.

The league should adjust the size of regular season rosters. The USFL started the season allowing teams to activate just 38 players. To save a precious roster spot Michigan Panthers Head Coach Jeff Fisher opted to have punter Michael Carrizosa, who did not kick field goals while at San Jose State, handle both kicking and punting responsibilities... with disastrous results. That move cost the Panthers several wins. Midway through the season the league increased the rosters to 40 active players, but the last week of the season the Tampa Bay Bandits chose not to place a kicker on the roster so they could carry more linemen. They had to go for two after every touchdown, and they missed all of them in a 21-18 setback to the Birmingham Stallions. The league should expand rosters further, removing the temptation to combine positions while giving teams additional depth.

The league could look at changing rules on defense to help improve the passing game. USFL First Team quarterback Kyle Sloter of the New Orleans Breakers threw more interceptions, 11, than touchdowns, nine. During the 2020 XFL season Houston Roughnecks quarterbacks threw 15 touchdowns and four interceptions in just five games. Los Angeles Wildcats quarterback Josh Johnson had 11 touchdowns and two interceptions in five games as well.

In only two of the 10 weeks was the OurSports Central Offensive Player of the Week given to a quarterback. Both were awarded to Philadelphia Stars passers, Bryan Scott in week two and Case Cookus in week eight.

USFL teams ran the ball heavily with an emphasis on ball control. Some rules changes to help improve the passing game will benefit the USFL in the long-term. Longer training camps along with returning players should help chemistry.

As a league, the USFL needs to improve communications. It should send out more press releases and team reports. The league should get more team media writers on board to issue stories every week. If one didn't follow the Philadelphia Stars on Twitter, for example, it was difficult to know that two key players, running back Matt Colburn II and cornerback cornerback Channing Stribling, were not able to play in the USFL Championship due to injuries. For a league hoping to grow betting on its games, that's a critical omission.

FOX needs to share its USFL content with other outlets and not just produce news from FOX Sports people such as RJ Young and Colin Cowherd. The more media outlets that cover the USFL, the better. Local interest will be crucial as the league opens in more home markets.

USFL Completes Season

Congratulations go out to the USFL for completing a season. Back in 2019 the Alliance of American Football folded after eight weeks due to money issues. In 2020 the XFL season ended after five weeks due to COVID-19.

The USFL finished a 10-week regular season in Birmingham and then the playoffs semifinals and championship in Canton, Ohio. Television ratings proved showed there was a lot of interest in watching games on television. More than 1.5 million fans watched the title game on a holiday weekend.

With an off-season to fine-tune its product, there is every reason to believe that we will see a better football product on the field and on television next season.

• Discuss this story on the United States Football League message board...

United States Football League Stories from July 8, 2022

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer(s), and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

Sports Statistics from the Stats Crew
OurSports Central