The Omaha World-Herald confirmed that the Nighthawks plan to play this fall, but the story is light on details. An unidentified source tells the paper that an announcement will be made in the next few days as to "the schedule, where they'll play, and who'll be on the staff." Well, that says a lot. We know Sacramento will be in the league, but that's about it. With Joe Moglia now at 1-AA Coastal Carolina, we know there will be a new head coach. But "where they'll play"? Is that a question?
Apparently it is. We can't assume that they'll play at TD Ameritrade Park apparently. Reasons why not range from it's too big (wasn't a problem in 2010), MECA charges too much (compared to what?), and Ameritrade is set up as a baseball facility. Fair enough. But where else would the Nighthawks play? My best guess is that it would be a high school stadium; probably Millard's Buell Stadium or Omaha Burke. Burke handles crowds of 10,000+ for the state track meet, so it might be the best alternative. UNO is currently converting Al Caniglia Field to a soccer layout, so that's no longer an option. I've even heard that the Trailer Park might be an option? A quick scan with Google maps indicate that a football field might physically fit in at BFE, though it probably would be tight. (Think what happened when Northwestern and Illinois played at Wrigley Field in 2010.) A bigger problem at BFE might be the capacity; I'd think the UFL needs more than 6500 seats to be viable.
A friend suggested that perhaps a temporary stadium could be set up, like at tennis and golf matches. An interesting idea...and the best location might be the Nighthawk's training facility at South Omaha's Kroc Center. It has a full football field with artificial turf. Add seating, porta-potties, and concession stands, and you've got a stadium. And with their own facility, the Nighthawks could keep the concession revenue. Of course, one hangup would be alcohol sales. I wouldn't expect the Salvation Army to allow beer sales. Same problem at high school fields as well.
But if the Nighthawks don't play downtown, it just adds to the perception that the UFL is barely scraping by and hasn't really resolved their core issues.
In other quick takes:
The NCAA will announce sanctions against Penn State tomorrow morning. I'm torn on this. I don't think this is an NCAA issue; I think it's a criminal issue that needs to be resolved there first. And the administrators at Penn State need to be held accountable in criminal court. But the outcry is so high for the Big Ten or NCAA to do something, they are acting. We'll find out just what tomorrow morning.
It'll be interesting how severely Penn State will be penalized. One question I have is whether Penn State will still be able to start their hockey program. Would the NCAA prevent them from starting another sport with an athletic department having such problems? With the "unprecedented" sanctions, can Penn State still afford to start a hockey program? The implications of that go beyond Penn State. Without Penn State, the Big Ten only has five hockey programs - not enough for an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. Would this send the Big Ten teams scurrying back to the WCHA and reopen the entire college hockey realignment debate?
AJ the former Huskerh8er is back with an SEC blog. Today, he took on the Penn State situation and calls for the death penalty for Penn State. Fine. But he really gives Gary Pinkel a pass for his oblivious statements defending Joe Paterno last week. Remember when AJ was in his prime and it was Tom Osborne, Bill Callahan, or Bo Pelini jamming his foot all the way into his colon via his pie-hole? You think he'd say something like "apologize and move on"?
Yeah...right. Maybe it's just rust, rather than pulling his punches when it's his own coach that opened up the 55 gallon barrel of worms. Where's the outrage? Where's the venom? Where's the hate?