After a successful first weekend of the XFL, there is premature speculation on what cities the league might expand to next. Personally, I think it’s way too soon to assume that the XFL will add more cities yet. This version of the league has been operating in a slow and methodical method so I don’t see expansion in the near future. But, if they had a successful season and started looking at other cities, would Nashville be in the running?
The XFL is not afraid of putting teams in cities with National Football League (NFL) franchises. They already put teams in New York, Dallas, Houston, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Seattle and Washington D.C. so there is no reason they couldn’t consider Nashville.
Unfortunately, I think there are other cities more suited for the XFL than Nashville. I think San Diego and San Antonio would be at the top of the XFL’s expansion list. The XFL would be remiss if they passed up on San Diego which was abandoned by the Chargers. Along with San Antonio, I also think Columbus (OH), Louisville (KY) and Orlando (FL) could be ahead of any possibility of a Nashville XFL thought.
Nashville would have some things on the con list to consider. First, they would not have a dedicated stadium since Nashville’s Major League Soccer (MLS) would also share Nissan Stadium until their stadium is built (if ever). The next big issue is the weather. The weather is so unpredictable in Middle Tennessee in February and March. It can be in the 70s one day and snow the next few days as well as rainy/stormy times that are frequent during this time of the year.
COULD Nashville support an XFL team? Yes, they absolutely could. This area could support it but there are other cities that would be a better fit for the league.
It’s simply too early to speculate on the future of the XFL after just one week. Past leagues have failed so the emphasis should be for stability and filling a niche during football’s off-season.
Let’s just see how it goes in 2020 and see if the XFL even makes it through the season.
After dethroning the mighty Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in the American Football Conference (AFC) Wildcard game, the Tennessee Titans took out the league’s best regular season football team when they shocked the Baltimore Ravens 28-12 in the Divisional Playoffs over the weekend.
The AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Titans are one win away from the Super Bowl.
I don’t think many people would have believed this would happen after week six after the Titans were shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4 on the season. The Titans have gone 9-3 since then including a 35-32 win over the Chiefs in week 10.
Every year there is usually one team that peaks at the right time and at the moment, that team is the Titans. Almost every football “expert” picked the Ravens to takeout the Titans. Much was said and written about how they would be unable to contain Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson. Now that we are Monday Morning quarterbacking, we can see now that they did a pretty good job with that.
So can the Titans beat the Chiefs in Kansas City on Sunday or will their Cinderella season turn into a pumpkin at Arrowhead Stadium?
After that Titans finished off the Ravens, I thought that the Titans would do better playing the Chiefs than they would the Texans. The Titans have exceeded all expectations while the Chiefs are anxious not to let another chance to advance to their first Super Bowl since 1969 to slip away from them. I think that the pressure is on the Chiefs not to choke. Last year they lost to the Patriots at home in overtime in the AFC Championship. In 2017 they were upset by the Titans 22-21 in the wildcard game. They were beaten by the Pittsburgh Steelers 18-16 at home in the 2016 playoffs.
Another interesting stat….the Titans have beaten the Chiefs in their last four meetings. Three of the four Titan wins were in Kansas City.
The Titans weren’t supposed to be here. Kansas City expected to be here.
For the Titans to win yet another unthinkable game, they will need quarterback Ryan Tanneyhill to get it done. You can expect that the Chiefs will have a scheme to stop Titans’ running back Derrick Henry who has demolished opponents in the playoffs and force Tanneyhill to beat them.
So how will these Titans be remembered? Will they be the team that got on a roll only to fall in a disappointing loss to Kansas City or will they continue their unbelievable run and represent the AFC in the SuperBowl?
Not that it has anything to do with this year’s team but in their history, the Titans have played in four AFC Championship games in 1978, 1979 (at the Houston Oilers) and 1999, 2002. They are 1-3 in AFC title games winning in 1999 in their first season in Nashville.
I am hopeful that the Titans will upset the Chiefs to advance to the Super Bowl in Miami but – putting my emotional feelings aside – I fear that the Titans will be remembered in losing to the Chiefs this Sunday.
Okay, I have GOT to say this….what the “devil” were the Predators thinking in hiring John Hynes to replace Peter Laviolette as their coach? I don’t understand the thinking that goes into replacing Laviolette with a coach was was fired in December from the New Jersey Devils who was in last place. I was expecting something more. I thought they would go with one of the remaining assistant coaches or even ask Mike Fisher to come in to coach the team. If Hynes was the only option, I think I would have stayed with Laviolette. Not a good move. I would be surprised if the Predators even make the playoffs this season.
TITANS ARE ON A ROLL
The Titans did the unthinkable last week, they took down the mighty New England Patriots in the wildcard round last week. Derrick Henry is a beast and punished the Patriots with a huge game on the ground. Now the Titans move on to face Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens this Saturday in the divisional round. It doesn’t get any easier as they play the top team in the National Football League (NFL). The Titans haven’t done so well with mobile quarterbacks and Baltimore’s Jackson is about as mobile as it gets. Certainly the Titans could win but they are going to have to play another great game. I think it’s going to come down to how they are able to defend against Jackson.
NFL COACHING CHANGES
The Dallas Cowboys have hired former Green Bay Packers’ head coach Mike McCarthy to replace Jason Garrett. I think that’s a good match….I don’t think the same about the Carolina Panthers hiring Matt Rhule from Baylor. His overall coaching record in college is 47-43. His only previous NFL experience was in 2012 as the assistant offensive line coach for the New York Giants….I’m not sure who is going to go the Cleveland Browns. I keep reading that Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh Daniels is in the running but, personally, I wouldn’t bother with pursuing him. Others still on the Browns’ list are Kevin Stefanski and Jim Schwartz. Not looking good for the Browns.
MLS SET TO KICKOFF IN NASHVILLE
Believe it or not, the season opener for Major League Soccer (MLS) in Nashville is February 29th when Nashville SC hosts Atlanta United. (Yes, I’m still trying to get used to these soccer team names). It’s going to be a challenging start to the Nashville expansion team. Nashville is set to play Atlanta (2018 champion), Portland (2015) and Toronto (2017) in its first three matches before hosting Columbus Crew SC at Nissan Stadium. The fifth match is a nationally-televised game against Seattle Sounders FC, which won the 2016 and 2019 titles. Nashville SC has a 34-game schedule and will play in the Western Conference in 2020, with two matches against each of those 12 other teams. The club is scheduled to play eight of its 10 games against Eastern Conference opponents by May 30.Nashville SC will have no home matches between May 13 and July 5, playing seven road games during that time. But there are five consecutive home matches between July 18 and Aug. 5.
XFL SET TO RETURN IN FEBRUARY
Training camp is underway for the eight XFL teams. The season will kickoff on February 8th with the Seattle Dragons taking on the DC Defenders and the Los Angeles Wildcats play the Houston Roughnecks.
The XFL has announced some interesting rule changes.
During punts, players can’t leave the line of scrimmage until after the punter kicks the ball away, so there will won’t be any blocks.
Punts that go into the end zone or out of play will be spotted at the 35-yard line or wherever the ball lands out of bounds. The concept of fair catches and pinning the opposition down deep are being eliminated with this type of rule.
On point-after attempts following a touchdown a team will have three options: a one-point play from the 2-yard line, a two-point play from the 3-yard line, or a three-point play from the 10-yard line.
Like college football, players will only be required to have one foot in bounds to establish possession on catches. The XFL believes that will make the game easier to officiate and won’t lead to long reviews.
Finally, a shootout-style overtime period will be put in place where each team will get five single-play possessions from the 5-yard line. If the game remains tied, teams will rotate possessions until someone comes away victorious.
HAVEN’T THEY PLAYED THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP YET?
This morning I wondered if the game had been played already. Unless you are a Tiger fan (LSU or Clemson) then it isn’t exactly on your radar. Apparently it wasn’t on mine. The answer is that the title game will be played Monday in New Orleans. The 16-day gap from the semifinals was a result of scheduling the Superdome for the game. Planning for the matchup next week has been underway for years, but not as currently arranged. The playoff organizers selected New Orleans for this season’s championship game in November 2015. Before New Orleans was chosen, Superdome officials and the local host committee said the stadium was available for Jan. 6 or Jan. 13. Playoff officials selected the later date, expecting that this season’s semifinals would be played on Dec. 31. They hoped to avoid a gap of less than a week between rounds. Personally, I don’t really care. Just play the damn game already.
Most people won’t hear about it on the local news but the more obscure sports in the Music City has lost one franchise but gained another recently.
The Nashville Nightwatch professional ultimate frisbee team announced this week that they will no longer field a team in the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL). The Nightwatch played four seasons in the AUDL’s Southern Division but never had a winning season. They showed a lot of promise at times but could only post an 8-44 record and finished last place each season. In their Facebook announcement this week the team posted:
“We would like to thank our players and supporters from the last 4 years. Going forward we will not be playing in the AUDL. We are going to turn our efforts into building our community through club efforts and focusing on our Professional Women’s team, Nashville NightShade. We will be forming a club team with the goal of competing at the highest level. Our experiences learned in the AUDL will allow us to give our club team a pro experience and grow with our community. More information to come, and thank you for your support.”
The Nightwatch organization has been one of the more influential franchises in promoting women’s ultimate so it appears that the Nightwatch could live on through their female counterparts. I’m not sure how the club team will work out and competing at the “highest level” will look like but with the AUDL being the only professional ultimate league, this announcement will leave a void.
The Nightwatch could never get the following necessary to sustain a start-up professional franchise, especially in a non-major sport. The press never really helped the Nightwatch plus the fact that they could not field a competitive team on the field. The team also could never find a good home as they began at Tennessee State University in their inaugural season then moved to Overton High School in their second season and then a terrible move to Hunter’s Lane High School in North Nashville the following season and finally to an awkward field at Vanderbilt University. The move to the Vanderbilt area was one I thought would help but the home field was not really a spectator-friendly venue.
With the demise of the Nightwatch, another team has moved into the void as the Nashville Power brings the city their first indoor football team since the Nashville Venom played in 2014-2015 at the Municipal City Auditorium. The Power will also call the Auditorium home when they kick off their season in the spring of 2019. The Power will play in the Elite Indoor Football League which is basically a semi-pro type league in comparison to the bigger leagues. The Power will join 12 other teams located throughout the East and Southeast.
Although they are playing in an obscure league, they will have a local favorite involved. One of the greatest arena league players of all-time, Cory Fleming, is the Power’s defensive coordinator. Fleming played for the Kats (1997-2001, 2006), Carolina (2002) and Orlando (2003-05). The former Stratford and Tennessee star was inducted into the Arena Football Hall of Fame in 2013.
Will this new indoor team make it? I doubt it. The league looks pretty weak. There had been rumors of the return of the Nashville Kats franchise in the National Arena League (NAL) or even a new team in the Arena Football League (AFL) but nothing has been made public.
Don’t be surprised if the Power doesn’t last any longer than the Nightwatch.
It remains to be seen what will happen with Nashville’s bid for an expansion team in Major League Soccer (MLS). Nashville Mayor Megan Barry joined the group in New York City in their meeting with MLS to pitch Nashville to them.
While we wait for the fate of Nashville’s attempt to bring professional soccer to the Music City, I was wondering about other leagues that might consider adding Nashville.
Major League Baseball (MLB) – Probably not much of a chance of Major League Baseball relocating or expanding to Nashville. We have the Atlanta Braves to the south of us and the Cincinnati Reds to the north. Expansion to 32 teams is coming but Nashville is behind other hopefuls such as Mexico City, Montreal, Vancouver, Charlotte (NC), Portland (OR), Austin (TX), Las Vegas (NV) and Columbus (OH). Both Tampa Bay and Oakland are having battles with their stadiums so those teams could relocate as well. Nashville has First Tennessee Park but it would need a major expansion for a major league team.
National Basketball Association (NBA) – The NBA hasn’t said when they would expand or how many teams they would add but you can be assured that Seattle (WA) will be one of them. I’m not really sure that Nashville is an NBA city. Bridgestone Arena is a top-notch arena that could support an NBA team but arena dates would be difficult. Memphis has an NBA team but that’s Memphis. I don’t know anyone that drives to Memphis on a regular basis to watch the Grizzlies. The NBA’s short-list of cities includes Seattle (WA), Pittsburgh (PA), Omaha (NE), Las Vegas (NV), Vancouver, Louisville (KY), Mexico City, Kansas City (MO), St. Louis (MO) and a second team for Chicago. I could see the NBA going to Louisville before coming to Nashville. Kentucky is a hotbed for college basketball and seems like a good fit.
Arena Football League (AFL) – Even with the league down to only five teams this season, the league is still alive. Nashville had a team called the “Nashville Kats” through a ten-year span from 1997-2007. The team was pretty successful on the field and at the gate. They played in two ArenaBowls and had an average attendance of 9,000 per game. The league is going to expand, probably by three more teams in 2018 but the league has not made public the cities with interest that could join their current roster of Cleveland, Baltimore, Washington, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay. A new Nashville team would be a hit and a resurrection of the Kats would be good for the league. The only thing that is a little iffy is whether or not the Arena Football League will rebound from its current state of life support.
National Lacrosse League (NLL) – Indoor lacrosse is a lot like hockey but is played without ice or skates. The traditional outdoor game of lacrosse is scaled down to a hockey rink. The games are very physical and high scoring. The NLL currently has nine teams. The closest team to Nashville is the Georgia Swarm. Nashville would be a natural rivalry if the league placed a team here. I think Nashville fans would love the NLL but it would be competition with the Nashville Predators. If the lacrosse team couldn’t play in Bridgestone Arena, they could play at Municipal Auditorium. The league is targeting owners who already have NBA or NHL franchises so Nashville could be in the mix.
Major League Lacrosse (MLL) – Outdoor lacrosse has become increasingly popular over the years and the MLL’s most recent expansion added the Atlanta Blaze to make it a 9-team league. Most of the teams play in college stadiums so that’s a positive for Nashville. The league plays at 14-game schedule during the spring and summer months. The sport is on the rise in Nashville as youth leagues continue to spring up. If Major League Soccer doesn’t come to Nashville, the MLL might want to take a chance on bringing a team to Nashville.
Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) – Indoor soccer has never been a “major” sport but the professional league still exists in the form of the Major Arena Soccer League with 17 teams across North America. I’m not sure Nashville would support indoor soccer as much as they would an outdoor team. With little exposure, and likely none by the local market, a team would probably not be able to play in Bridgestone Arena but might play at the Municipal Auditorium.
Other Sports Leagues – I think it’s just a matter of time until another indoor football league claims territory in Nashville. The established Indoor Football League (IFL) snagged the Arizona Rattlers from the Arena Football League but have no teams east of Nebraska. The Arena Pro Football (APF) league evolved from other leagues including the Professional Indoor Football League (PIFL) which had a franchise in Nashville (2014-2015) before the league folded. Although the Nashville franchise won the league title in 2014, most Nashvillans didn’t have a clue……The NBA’s Developmental League might be a good option for Nashville. Perhaps working with the Memphis Grizzlies although the Grizzlies have already decided to own and operate an expansion franchise in the D-League and plan to locate the team in Southaven, Mississippi in the Landers Center which will be closer to Memphis…..As for the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), there is probably no chance since Nashville does not have an NBA team and the league is trying to remain stable with the teams they already have…..The American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) has a professional Frisbee league in operation as well and the Nashville Nightwatch will be playing in their third season this spring. The team needs some serious exposure because it’s a great sport to watch.