The USFL is going to be undergoing some minor changes in their second season as it comes to their officiating. Former NFL official and now USFL Head of Officiating Mike Pereira sat down for an interview earlier this week with Outkick 360 and discussed some of the changes that are coming for the league in 2023. Following the addition of another hub city and the lessons learned from their inaugural season, there have been several adjustments made to the USFL regulations.
Pereira spoke about how the additional city has forced the USFL to hire more referees for games.
“Of course, it changes now with four Hubs, so we’re going to be playing in four different locations. So I’ve had to add officials, which is fine. The group that we basically have is 80% of it is made up of officials that are on the NFL developmental list.”
The former NFL official also dove into what changes are to be expected following year one;
“We looked at the rules and we were pretty pleased with what it was last year. We were still a little bit concerned about game times… You’re going to have the possibility of one game playing into another. So we wanted to, if we could, guarantee that we played them in a three-hour window. So last year we wound the clock after incomplete passes in the first and third quarters, which sped up our game. We thought it was a good change, but still, we think it wasn’t quite enough. So we’re going to wind the clock in the second and fourth quarters also after incomplete passes up until the five-minute mark of the quarter. And we’ll see in the first couple of weeks where that makes our time frame fall.”
Shortening the game is a goal of many leagues in North American sports, and in the USFL it is no different.
They also discussed a change in kickoffs, with the goal of increasing the number of kicks returned by each team.
“We’re going to make one slight adjustment to the kickoff. 81% of our kickoffs were returned last year, kicking off, kicking off from the 25… We want to get it to 90%, so we’re going to kick off from the 20. We don’t let the kicking team recover the ball if it goes beyond 20 yards, the kicking team can’t get a head start. The defensive receiving team has to put a minimum of nine guys in what we call a setup zone. We didn’t have too many injuries last year. If we did, we wouldn’t have gone forward with this. But we think with these formational adjustments that were good in that area, so we’re excited.”
Finally, Pereira discussed how replay will be utilized by the USFL in 2023.
“I am the replay center. We will have the replay center in Los Angeles again. So I kind of look at it and think of it from the NFL perspective to this. In the NFL, I’m commenting on what others have decided. Now when it gets into the USFL, I’m making decisions and others will be commenting on what I’m doing, so I’ll take more flack, probably, but it was a lot of fun. And it’s the first spring league I’ve been involved with that has gone longer than one year. So I’m really excited about that.”
USFL teams across the league are releasing their schedules today, and fans are more excited than ever to see their favorite players grace the field once again. Here’s to another successful season of spring football for the league, and hopefully, these changes provide the positive results we are all anticipating this season.