Goodbye Michigan, Hello Oakland. The End of the USFL?Aug 27, 1984
At its annual meeting last week in Chicago, the United States Football League voted unanimously (on the second round) to switch from its current spring schedule to the fall to complete head to head with the National Football League beginning in 1986. The league would play its last spring schedule in 1985 and then resume play in the fall of 1986.
With the announced move to the fall for 1986, the Panthers had to find a new home to avoid being lame ducks in Detroit. A. Alfred Taubman chose to throw the Panthers' lot in with the Oakland Invaders, and the teams merged prior to the USFL's final season. That is after they settled a suit filed in Oakland by the Pontiac Silverdome and city of Detroit to keep the Panthers committed to their 20 year lease. The proposed merger almost did not happen because of this. Although the U.S.F.L.'s Michigan Panthers were more popular than the NFL's Detroit Lions, principal owner, A. Alfred Taubman, would have no thought of going head to head with his friend, William Clay Ford, Detroit Lions owner. After the merger, the entire Panthers coaching staff was terminated, as well as Oakland Head Coach, John Ralston. This allowed former NFL Coach, Charlie Summner to be hired for the 1985 Campaign. The Merged Oakland/Michigan Franchises did keep one key ingredient in Michigan's Success, Vincent Lombardi Jr. It had been publically stated however, by Mr. Taubman, that regardless if the 1985 merger with the Invaders did not come to fruition, the Panthers still would not have played in the Silverdome in 1985, but more than likely would have moved to another city. This all a result of the announced move to a fall schedule for the 1986 season, not due to lack of fan support.