September 2017 League of the Month - USFC!

 
September 2017 League of the Month - USFC!
Happy Madden season everyone! With a new Madden season upon us and the summer finally over, it's time to start recognizing some great leagues out there! Full disclosure, League of the Month really should be monthly but I've found it both difficult to keep up with during the summer for two reasons. I try to spend that time implementing new features for the site in preparation for Madden's release since it's the businest the site gets. I also want to make sure that I'm recognizing great leagues in the time that highlights them the best and mid summer isn't the most advantageous time to highlight a Madden league since it's off-season. That said, I'm always looking for other leagues to highlight from other games as well as we did with BGA last March. So be on the lookout for some FIFA, MLB, 2K, Live and other leagues in the future when it makes sense. Ok, enough of that - let's get to why we're here - to announce September 2017's League of the Month, USFC!!
 
If you haven't heard of them yet, trust me you will. Get on Twitter @USFCOnline and follow them becaus their league is always posting content and is very active. From my perspective it's always cool to see leagues doing more and more to be as immersive as possible and USFC has been working their tails off to get the full NFL experience into their users' hands. What's immpressive is, they have only been around since April 2017! But don't let USFC's relative youth fool you - like many leagues, their commissioner brings with him a ton of experience from other leagues he's worked with in the past.
 
As I was going through the list of leagues to decide who to feature this month, USFC stoof out to me for a number of reasons. The first was purely numbers based. If you haven't seen it yet (most likely not because I haven't promoted it yet) we've created a rankings section on the site for the Madden leagues listed. It uses activity on this site - number of views, votes, comments, etc and ranks the leagues. USFC is currently listed 5th on our site so, that helped a ton in making the decision.  Beyond that these guys are bursting with professionalism.  One look at their website and you know these guys are the real deal and are poised to take this thing on to the next level.  So, as I always do, I asked Chris, USFC's commissioner to give some details on his league and here is what he had to say!
 
 
About Section
How long has have you guys been around?  What made you decide to start your own league?
This is a huge honor for us to be featured and honestly more so because USFC simply hasn't been around long, we established ourselves in April of 2017. I had been a commissioner/creator of another league called Legends Premier League, it was and still is a fantastic league with great people running the show. What made me branch off was just a difference of opinion that was going no where fast. It wasn't really any fault of the guys there, but rather my inability to move forward on changes and issues. It was time for me to step back and reevaluate whether or not I wanted to continue with Madden and at the end of it all, I decided I did. I created USFC to try and right the ship simply for myself. I still have a great deal of respect for those guys and what they are doing. The amount I had learned in my time since creating that league with Rich was absolutely incredible. Creating a league that had a top set goal of building camaraderie and giving everyone an in depth sim experience became my #1 goal and that sparked the start of what is now USFC.
How many other leagues have you been a part of?  What is the one thing you've learned from those experiences?
I've been in a few long term leagues, while also lime lighting in second and third leagues for a a cycle. In terms of long term leagues, I'd have to say I've been part of 3. One thing I've learned from every league I've ever been part of though is that it is impossible to please everyone and trying to do so is not only going to run you into the ground as a commissioner but also more often than not hurt the league as a whole. While in my opinion, you always want to see everyone happy, you can't approve every little request put in front of you. In the long run, I think guys who are truly interested in finding a long term sim league usually agree with that and understand. The number one thing that forces leagues to shut down are arguments. Whether it's among members, or among the staff - and granting small unreasonable requests at every turn just to appease individuals just doesn't work out. In short, always do what's best for the league in large. 
What was the most difficult thing in getting the ball rolling with your league?  How long did it take to fill the league?  Approximately how many total owners have you been through since your league started through now?  
I'm sure this is probably an answer you get a lot, but the most difficult thing was absolutely finding guys who were searching for the same quality of sim style play that we were expecting. It took until the start of June to truly fill the league. We had a few teams that seemed to be revolving doors. I'd say we've had about 50 to 60 users filter in and out of the league since we started. The amount of individuals who show interest in joining, play try out games and then disappear after joining the CFM is actually quite astounding at this point. It's something I knew happened, just not at the rate that I've seen it recently. 
Tell me a funny story about something that happened in your league.
We had a guy join in the first few weeks of the league who simply couldn't play sim and to the rules we had posted. After removing him from the league, he tried to rejoin under a new name. The 'funny' part about this was that when he joined the CFM the second time, he was trying to join with the same gamertag on accident. He asked me for help and I kept telling him the only reason it wouldn't let you join is if you were booted - in which case you'd need an invite as opposed to joining via password. He then quickly revealed that he was booted because he thought I was able to see who was joining the league. It didn't stop there though. He then tried to tell me that the reason he really needed to be in the league was because his mother finally kicked him out of the house and he was living on his own for the first time and it was the only way he could fuel his "competitive" fire at 47 years old. It was kind of bizarre getting all that information out of one individual in the matter of just 2 or 3 days. Regardless, he seemed like a decent guy, but we definitely decided to move on in a hurry from him. 
What is your favorite part of running a league?  Least favorite part?
There are a lot of great things about running a league. Personally at the top of my list being a commissioner and running a league means helping build the community. To do that I think it's important guys have fun and get into the CFM experience you're trying to promote. I think it's awesome when you see guys get on the website or on their team twitters and start creating their own player/team story lines. For me, that's the ultimate sign that you're doing well, guys are having fun and feeling strongly about the experience you're trying to give them. 
 
My least favorite part... Definitely the grind. I think any commissioner will agree when I state that being a commissioner is a grind. Just making sure everything runs smoothly. Sending out messages to owners before packing it in for the night, then once again right when you get up in the morning before work. It's always a grind. No matter the amount of help you have, you feel it. Having your phone on you while you're out with the family or at a sports practice for your kids, being a commissioner is a 24/7 job if you want your league to operate smoothly and be successful in the long term. There are no days off, no matter what you have come to believe. 
What tools do you use to recruit for your league?  Have any been more helpful than others?  
I used to use facebook and operationsports.com quite a bit, but there were a lot of varying results, and more often than not the users we were able to haul in just never lasted. Right now I think we are getting most of our users from both leaguecrawler and twitter. Not trying to sugar you up any, but leaguecrawler truly has been one of the more helpful tools in the entire bunch. The wide array and the reach that both the site and the leaguecrawler twitter has is awesome for recruiting. More often than not you're getting guys that stick in the league for a while if not permanently and you also get guys who are looking for the same experience that you want to promote. I can't count how many times we've tagged @leaguecrawler on twitter and someone has replied to the post or messaged us after it being shared. It's been great, really.
How many people are on your team?  What are their roles?  Have you always been the commish?
We have a total of 7 that help run the league currently. 3 Commissioners and 4 Staff members.
 
Myself, Schneider and Skinscrew are the current commish team and I try to make sure everyone understands that even though I created USFC, these guys have just as much to do with operations as I do. They do a great job at helping out and making sure things run smoothly. I've had two other co-commissioners for a short time prior to them, and it simply just didn't work out - our views of what was and wasn't sim just turned to be too different. At the end of the day, I believe that having a trio of commissioners tends to work out the best. Not only do you keep each other in check, but you also have people to bounce ideas and thoughts off of. 
 
We also have a few "staff" members who each have their own tasks. Running a league can't be a one man show. If someone can do it, I'd love to have a sit down with them and get them on this team. The staff members tasks range from one person heading a trade committee, keeping an eye on roster regulations/rules, and even watching games to make sure rules are followed. 
What is the thing your league does best?  
We've got a lot of great things going on at USFC. I'd say we do a great job at giving people consistent content to see both on our website and on our twitter accounts. We constantly have things like power rankings, player position rankings, MVP watches, team news related articles and so much more on our website (usfconline.net). I feel that's something that league members and individuals from the outside looking in can enjoy. It also goes a long way in terms of getting our name out there for recruiting. When guys see the quality of our content that is put out, I feel they can't help but be intrigued and become interested in the league. We may not pump out the articles 2 to 3 times a day like I see a few other leagues doing, but I think the quality of content that we put out is right up there, and that's something we can be proud of seeing. It's all about getting guys immersed in the action around the league. 
 
 
What are one or two things that your league is doing that people may not know about?
I think a lot of people don't realize that we are starting to get more in tune with the podcast/pregame show area. It's something that I know a few different guys among the league are really interested in doing. We had one podcast that was recorded but never really uploaded and I was able to listen to the raw recording, it was really well done. Definitely keep an eye out for that.
What's next for you guys?
I think what's next is just getting more guys to buy in to the content creation. We've got a solid core of guys interested in creating content, and at the end of the day we're going to continue to help guys not only get better at playing SIM but also at creating content. Whether it's giving them ideas, or them giving us small spinets of stories about their teams that we can build on for them. We want people on the outside looking in to have a reason to pay attention to our league. 
 
We're also on the verge of getting live broadcasted games going. I watch a lot of what MBL does and have so much respect for those guys, seeing what they do with their games and the great job they do commentating on their live games, it's just awesome. I think that's a next step that we're going to take really soon. We've been plotting, and practicing for it. Start with the superbowl, then make perhaps a weekly event out of it. 
Mini Madden 18 review time!
 
- What do you like about the game so far?
It's tough for me to point out one specific thing that I like. I will say that I really enjoy that they have gone a bit more in depth with the CFM commentating, hearing about specific games that have been played within your CFM. That's going to bring a cool aspect to the audio. In terms of gameplay, without a doubt this is hands down the best Madden in the books when it comes to the offensive line. The offensive line has always been ignored. Seeing a REAL pocket created that you need to step up in has been the most refreshing thing I've seen out of Madden in some time. 
- What have you found disappointing?
Without a doubt it has to be the zone defense. I think that this is something they should have made sure was right from the start. I can deal with the safeties missing assignments here and there - it's always been like that. The real issue is the flats in my opinion. Simply put, it's too easy to get those 4-5 yard completions every down because your underneath guy in the flats is always open with a 7-10 yard cushion between he and the defender. Seeing a quarterback run out of the pocket only for your zone defender to stand and watch him run by has been even more disappointing. I feel that they definitely botched that one. If it weren't for the zone issues, I'd have nearly no complaints and those I would have would be mostly cosmetics and depth of game modes. Hopefully the patch addresses this. 
- What one realistic change do you think EA could make to make CFM better?
Commissioner tools. Allow us to edit anything and everything. We want to suspend a player? Allow us. We want to play competitive with injuries on? Sure. As a commissioner of a league, you should be able to change and edit anything and everything. At the same time, implement a tracker that allows everyone to see what the commissioner is up to much like the transactions log. 
The NFL season is kicking off, who is your team and what are their chances of winning the Super Bowl?
I've been a Falcons fan for as long as I can remember watching football, and I know well enough not to predict or expect excellence from the team, that's always when they let us down. I'm definitely optimistic though. I'm not sure there's another team in the league with the amount of young talent they have on offense and more importantly defense. They're extremely fast and Dan Quinn is doing a heck of a job getting that team built the way you'd expect to see a consistent winning team built. I definitely think that they will be in the playoffs, but it's always a crapshoot getting to the Superbowl. It's so hard to get there, but to get there two years in a row? That's a huge undertaking in my opinion. I think they have a shot, but at the end of the day, whether we get to the Superbowl or go 2-14, I'm just enjoy watching them. (If that's not an Atlanta sports fan thing to say, I'm not sure what is...)
User Spotlight
Who are the top three members of your league?
We've got a ton of really great users in our league.  There are definitely guys though who separate themselves from the pack so to speak. We've got a pretty good amount of guys in the league who are balancing so much in their personal lives - be it wives, kids, schooling, full time jobs, among whatever else life throws at you - and yet still manage to play their games in a timely fashion and even produce content. I think that the guys who separate themselves definitely speak for themselves, you see it on twitter and on our website. 
 
Jtcain, Lpalmer and Skinscrew would be my picks currently if I had to pull three from the group. Jtcain and Lpalmer have both shown their willingness to create team related and league related content for the website and really put a storyline on games that get played. With Skinscrew, I think he's specifically been put in his commissioner position because of the quality of his contributions. He's someone who will give you an article every time he plays a game. I think that even when you take his commissioner responsibilities out of the equation, he would be one of the most valuable assets we have in terms of users. He's really the definition of what we want to see from a fully immersed sim user in the league. 
Any final comments? 
I just want to thank you for everything you do at Leaguecrawler. I'm not sure I've seen another site accomplish what your doing and I think it's great. For myself personally as someone who wants to not just have a league and "become the best" or whatever other mantra many have but rather build and support the CFM community as a whole, I think that the information guys get from LC and the ease of finding leagues is awesome. The fact that nearly every league around currently strives to do well enough to earn the LOTM button from your site is something that should tell you that this site is working exactly the way it was intended to. 
 
I also want to give a shoutout to other leagues like MBL, XCFL, DaDynasty, and I'm sure there are ton more, that have laid the groundwork for us at USFC. A lot of ideas, concepts and really anything you can think of were things that were picked up on through seeing the success those leagues have, and also even sharing information. Last month I asked Bomber about live broadcasts, and it was a pretty awesome conversation because there are a ton of leagues that sort of keep things to themselves but he reached back out and told me basically everything I need to know how to get it started. That's the kind of community we need to strive to create and keep growing. 
 
I also just want to tell everyone who reads this that USFC is far from done trying to improve on what we do. We're just beginning, literally. We're going to continue to get better at things and strive to give guys the best experience they could possibly ask for. Anyone interested in joining the league can go to our website and sign up, or simply message us on twitter, we're always looking for new users to keep in mind even when the league is filled.
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