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May 11 - At "21" in New York City, the USFL announces its intent to play spring football commencing in 1983.

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March - William Tatham and son William Jr. apply for a USFL expansion franchise for the city of San Diego.
May 16 - The Tathams application is approved, and San Diego is announced as the home of the USFL's 15th franchise.  
Summer - The Tathams are unable to secure use of San Diego's Jack Murphy Stadium and are forced to abandon San Diego as the team's home.  Eventually the Tathams select Tulsa, Oklahoma as the home of the team.
August 8 - The Outlaws sign free agent quarterback Doug Williams, who had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the NFC title game in 1979 but hadn't been re-signed when his contract expired after the 1982 season.  The Outlaws signing of Williams provoked a minor controversy within the league however, as his rights were owned by the Boston Breakers.  This was settled two months later with the Outlaws sending a future draft pick the Breakers' way.  

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January 4 - The Outlaws name former Pittsburgh Steelers assistant Robert "Woody" Widenhofer as their first head coach.
January 4 - With the second overall pick in the 1984 USFL Draft, the Outlaws select DE Ron Faurot of Arkansas.
February 26 - The Oklahoma Outlaws bring pro football to Tulsa for the first time, beating their expansion brethren Pittsburgh Maulers, 7-3.

To see more of the
Outlaws timeline, visit the
Timeline of the USFL

Years Played in USFL: 1984, 1985
Club Owner(s): William Tatham, William Tatham Jr.
Playing Site: Skelly Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma (1984); Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona (1985)
Head Coach(es): Woody Widenhofer (1984); Frank Kush (1985)
Overall Record: 14-22-0
. .

Year Head Coach W L T Pct. Finish Post-Season Notes
1984 Woody Widenhofer 6 12 0 .333 4th, Central Div. Failed to Qualify
1985 Frank Kush 8 10 0 .444 4th, Western Conf. Failed to Qualify
Team Totals 14 22 0 .389 --- -

The Oklahoma Outlaws were never to have existed.  Not in Oklahoma, anyway.  In 1982 during the USFL's formative phases, Alan Harmon and Bill Daniels intended to place a franchise in San Diego.  Prevented by that city from using Jack Murphy Stadium for home games, Harmon and Daniels moved their franchise to Los Angeles, where it became the Los Angeles Express. 
Fast forward a year, and an expansion applicant, in the form of Fresno, California-based banker and real estate investor William Tatham and his son, William Jr., applied to place a team in San Diego.  The USFL, assured by the Tathams that the problems that befell Harmon and Daniels wouldn't occur again and wanting to get into that city, approved the application.  The Tathams proceeded to hit the same brick wall as Harmon and Daniels had - the USFL would never come to San Diego.

After considering a number of sites including Honolulu of all places, the Tathams settled on placing their franchise in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Tulsa wasn't even among the cites mentioned in a Communications Research report commissioned by the USFL as cities under consideration for expansion teams.  It wasn't even considered as a potential site.  But Tatham had roots there, the franchise was his, and he wasn't in violation of any part of the USFL Constitution by placing it there, and so the Oklahoma Outlaws were born with son William Jr. minding the store as the team's General Manager.

Tulsa initally embraced the idea of having pro football in their city, a sign that the town was "major league."  But Skelly Stadium, home of the University of Tulsa and now the Outlaws, was inadequate to the needs of the team.  William Tatham Jr. made it known before the team had played a game, and fans weren't exactly endeared by it.  Bad spring weather also played a role in the attendance picture.  While the team's 15,937 paid attendance for the home opener, a 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Maulers, wasn't a good sign, the team nonetheless drew fairly well when the weather was temperate and dry.

The team on the field wasn't disappointing to Oklahoma football fans, who didn't expect much from an expansion team.  But just two weeks into the season, William Tatham Jr. announced that the Outlaws would be in search of a new home for 1985.  The initial plan was to move the team to Norman, Oklahoma, home of the University of Oklahoma.  When that plan didn't materialize, young Tatham talked with Honolulu, San Diego, and a variety of other cities, but there were no takers.  Tatham wasn't very popular among USFL owners, and he wasn't proving very adept at convincing cities that he and his father's USFL team would be a good fit in their city.

After a 1984 season that saw the team finish 6-12-0, the Outlaws had almost reached a deal to merge with the Oakland Invaders, but Invaders owner Tad Taube backed out of the deal, citing his inability to deal with young Tatham's demands.  At that point Dr. Ted Diethrich, who in 1983 had owned the Chicago Blitz only to trade franchises with the Arizona Wranglers, approached the Tathams - would they be interested in coming to Phoenix?

The Tathams and Diethrich came to a deal, and through an acquisition (most refer to it as a merger but, in fact, the Outlaws bought the Wranglers) moved to Phoenix for 1985.  But football fans in Phoenix, having seen not one but two versions of the Arizona Wranglers leave them, had even less interest in the Outlaws than the people of Tulsa had the year before.  Despite moving into Sun Devil Stadium, which had twice the capacity of Tulsa's Skelly Stadium, attendance actually dropped, to just over 17,000 per game.  The team on the field hadn't improved much from their 6-12-0 inaugural season either, finishing a disappointing 8-10-0 and out of the playoff hunt.

Despite the losses both on the field and from the wallet, the Tathams decided to stick things out, hoping that the NFL would ultimately absorb the USFL, in which case they - as owners of a franchise in a market that might be attractive to the league - would make out like, well, Outlaws.  The team was slated as one of the eight planning to participate in the USFL's fall 1986 season when the verdict of USFL v. NFL was announced.  The USFL had been dealt a death blow, and the Outlaws had been caught.

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