Back in those days, the teams were all relatively evenly matched. Sure, some people would argue that this team was better than that team, but that opinion was usually identical to the opinion-holder's hometown, and therefore not terribly meaningful. No one ever really knew who would make the Playoffs or who would win the Finals. In fact, most people, even The Great Ruler, seemed to have no idea!
But then the Big Cities got together and hatched a plan. They said, "hey, let's make this one, tiny, tiny change in the rules" (we'll call it Change A). The big cities said they were making the suggestion because it was objectively a good idea, but the its sole effect would be to give an advantage to densely populated areas. Most teams were from large cities so they liked the idea. The medium-sized cities didn't think it was their business to object. People demanded the right to vote.
The Great Ruler reluctantly polled the Team Managers and, in the end, Change A was effected.
The next season, Carolina, Tennessee, and Arizona were huddled together at the bottom of the rankings. Within two years, all three teams had voluntarily* withdrawn from the USCL.
Next year, the same three teams, New York, Boston, and San Fransisco, suggested one more rule change (change B). The sole effect of this change would be to benefit teams with more high rated players. Of course, the teams making the suggestion said they were doing it for the sake of the fans, and the fans, overjoyed to have been even mentioned, screamed their approval. Democracy prevailed.
By the next season, any team that couldn't consistantly field a 2 GM lineup suffered a severe handicap. Philadelphia, Chicago, and even Queens dropped like weighted kittens to the bottom of the pool.
The two exceptions to this phenomenon were Dallas and Miami, whose combination of improving young players and team chemistry allowed them to remain a thorn in the side of the Big Three.
The following year, someone stood up patriotically and said, "Hey, this is the UNITED STATES Chess League! What are all these GODDAMN FOREIGNERS doing on our top boards, taking pieces out of American mouths? This tournament should be for Americans! There ought to be a rule**" New York, Boston, and San Fransisco rubbed their hands and laughed as the INS came for Miami and Dallas.
After several more years, the USCL map had been redrawn to include just three MEGA-teams: what used to be known as New York, Boston, and San Fransisco. By 2015, they had renamed themselves Eurasia, Eastasia and Oceania. Two of them are perpetually at war with the third.