Articles posted in September 2008

CFL Scheduling: Part 1 - Bye Weeks

Published on September 30, 2008

Creating a schedule every year in the CFL can be a challenge. With eight or nine teams, it can be difficult to keep the schedule interesting and fresh every year while maintaining the traditions demanded by the fans. Add on to these challenges the scheduling needs of the television networks, stadium availability and keeping the schedule fresh for fans year-after-year. The CFL schedule maker has done an effective job in the past few years in introducing new wrinkles to provide balance and a mid-season break for teams. Still, there are a number of areas to consider in order to better position the CFL schedule now and for future expansion, the first being bye weeks.

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Television Blackouts: De-marketing Oblivion?

Published on September 27, 2008

An interesting article came out this week from Crash Cameron of the Edmonton Sun, specifically the section on television blackouts and marketing.

  • Once upon a time, moving the entire CFL broadcast schedule to a cable network such as TSN would have caused a similar uproar. In particular, it would have been bad news for rural fans, of which there are still plenty for a little ol’ league like the CFL that can’t afford to ignore its grassroots.

(Think Saskatchewan and the Roughriders.) Of course, almost anywhere can get cable or satellite now, but the league still has to deal with the sticky situation of blackouts. Yes, putting butts in the seats is a bottom line for an enterprise that can quickly face bottoms-up, but isn’t reaching living rooms just as important in the long run? Wasn’t this a lesson learned in the dark ages of the 1980s when the league de-marketed itself into near oblivion? A generation of potential die-hards were easily drawn in by the football monster to the south, only to become NFL fans, instead. (And become Pro-Line die-hards. But that’s another story.)

So you’ve got the Hall of Fame Game with a notable lineup of inductees — not to mention a posthumous tribute to a genuine CFL legend, who not long ago coached a Tiger-Cats team to a Grey Cup win, then settled in the area — and it’s blacked-out in the Hamilton area?

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Ralph Sazio: 1922-2008

Published on September 26, 2008

Another Ti-Cat great was lost this week with the passing of Ralph Sazio Thursday night. Sazio was a player, coach and manager for the Ti-Cats before moving on to serve as President and general manager of the Toronto Argonauts in the 1980’s. A Canadian Football Hall of Fame member, Sazio was a staple in CFL circles for four decades who was known for a gruff and tough exterior, but a kind and caring person. Commissioner Mark Cohon may have said it best, “He was a tireless worker in a blue collar town. He exuded strength in a city built on steel. And he never backed down.”

Sazio will be missed as the CFL suffers another loss of a great from its past. Our thoughts are with the Sazio family as they deal with the sudden loss of their husband, father and grandfather.

Quarterback Development Doldrums

Published on September 25, 2008

David Naylor of has an interesting post on the lack of quarterback development by the Toronto Argonauts and Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He seems to conclude this statistical anomaly is due to the ownership of these teams (and therefore the management) having no patience to develop QB‘s and so are always looking for quick fix solutions like Casey Printers for Hamilton last year and Kerry Joseph in Toronto this year.

Certainly the pressure of the southern Ontario market is part of the reason ownership group after ownership group will feel it is important to win right now and direct their management to make it happen. A general manager and coach will not be willing to develop a quarterback over a few years as it is hard to know if your young talent will even be able to be moulded into a CFL quarterback. Taking a gamble on what a quarterback will evolve into in a year or two when your job is on the line is not something most will be willing to try.

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Stadium Politics

Published on September 21, 2008

On the heels of the rejection of a stadium expansion plan for Laval University in Quebec City and Winnipeg’s stadium replacement plan in its third location and funding proposal, Eugene Melnyk has announced a 30,000 seat stadium proposal to be used for an MLS expansion team in Ottawa. The public funding requirements put forward with new stadiums plans in Canada make them a hot political issue, from local to federal politics.

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CFL’s Little General, Lancaster, Lost to Cancer

Published on September 18, 2008

Shock and sorrow swept over me this morning when I read CFL Legend Ron Lancaster had lost his battle with cancer and passed away last night. Lancaster impacted many in his travels through the CFL, from fans of his playing days in Ottawa and Saskatchewan, his two coaching Grey Cup titles in Edmonton and Hamilton to his reach Canada wide as a CFL television colour commentator in the 1980’s. Lancaster’s career spanned 48 years associated with the CFL and as well known as he was across the country, he was a legend in Regina. Bringing the ‘Riders their first Grey Cup and providing the fans a competitive team for 15 years made him the legend, but his work as a high school teacher and in the community connected him to people in much deeper and long-lasting ways.

I remember Lancaster mostly as a colour commentator on CBC‘s CFL broadcasts. His knowledge of the game and deft speaking skills made him the best of his time. Myself and many other selfishly wished he would return to broadcasting one day.

With all the news on his passing (more, more), from the statement from the CFL to a review of his career the most compelling stories are those from players and fans remembering the small things about Lancaster and filling up comments with condolences. Sadly, Lancaster becomes the third Canadian Football Hall of Fame member to be lost this year following Earl Lunsford and Bob Ackles.

I, like many CFL fans and people across Canada, will be mourning Ron Lancaster over the next few weeks. I hope these simple acts of recognition and remembrance can help the Lancaster family get through this difficult time.

CFL Chaos Theory

Published on September 14, 2008

The Butterfly effect, a phrase that encapsulates a notion of chaos theory which states that small variations in the initial conditions can dramatically affect the result in dynamic systems, is being observed in the CFL this season.  One off-season move has set in motion a number of events in the past few weeks and the whole look of the CFL season this year.

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Ottawa Refuses to Fund Quebec City Stadium

Published on September 3, 2008

Ottawa has refused changes to a Laval University sports complex proposal that would have allowed $37.5 million in federal funds of an $85 million project to be directed toward expanding the university’s football stadium. Federal Transport Minister Lawrence Cannon (apparently the Transport portfolio is responsible for sports, recreation and education funding) refused to accept a proposal to expand the stadium to meet CFL requirements in order to allow local investors to bid on a CFL franchise because Ottawa “was not in the business of subsidizing professional sports”.

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