2017 Schedule: NOMS

Published on February 11, 2017 5:00 PM by dbo.

Without warning, fanfare or gimmicks, the 2017 CFL schedule was released on Tuesday, February 7th. The earliest release in six years, I needed a double-take on the CFL.ca news feed to ensure it wasn’t a mistake and a post accidentally published early. The 2017 schedule sees one more new stadium (and the last for a while) christened, and continues the tradition of the CFL schedule maker(s) angering at least one faction.

Schedule Summary

  • The pre-season schedule begins Tuesday, June 6th and ends Friday, June 16th played over two weeks and consists of a double-header Thursday in Week A and double-header Thursday and Friday in Week B. Edmonton and Calgary get the short straws, drawing pre-season games 4 days and 5 days apart respectively.
  • All pre-season games are divisional matchups.
  • The regular season begins on Thursday, June 22 with Saskatchewan visiting Montreal. A Grey Cup rematch follows on Friday Night Football with Calgary at Ottawa, followed by Edmonton at BC on Saturday and Hamilton at Toronto on Sunday.
  • Saskatchewan opens new Mosaic Stadium in the pre-season June 10th versus Winnipeg and play their first meaningful game in Week 2 against the same Blue Bombers to inaugurate the stadium to the regular season.
  • Each team receives two bye weeks as has been the practice in a nine-team league. Week 5 is the exception, with all teams playing (Ottawa twice) and Ottawa receiving a bye week (Week 6) immediately following (see controversy below).
  • The schedule features one night game on Canada Day, which falls on a Saturday, 2 traditional Labour Day Monday games and 1 Thanksgiving Monday game. Labour Day weekend (Week 11), features Ottawa at Montreal on Thursday, August 31st along with the traditional matchups on Sunday and Monday, with Edmonton/Calgary playing the earlier slot again.
  • Besides these dates, nothing is specified for Hall of Fame Game, CFL Pink weeks (though they will occur in October) or other events (that I have seen at time of writing).
  • There are 20 double-headers (9 Friday, 10 Saturday, 1 holiday Monday) and 1 triple-header in Week 12 on Saturday Sept. 9th. The number of double-headers is down 3 from last year, while this is the second year in a row a triple-header had been added to the schedule.
  • The television schedule is not released as of yet, and while TSN will carry all regular season games, whether any pre-season games will be carried on TSN or TSN2 is uncertain. Expect the pre-season television schedule to be confirmed in May.

Reviews

Outside the usual rush to reprint news of the schedule release with canned highlights from the league, reactions and analysis starting appearing late on Tuesday. Reactions from the league were positive wth criticisms:

Controversy

The Ottawa RedBlacks schedule, with two games in Week 5, a bye in Week 6, and then their remaining two byes in Week 18 and 20, caused them to be hot under the collar. In weeks 4 and 5, Ottawa plays three games in 10 days, two on the road with one of those in the west. Resorting to journalism, Tim Baines looks at the data to find, indeed, the RedBlacks have it worse than other teams in 2017, but does nothing to back the intent implied in the headline he or his editor wrote.

Here is the schedule matrix to make the bye comparison easier. Not every team can have optimum byes after six and twelve games, and while some placement may be better than others, nothing indicates favourtism or prejudice.

Table A: CFL 2017 Schedule Matrix
Week BC CGY EDM HAM MTL OTT SSK TOR WPG
A @ CGY vs BC; @ EDM vs CGY @ OTT @ TOR vs HAM vs WPG vs MTL @ SSK
B vs SSK @ WPG vs TOR vs OTT @ MTL @ BC @ HAM vs EDM
1 vs EDM @ OTT @ BC @ TOR vs SSK vs CGY @ MTL vs HAM
2 @ TOR vs OTT vs MTL @ EDM @ CGY vs WPG vs BC @ SSK
3 @ MTL @ WPG @ SSK vs BC vs TOR vs HAM @ OTT vs CGY
4 @ HAM @ MTL vs OTT vs BC vs CGY @ EDM @ WPG vs TOR
5 vs WPG vs SSK @ HAM vs EDM @ OTT vs MTL; @ TOR @ CGY vs OTT @ BC
6 @ EDM vs HAM vs BC @ CGY @ WPG vs TOR @ SSK vs MTL
7 vs SSK @ TOR vs HAM @ EDM vs WPG @ BC vs CGY @ OTT
8 @ SSK @ OTT vs WPG vs TOR vs EDM vs BC @ MTL @ HAM
9 vs CGY @ BC @ WPG vs OTT @ TOR @ HAM vs MTL vs EDM
10 @ OTT vs TOR vs SSK vs WPG vs BC @ EDM @ CGY @ MTL
11 vs EDM @ CGY vs TOR vs OTT @ MTL vs WPG @ HAM @ SSK
12 vs MTL @ EDM vs CGY @ OTT @ BC vs HAM @ WPG vs SSK
13 @ CGY vs BC @ TOR vs SSK vs OTT @ MTL @ HAM vs EDM
14 vs HAM @ SSK @ BC @ TOR @ WPG vs CGY vs MTL vs OTT
15 vs MTL vs WPG vs TOR @ CGY vs SSK @ OTT @ HAM @ EDM
16 vs OTT @ MTL @ WPG vs EDM @ BC @ TOR vs SSK vs HAM
17 @ WPG @ HAM vs TOR vs CGY @ SSK vs OTT @ EDM vs BC
18 vs EDM vs SSK @ BC @ MTL vs HAM @ CGY vs WPG @ TOR
19 @ WPG @ EDM vs CGY @ OTT @ SSK vs HAM vs MTL vs BC
20 vs TOR vs WPG @ SSK vs MTL @ HAM vs EDM @ BC @ CGY

Some thoughts on the continued “the schedule will make it hard for us” comments from many teams every year.

  1. Professional teams do not seed the public with excuses in advance. These comments become self-fulfilling prophecies.
  2. Only evidence for 2017, our team, is ever presented; no comparison with previous years or teams is considered. Seeking data to only support your beliefs or position is confirmation bias. It does not help find a solution, but it allows one to present they were wronged while appearing to have facts on their side.
  3. Schedule making is complex. The idea that there is a simple fix by changing one date or bye week or opponent do not take into account the constraints of facility availability, television requirements and the cascading effect on the rest of the schedule. Also, there is not just one team with complaints about the schedule. Why should only one team’s complaint be addressed? Suddenly, one change is now exponential, and a whole new schedule is required.
  4. These issues have existed in past schedules, it just was different teams with the pain points in other years. Did any one say in prior years “That’s a tough schedule for Toronto or BC or Hamilton, we should avoid that in the future”? It is a simple extension of NIMBY-ism, call it Not On My Schedule or NOMS. It is fine when someone else has to deal with it, but when it comes to your turn, it is suddenly unfair and provides proof that the league office is working against you and all kinds of paranoia. Silence or ignorance when it happens to someone else, but expecting support when it happens to you is self-centred and myopic.
  5. Has anyone talked about a solution? Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions. Now is the time to discuss what the schedule must and must not have for next year, not after the teams get the first schedule draft for 2018. If they want to eliminate the fast turnaround between games, the first thing is to eliminate the 5-game week. This is required because of the 81-game schedule with a nine team league. The only option I see to a 5-game week without radical ideas is a single game week to start the schedule. This means a 21 week season, which would require some fiddling with training camps and pre-season possibly. Put it on the table, examine the consequences and value, and decide whether its value exceeds its ramifications and the current system.
  6. If there is no stomach for 21 weeks, other more radical alternatives can be investigated or keep thoughts about my turn with the schedule deficiency private. I will cover my thoughts on radical changes in a future article.

Schedule Analysis

In the regular season, the schedule features 10 home and home games back to back for clubs in five different series. Calgary and Saskatchewan lead with two, BC, Edmonton, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg with one, and Hamilton with none. Toronto and Hamilton meet each other in the last week of the pre-season and first week of the regular season to add one series and two games to this statistic.

BC has a three game eastern road swing in Weeks 2, 3 and 4. Hamilton doesn’t play at home until Week 4 thanks to two road games to start the season and a bye week. Toronto faces a three week absense from their home fans mid-season when they play two games on the road followed by a bye week in Weeks 10, 11, 12. The last three weeks of the season see only one cross-division game per week, which sets the stage for important divisional games down the stretch if things work out in the standings.

Thursday Night football gets 11 games across 11 nights through the first 11 weeks of the season, continuing this feature night prior to the Labour Day Weekend. Weekday games are reduced with Wednesday games dropping from three to one, and one other non-holiday game occuring on a Monday.

Table 1: CFL 2017 Regular Season Home Games by Team and Day of the Week
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun Stat*
BC 4 5
Calgary 1 3 4 1
Edmonton 5 4
Hamilton 1 4 3 1
Montreal 4 2 2 1
Ottawa 1 1 4 3
Saskatchewan 2 4 3
Toronto 1 1 1 5 1
Winnipeg 3 3 3
Total 1 1 11 28 31 6 3
2016 +/- -2 -2 +4 +4 -1 -3

* – Three games occur on Stat Holiday Mondays (Labour Day and Thanksgiving). Does not include Canada Day game on Saturday, July 1st, which is counted under Saturday.

Hamilton and Toronto lead the way with providing a standard start time for their games with three different times. At the other end of the spectrum, the Saskatchewan Roughriders have seven different start times. Game start times are very dependent on the broadcaster requirements and vary between pre-Labour Day (more night games) and post-Labour Day (more day games).

Table 2: CFL 2017 Regular Season Game Unique Start Times by Team
Unique Times Mode (Local) Freq Count
Hamilton 3 7:30 PM 4
Toronto 3 4:00 PM 5
BC 4 7:00 PM 5
Edmonton 4 7:30 PM 4
Calgary 4 7:00 PM 4
Montreal 4 7:30 PM 5
Ottawa 4 7:00 PM 4
Winnipeg 4 7:30 PM 5
Saskatchewan 7 2:00 PM, 8:00 PM 2


About 37% of games start in the Eastern time zone prime time range of 7:00 PM - 7:30 PM, while 60% of games start before 7:30 PM. This is a drop of 7% and 10% respectively from last season. It will be interesting to monitor television audiences and if any drop or increase can be attributed to this change.

Table 2: CFL 2017 Regular Season Unique Start Times (ET)
Time Freq Count
7:00 PM 16
7:30 PM 14
4:00 PM 9
10:00 PM 9
9:30 PM 8
9:00 PM 6
8:30 PM 5
6:30 PM 3
1:00 PM 2
3:00 PM 2
8:00 PM 2
2:00 PM 1
3:30 PM 1
6:00 PM 1
10:30 PM 1
11:00 PM 1


The the days between games has been more examined this year due to the Ottawa situation. I’ve added a total days between games this year, however I must caution on the use of that metric solely to determine fairness. As seen below, both Winnipeg and Ottawa have values substantially below the other teams in the total days metric. This is because Winnipeg has a bye in Week 1 and Ottawa in Week 20. The calculation has no date to compare against, therefore those days are not counted, whereas all other teams begin and end the season with a game. Winnipeg has 15 days between their first game and their previous June 15th pre-season game while Ottawa would have 15 days between games should they make the playoffs and play in a semi-final game, or 22 days if they finish first and are featured in the East Final. To make a fair comparison since other teams have pre-season days and playoff gaps not counted, split the difference and add seven days to their totals which is the difference between Week 1 and 2 and Week 19 and 20; they both then total 132 days. Along with the min/avg/max values, this puts all teams within range of each other. While it is true Ottawa has the short straw this year, and short turnarounds, the numbers are not different than other years for teams drawing that straw.

This does not take into account the single game played in the last three weeks of the season, nor the potential this could have with a first place finish. This is a quirk of the schedule, and the RedBlacks will have to overcome it if they see it as something in their way.

I should note these values are all calculated programmically, though the total is summed as days and hours total, with the hours exceeding 24 hours, so thay must be calculated in days and manually added to the total.

Table 3: CFL 2017 Regular Season Days Between Games by Team
Min Avg Max Total
BC 5 days 02:30 7 days 19:45 14 days 20:00 133 days 00:00
Calgary 4 days 22:00 7 days 19:52 15 days 03:00 133 days 02:00
Edmonton 5 days 05:00 7 days 19:35 14 days 05:30 132 days 21:00
Hamilton 4 days 23:30 7 days 17:07 16 days 23:00 131 days 03:00
Montreal 5 days 00:30 7 days 21:08 14 days 23:00 133 days 23:30
Ottawa 4 days 21:30 7 days 09:51 13 days 21:00 125 days 23:30 (132 days)*
Saskatchewan 5 days 03:00 7 days 22:33 13 days 23:00 134 days 23:30
Toronto 4 days 23:00 7 days 18:42 14 days 06:00 132 days 06:00
Winnipeg 5 days 01:00 7 days 08:30 13 days 05:00 125 days 00:30 (132 days)*


* – See above for explanation.

Conclusion

With stadium challenges behind it as evidenced by a more fan friendly Toronto schedule, the CFL still faces challenges and criticism with creating a schedule. With the calendar set and a summer clear of other major events competing for eyeballs, weather and onfield competition are the major factors to determine the success of the season. To avoid the same NOMS criticism next year, now is the time for the league to start discussing options to alleviate the problems the current schedule format creates.

Meta

2017 Schedule: NOMS was published on February 11, 2017 5:00 PM by dbo.

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This article is categorized under Game and tagged with schedules.

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