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.
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:
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.
|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.
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.
* – 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).
|Unique Times||Mode (Local)||Freq Count|
|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.
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.
|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.
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.