The 2014 CFL Schedule was released on Wednesday, February 12th and naturally every die-hard & loyal CFL Fan quickly perused it looking for rivalry match-ups, road-trip opportunities, summer holiday planning & of course the most important thing; “When’s Our Home Opener!?
Scheduling in the CFL is always an interesting proposition in any given year when you consider the wide differences in team venues, team preferences, & franchise traditions. But 2014 posed even greater challenges to the league schedulers when you consider that a 9th team begins play this season in Ottawa & two franchises, aforementioned Ottawa & Hamilton, have new stadiums to move into after the current year campaign begins.
Of course there can never be a truly “perfect? schedule that pleases absolutely everyone – from fan to player to coach to media partners. Everyone will have at least an issue or two or ten with what the league administrators have drawn up. But is there a way to truly quantify if any team has an advantage over another when it comes to "the hand that’s been dealt to them" in the form of their playing schedule?
I looked at a few different factors. First of which is the duration between games which I would imagine is of primary concern to coaches, players & team officials. The league did a fairly good job at delivering balance & equality in this area but there are some interesting things that come out when you delve into the numbers. Preparation times for home games & away games begin to differ greatly between the 9 CFL Franchises. Also, when you look at extended road trips & home stands, you begin to see the difficulties & disparities when it comes to scheduling in the CFL.
So let’s look at each team’s schedule when it comes to;
- Time off between all games, home games & away games
- Shortest work weeks & frequency
- Extended road trips & home stands & frequency
British Columbia Lions
The Lions’ schedule is fairly balanced. Overall they have the 3rd most days between all games but that is split by having the 2nd most days off in preparation for road games but the 2nd fewest days off in preparation for home games.
Their shortest time between games is 6 days, compared to everyone else’s 5 days, but that happens to occur 4 different times during the year – the most times in the league. Their longest road trip is a 2 game stretch, not unlike most other teams, but again that happens a league leading 3 different times through the season.
Eskimos coaches, players & fans should be happy with the 2014 schedule as it looks to be one of the leagues easiest. 2nd most time between all games, 4th most preparation for away games & 5th most time off before home games puts them in the middle of the pack as far as preparation time.
But it’s the fact that their shortest time between games of 5 days occurs only once during the season & that the Eskimos have only 1 road trip of 2 games away from Commonwealth that makes Edmonton’s schedule quite favorable compared to others in the league.
Calgary sits right in the middle of the pack tied for 3rd with 3 other teams when it comes to average time off between all games during the 2014 CFL Season. The Stampeders have the 3rd most time for preparation when going on the road but only the 6th most time off when playing at home.
Their shortest time off before a game is also 5 days, which occurs once during the year. Two times during the season they will be away from McMahon for a 2 game stretch. This is balanced by having a 2 game home stand twice during the year.
Saskatchewan has real polar opposites when it comes to their schedule. They have the most days off before hosting opponents at home in Regina while they have the least amount of preparation time when they go on the road outside of the comfy confines of Mosaic. Overall, they Riders are tied with 3 other teams with the 3rd most time off between all games.
Much like most of the other teams, their shortest week before a game is 5 days, but this happens 3 times during the season, which is more than the average for the league.
Two road trips of 2 games outside of Saskatchewan is on par with the rest of the league, yet only 1 home stand of 2 games is tied for the least in the league.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The Bombers have a pretty tough schedule overall with their return to the Western Division. 2nd fewest days off before all games on average, 2nd fewest days of preparation before road games & 4th most time before home games makes for a tough grind overall.
A short week of 5 days of preparation occurs twice during the season for Winnipeg. Two times in the year the Bombers will have a 2 game road trip away from Investors’ Field while that is balanced with similar 2 home field stands of 2 games each.
Hamilton starts the season with 3 road games as the final touches are completed at Tim Horton’s Field, but overall their schedule is not terribly arduous. The TiCats are tied with 3 other teams for the 3rd most time off between all games. This is split by having the 3rd least amount of time to prepare to go on the road, yet having the 3rd most time before taking the field in their new stadium.
A short week of 5 days of preparation occurs twice during the season for Hamilton. Their longest road trip is a 3 game stretch & another of 2 games makes for extended time away from SteelTown. Yet this is balanced with 2 game home stands 3 times during the 2014 campaign.
As usual, the Double Blue have one of the strangest schedules in the CFL or professional sports period. The Argos have no home games for a 4 week period that encompasses all of September while they spend the entire month of October in The Big Smoke.
Overall they have the most time off between all games, the 6th most preparation time for away games & the 2nd most time off before hosting at RogersSkyBMOCentreDomeField.
As already noted, Toronto goes on the road for a 4 game stretch but also has a 4 game home stand during the 2014 CFL Season. They also have a 3 game stretch during baseball’s dog days of summer where they will be playing away from home.
It appears that the Ottawa REDBLACKS have the most difficult schedule in their inaugural season. They have the least amount of days off between games, but that does not account for them beginning the season on a bye week.
The newest CFL Franchise has the 5th most amount of time to prepare for road trips & the 3rd least amount of time to get ready to entertain fans at TD Place/Lansdowne.
5 day work weeks occur twice during the year for Ottawa. The REDBLACKS go on the road for 2 game stretches twice during the year while they have 2 game home stands 3 times during their inaugural year.
Montreal appears to have one of the easier schedules in the league with the 2nd most preparation time between all games. However this is split between having the most time before heading on the road but while having the least amount of time to before playing at Percival Molson Stadium.
3 different times throughout the year, the Als will have a short 5 day work week. Two times this season, the Larks will be on a 2 game road trip while they enjoy a 2 game home stand 3 times in 2014 A.A.C (After Anthony Calvillo)
So, that’s how the schedules break down for each and every team. Looking forward to hearing people’s feedback. (If any … I’m a geek I find this stuff interesting … Don’t know if any/everyone else does!)
Raw data to follow … (As soon as I can format it up to copy & paste here in presentable fashion!)