I think this was a B+ season - one of the better ones in the last decade.
Bums in seats remained stagnant - but that's of no concern because the CFL is becoming more TV Studio football vs. park experience football. Unless crowds decline 10-15% or more the TV funding supports and prospers the league. (can u imagine BC, Montreal or Toronto ownership trying to operate 5 million dollar payrolls plus operating costs without the massive spiff from Bell Media?)
Tv numbers slightly down - hopefully the TV lords are as ignorant to the numbers as they are to the crimes committed by Rod Black as an imitation sports announcer. If they consider lowering the spiff provided to CFL franchises - THERE WILL BE MASSIVE CONCERNS - MORESO THAN EVEN HOLDING THE GREY CUP IN OCTOBER!
Western conference is very healthy. BC needs a new owner but the old one ain't so bad - he's subsidizing a whole bunch of salary and operations out of his own pocket. There stadium is fine - the last indoor stadium in the land (although Toronto & Montreal could easily hold Grey Cups in either SKydown or Big 0).
Edmonton has a minor challenge with their abusive head coach but the franchise is very healthy.
Calgary needs a new stadium but oil-challenged alberta doesn't want to contribute funds. And owners won't throw in 150 to 250 million for a new park. . . . . if they can find their way to build a 40,000 covered stadium that would be outstanding, not only for Albertans, but for the entire league. But having a small business like the Stamps play only 10 or 11 home gates doesn't cut it. The bombers could have built a 35,000 indoor stadium for near the price the current IGF cost them (semi-guaranteed price of $175 million plus nearly $125 million in repairs and interest)
Sask'n has their great little community organization. A province of 1.2 million supporting the football team, not just the paltry city of Regina (195,000). Riders seem to have finally got the glue w/ Chris Jones rebuild (he was 20/20 about Durant) and cobbled together a fine season - came within a Ricky Ray eyelash of going to the Cup!
Winnipeg is probably in slightly more trouble than most realize but no concern this year or next. They get a ton of government support, the money they pay back in mortage goes back into their own coffers (sort of a sophisticated money-laundering system) and they've enforced stability in their management and coaching ranks (even if it means propping up unacceptable hobos in certain spots). Winnipeg fans are the lemmings of the CFL. They support trash, they support mediocrity and they support excellence - almost no differential between the 3.
A good 11-7 team last season (the final game vs. Calgary was a scheduling abnormality) their key players like Harris, Nichols, Denmark, Bryant, Dressler, etc. will be a year older. Mike O'Shea displayed slight improvement as a head coach but he's still dwarfed by giant coaching minds like Trestman, Dickenson & Jones. The Bombers will be anywhere from 8-10 to 11-7 next year (my money is on 9-9) and will be hard-pressed to nab 3rd in the west - - - - they'll probably fight with BC for the crossover opportunity to the last week of the schedule!
Eastern teams run a totally different program. One where 9-9 is excellence and the first half of the season is basically training camp and recruiting time. They don't play hard in the first half due to the mediocrity of the division. But when they get going - boy do they get going. While Toronto won the Grey Cup on flukes - they managed to squash the surging riders in the east final - and then the rest was history. Toronto, led by Ricky Ray & Trestman would also have kicked the bejeebers out of the 12-6 bombers cuz O'Shea and Hall would have been no match for Ray & Trestman.