An Argument for 1 Division League

Here is an argument for a single division league. Consider that in the west with 2 weeks left in the season, the playoff picture is completely set. In the east, the playoff teams have been established as Hamilton is out. Let’s take a look & see what the league would look like if the divisions were abandoned.

2006 CFL League Standings as of October 17:

BC 11 5 22pts 2 Games Remaining
CGY 10 7 20pts 1 GR
TOR 10 6 20pts 2 GR
MTL 9 7 18pts 2 GR
SSK 8 8 16pts 2 GR
WPG 8 8 16pts 2 GR
EDM 5 11 10pts 2 GR
HAM 4 13 8pts 1 GR

Let’s assume a 6 team playoff with 1 & 2 earning byes while 3-6 play in the first round. Here BC wouldn't be wind-milling through its final two games as it still would have to fend off Toronto for 1st place & the right to play the worst team in the semi-final to the Grey Cup. Calgary would have both Toronto & Montreal on its tails for the right to host a Grey Cup semi-final instead of coasting through its final game. Saskatchewan would still be in the running for its first home playoff game since forever.

With the CFL making very little noise right now, a single division league would at least provide some compelling playoff scenarios & increase the number of meaningful games toward the end of the season. It would be good to gain exposure instead of having the sports media focus so heavily with the baseball playoffs which without the Jays have absolutely nothing to do with the sporting scene in this country.

I admit the run in the east is compelling. But bringing some of these western teams into the fold would add to the suspense heading into the playoffs.

I'm also a fan of tradition & seeing the East & West titles go would be a tough pill to swallow but bringing significance to the otherwise lame-duck games we get this time of year is important in selling the CFL. Perhaps the division titles could be retained & awarded to the team with the best regular season record in the classical East & West divisions without playoff scenario implications.

What could be better than a Hamilton vs. Toronto Grey Cup?

A Hamilton vs. Toronto Grey Cup in BC? I guess it could still happen today with the cross-over.

I personally think the benefits of preserving the east-west rivalry outweigh the benefits of adding more meaning to a handful of games at the end of the season. That's probably why all the major North American sports leagues maintain some form of division structure.

I think that rivalries do make a good reason for divisional play. The thing that should be kept in mind is that these leagues all have around 30 teams. Enough so that you can play a completely balanced slate of games against division rivals while still having compelling races in a conference of 14 - 16 teams. So despite having divisions in the other North American leagues, there's still for the most part competition amongst at least 14-16 teams. In the CFL, you're competing against 3 other teams unless of course there's a crossover in which case you're essentially competing against 4 other teams. This makes for some pointless games at the end of the season. In the case of the west division this year, 2 weeks of meaningless games for those teams. For the eastern opponents of these teams in the nest 2 weeks, their competition is not representative thus now tainting the eastern playoff picture.

I think its time the league grows up & incorporates a single division until there are at least 10 teams in the league.

They could set it up similar to the NHL.

Keep the divisions for the purpose of determining which 2 teams get the bye, one from the east, one from the west.

Seed the other 6 teams in order regardless of division.

There are good arguments on both sides here. I think the rationale for division is getting old, though. They are a relic of a by-gone era when travel costs were high and teams played only divisional rivals.

This is an interesting topic, as I think the whole idea of the CFL being a one division league (for now, at least) should at least be seriously considered. I heard that making the CFL a one division league was considered after the Ottawa Renengades had their operations suspended. And taking a look at what the standings would be if there were a one division league should give those against the idea of a one division league something to consider. Every game would have more implications as was pointed out. Those consecutive Montreal-Saskatchewan games sure would have been more interesting. And to expand on what was already pointed out, if Saskatchewan finished ahead of Montreal in the standings, wouldn't they deserve to finally host a playoff game?

I figure the main reason there are separate divisions is to make the Grey Cup final and eastern team versus western team match. The whole east vs. west rivalry is considered one of the things people like to see in Grey Cup games, it seems. Sure, if you want rivalries, the greater possiblity of Hamilton-Toronto and Edmonton-Calgary Grey Cup games could be a good. But perhaps only for fans who are in the area where these teams play. Not many people in the east might be as interested in an Edmonton-Calgary final. And this reminds me of any game when Winnipeg was in the East Division and was in the Grey Cup final. Those games were said to have lower ratings because they were considered games between western teams. I don't have the exact numbers on what those ratings were, so I can't be sure of how much effect a non-east-vs.-west Grey Cup game would have on ratings. But with Winnipeg in the East Division, maybe the league should at least experiment with a one division league until Ottawa or another city in the east is given a team.

And as has been pointed out before, none of the east division teams appear to be particularly worthy of a Grey Cup final appearance. It does not seem right to see an an impressive team defeat even worse teams to get into the Grey Cup final. I'd prefer to not see the the Grey Cup get upstaged by the west division final. A B.C.-Calgary Grey Cup game could actually be quite entertaining, especially consiering recent events...

Just a few things to think about.