I have ideas on how we can improve and be able sustain the growth in the game, and make the league grow stronger. I asked myself a question: how can we grow this CFL to be able to grow in something bigger? Right scheduling format, right timing and right circumstances will help to foster the growth. With six keys points I will discuss on: expansion affecting league format, “Multi-Flex-Week? format for 9-teams league, Canada Day Kick-off idea, fixed schedule and Labour Day/Thanksgiving Weekend, and import rules. If you don't like one idea, and don't have time to digest these points, skip right to my next idea. There is a new playoff format that might catch your attention as a part of my idea to strengthen the league.
Since Friday Night Football is our signature night for the TV viewing but does it translate into the attendance with the full-house? I would love to see the stadium become a sold-out venture for the league. Of course, we can always expect some bad season that will not result in a sell-outs. What the NFL has worked so well over the years except for an odd Sunday where a certain teams don't sell out due to bad year where they have been knocked out of the playoffs by November. The point is:, we don't want to be a copycat to the NFL but sometimes its own tradition is better than the whole makeover changes. Sometimes we need an adjustments from year to year on what it works, what it doesn't work.
Since the CFL has expansion team planned for Ottawa for 2014, that will create the 9-team league but if they could somehow find a way to expand to the Atlantic province region where it will go up to 10-team league with perfect scheduling scheme for the league. This will create a balanced schedule, and eliminate the division format. There is no need for a divisions set-up because they play against all teams twice a year, one home and one away during the regular season. Top 6 makes the playoffs with top 2 getting the first-round bye. This way you will get the variety of the CFL playoffs match-ups for years to come. For the semi-finals, the top team get to play against the lowest ranked team and second place team will get the next higher first round winner team.
If we are having a 9-team league, it could create a problems with unbalance schedule and number of teams in a division. So what I am proposing, eliminate the divisions, play every team, twice a year, home and away. The extra two games should be based on rotation basis, one home and one away for next 8 years, at home once every 4 years. This will make for a 18-games regular season.
I would create a 4-year rotation groups so that every team will play the two extra games once every 4 years then reserve it for year 5 to year 8. This does not create the divisions or any sort of weird format. It is for extra games schedule purpose for each group. Keep in mind that the playoffs format is the league-wide. No more divisional playoffs or cross-over kind.
Two Extra Games Rotation (1 Home, 1 Away) (18-game Regular Season)
Year 1 and Year 5
Group A: BC, Edmonton, Calgary
Group B: Saskatchewan, Winnipeg, Hamilton
Group C: Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa
Year 2 and Year 6
Group A: BC, Saskatchewan, Toronto
Group B: Calgary, Winnipeg, Montreal
Group C: Edmonton, Hamilton, Ottawa
Year 3 and Year 7
Group A: BC, Winnipeg, Ottawa
Group B: Saskatchewan, Montreal, Edmonton
Group C: Toronto, Calgary, Hamilton
Year 4 and Year 8
Group A: BC, Montreal, Hamilton
Group B: Calgary, Saskatchewan, Ottawa
Group C: Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg
New to the idea: What I am also adding to this schedule is to create a multi-flex week games. The last place team for each group at the end of the Labor Day will get the bye week at the week 20 regardless of where they are in the standings. The week 1 to 17 will be based on the fixed one home and one away. On week 18-20, the rotation based scheduled games that I mentioned above, the two extra games will be held during that week with the last place team getting the bye on the week 20 after Labour Day. Here what it might look like: I will use the Year 1 groups to multi-flex the schedule after Labour Day. First place get week 18 bye, second place gets week 19 Bye and last place gets week 20 bye. Exception: a team gets week 17 bye will play week 18 and get week 19 off regardless. No team will get two weeks off in a row. Teams that comes off the bye will go on the road first for the first 4 years.
Group A, B, C- last placed team after Labor Day: Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Ottawa
Calgary at Edmonton
Winnipeg at Saskatchewan
Ottawa at Montreal
Bye: BC, Hamilton, Toronto
BC at Calgary
Hamilton at Winnipeg
Toronto at Ottawa
Bye: Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Montreal
Edmonton at BC
Saskatchewan at Hamilton
Montreal at Toronto
Bye: Calgary, Winnipeg, Ottawa
So for year 2, the week 18-20 will be different by the groups as I gave you an example above. It will not be the same schedule. When year 5 comes around, the home team will reserve as following: Edmonton at Calgary, Calgary at BC, and BC at Edmonton. You get the idea for rest of the schedule as reserved year 5 to 8.
You might ask me, why am I creating this “multi-flex week schedule?? The purpose is to prevent the first place team getting a first round bye in the playoffs if they are having a week 20 bye thus, creating two-week bye so this is to prevent this from happening. However, the standings can change quickly if the last place team leapfrogged the first place when they had a week 20 bye by that group. This might be very very rare for this to happen.
Canada Day Kickoff:
When 10 Teams league come to a reality, I would schedule the first game of the 10-team league by having all 10 teams playing on the Canada Day to start the season. The earliest they could do is in 2015 or so. On the July 1st, what a way to celebrate the Canada Day by having all teams playing on that day. This will create a quintuple-header day, perfect for TSN. I would schedule the games on that day starting at noon, eastern time. The games might look like this on the Canada Day:
Ottawa at Atlantic, noon Atlantic time, 11 am Eastern time
Toronto at Montreal, 2 pm Eastern time, 2pm Eastern time
Hamilton at Calgary, 2 pm Mountain time, 5pm Eastern time
Edmonton at Winnipeg, 7 pm Central time, 8pm Eastern time
Saskatchewan at BC, 8 pm Pacific time, 11pm Eastern time
With this Canada Day, what a way to kick off from the coast to coast and might get fans interested in the CFL on that day. The CFL needs to market this day properly and create a media hype to get fans riled up for that day. After the Canada Day, in 2015, teams will have 9-10 days off before the week 2 starts on a Friday night to Sunday.
The CFL needs to create a consistent schedule throughout the season. No more Thursday night or an odd Wednesday night games. From Week 2 to week 19, the CFL needs to be consistent with the schedule except for Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.
Saturday should be the main day of the football, they can start their games at 1pm, 4pm and 8pm eastern time. Friday night game needs to start with the constant starting time at 8 pm except for Atlatnic hosting a home game on Friday starting at 8pm local and that leaves us with a Sunday night football starting at 7pm eastern time. I think that CFL needs to have a fixed schedule so the fans will know when the game will be on. The CFL could do one double-header on a Friday night when Atlantic team is hosting a home game, then a mountain time zone based team or BC Lions starting at 8pm MST/ 7pm PST. This should be a rare Friday Night double-header, we don't want to watered down the quality of the games on Friday night since it is the Game of the Week.
To recap: Friday night: 8:30pm Eastern game time start from games when a city is hosting from Alberta to Quebec.
Friday night Double-Header: game time start: 8pm Atlantic time in Atlantic / 7pm Pacific time in BC.
Saturday: 1pm, 4pm, and 8pm
Sunday: 6pm start (no Sunday night game if Friday night doubleheader is being on the same week
We can use the months of August with every teams getting a bye week. Two teams should get a bye per week for total of 5 weeks with no Sunday night games, just Friday night and Saturday.
If we are having the 10-team league, we need to stick with the schedule that has been tradition for all teams except a few minor changes: Ottawa and Montreal will have its own Friday night slot on that Labor Day weekend while no games is being played on a Saturday so on Sunday, Saskatchewan can play its usual time slot start. On Labor Day, Atlantic should face BC Lions every year on a Monday. They could alternate the years, BC hosts the odd years while Atlantic host the even years. The schedule could look like this:
Toronto at Hamilton: 1pm eastern
Atlantic at BC, 4pm eastern, 1pm pacific
Edmonton at Calgary 7pm eastern, 5pm mountain
BC at Atlantic: 1pm eastern, noon Atlantic
Edmonton at Calgary: 4pm eastern, 2pm mountain
Toronto at Hamilton: 7pm eastern
As for Thanksgiving Day, should we keep two games on the schedule or add third games if we have a 10-team league? Friday night game and Saturday night games, no afternoon games on Thanksgiving weekend if we schedule a third Monday game. If we keep two games on schedule then Saturday 4pm eastern and 8pm eastern start.
With 10 teams league, we need to reduce import rules from 19 to 15 when two expansion teams so the quality of the game remain higher but more jobs to the Canadian football players. If we are expanding up to 9 teams, we need to reduce from 19 to 17 imports to keep the game quality high.
I believe with this key points, the fans will be more interested in the game with Canada Day Kickoff hoopla and more stability to the schedule knowing when the game is on rather than an educated guess on which day they play in and might as well recheck the schedule for the Multi-Flex Week format after Labour Day so they will know which day they will play. During the Multi-Flex Schedule, all teams must play on Saturday, rather than Friday night football. To conclude my points, I must expect some sort of disagreement on what format will work well for the league.