Front Office SMS

I get it. The SMS is to prevent teams from blowing their brains out trying to hire a “Chris Jones”.

But it hamstrings a team that makes the mistake of blowing their brains out hiring a “Chris Jones” and having it not work out, for whatever reason.

When a team gets saddled with a coach or GM that has “lost the room” and can’t get rid of him due to SMS commitment, then the thing the SMS was put in place to protect (fiscal stability) gets murdered, because fans stop coming to the games, revenue suffers, fanbase gets decimated. Bad teams have bad gates. And teams with GM’s or coaches that have to be kept purely out of SMS issues do not get better, they get progressively worse. Especially when you are stuck with them for 3 more years.

I’ve come up with a simple fix. Just like the Player SMS, if a player is unable to play but still under contract, he is put on a long term IR, and his salary goes off SMS. The total SMS for the players remains the same, and you can replace that player with another, you do not have to leave that spot vacant.

If a coach is unable to do his duties, there should be a “Long Term IR” that teams can place him on. Remove his on going SMS hit from the cap, but leave the total cap in place. So you can replace him with a similar cost replacement, just like an injured player.

This allows a proactive ability to make front office change to maintain a team’s competitiveness, and maintain the attractiveness to the fans (gate) and media (viewers). While limping on with a lame duck coach/GM will cost a team a lot at the gate, those losses may not happen if a change is made, and the team should be able to afford the non-SMS payout from cutting loose a bad GM/coach by maintaining the revenue stream.

Teams will not be able to overspend on hiring a coach, or poach one from another team with a humongous offer, so the idea the SMS is supposed to address remains, but teams that need to make a change can, and hopefully the money they spend on a dead contract is less than the money they would lose having that coach/GM driving the team into the ground.

Is this too simple a solution? Does it make too much sense? Ask Elks fans… they aren’t even coming out for free…


Part of the reason the Elks hired Chris Jones in the first place was his ability to perform multiple tasks for less money than separate hires as the team was has to pay for previous firings. Even for this season, the Elks are paying $500,000 in dead money. Everybody forgets that the Elks are still being hampered. If they had the same money as other staffs this year, would there be a difference? Most likely, there would be some difference.

Next season if the Elks retain Jones, the team should be close to eliminating the front office dead money. If they fire Jones and he has money remaining, the Elks are just going to continue with this vicious cycle.

Problem with the Elks is they fired too many people in too short of a period. They were too impatient, and it is costing them badly. If they want to keep firing people and be forever burdened with dead money, there is nobody to blame but themselves.


This is excellent feedback.

I do not agree that the fix for coaches is as simple as you explain it to be in this part.

For the players as you explain, the associated salary goes off the Salary Management System.

The decision to move the player to IR is almost always driven by serious injury or rarely a mental impairment with other provisions to apply via any suspension, by the team or by the league, including for off-the-field legal trouble.

But for coaches, as you explain, what is to prevent a team owner who is, let’s say by analogy an overbearing and micromanaging Al Davis RIP, Jerry Jones or Dan Snyder type like in the NFL, from driving a coach onto such a list when he is otherwise able even though not performing very well at all?

As you explain the solution, there would be opportunity for such abuse by an owner and I have no doubt that it would happen in short order.

Unlike the player who is injured or impaired or in some hot water with the law, such a coach indeed is still able to do his job irrespective of underperformance.

Or the owner can always simply pay off his contract and let him go if his ego is just that strong about the matter.

That’s one challenge to solve for which the resolution to free up the SMS space as you otherwise explain could work, but I don’t think such a solution is simple in any case as some might feel it is like for players going on IR.


There’s no real quick fix to this. As others have stated, the Elks created this bind by cleaning house at the end of the 2021 season (a quick fix), giving the keys to Chris Jones (another quick fix IMO) and it’s not working out. This knowing the ops cap already exists which all teams have to manage too.

The best path is to work with what they got. The fact they went up 22-0 on Winnipeg in the first place shows there are pieces there. A losing culture doesn’t go away overnight. The next 5 games are more winnable.

As for the decline in revenue, there’s revenue sharing in place for a reason so the Elks will likely be a recipient. They’ll a be contributor again once they turn things around. Hopefully league wide they can increase the cap a bit next season which will benefit all teams while giving the Elks a bit more flexibility


The opportunity to remove a coach/GM and be able to replace him with a like valued coach/GM is something that does not exist right now, and the hole the Elks dug themselves into by giving guaranteed contracts to coaches who’s best before dates expired before contract end had put them at a reduced gate, getting worse every game, plus free seats.

If a player does not perform, you can cut him (up until vet cut day) with no continuing SMS issue. See SSK’s cut or Walker the other day. No SMS consequences from a bad signing decisions.

There is no similar situation for coaches, because their salaries are guaranteed. So having an SMS for them and not being able to move on from poorly performing front office personnel means that SMS needs to have a similar out.

My solution is a simple one, and a business decision by the beancounters. Does paying a coach to not coach make us more money than letting him coach badly? If te answer is yes, the team should be allowed to make that move, but never exceeding the SMS cap with their active staff. Can’t replace a guy with a more expensive guy, can’t hire a guy for too much, which is what the SMS is there for, to keep the playing field for hiring front office staff level.

The problem now is you cannot remove poorly performing front office staff with guaranteed contracts to make your team better. Period. Especially if you had to do it before.

Keep the playing field level by having a SMS cap on active front office staff. Once a coach/GM/executive is “cut”, they can no longer be in contact with the team, even if still getting paid, but that pay is outside the SMS. The benefit to the team is that they get the change they need to protect/improve their product and retain revenues, even if it is at a non-SMS cost…

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the last thing the CFL needs is to be penalizing teams in ways that affect the play quality.


The SMS already has an out where a team gets one mulligan every five years. In addition they can ammorizte salaries for fired coaches/GMs etc… over a 5 year period. So the Elks are already paying front office staff not to do their jobs.

Can these 2 functions be removed in exchange for counting putting all fired personel as non SMS expenses? The cap was put in for a reason, I can’t see them implementing something that would just inflate it.


I have very little understanding of contract law in the U.S., and NO idea of how it compares to contract law in Canada, but I hope there would be some possibility of including requirements for minimum performance requirements in coaches’ contracts. This could be an escape clause for an employer who has a seriously under-performing worker. I realize that many coaching candidates would not like this and would shy away from signing such a contract; but if they want the security of a multiyear contract, they need to understand the employers’ desire to have some assurance that they are not taking the risk of being stuck with paying for bad or no results. This is a fact for the vast majority of wage/salary earners and it should apply to management and athletic coaches as well. There will be some candidates who will refuse to sign such a contract, but that might be a sign of their confidence, or lack of it, in their abilities.
I know there are coaches who insist on performance bonuses in their contracts, how about the first performance bonus is they get to keep their job?

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I’m not sure that creating an artificial injury list is a good way to address the issue here. As Paolo said it would be open to abuse.

This issue has been discussed frequently on this forum and suggestions have been made such as limiting the penalty to one year or decreasing the penalty over time.

I think we all agree that the system as presently constituted is hurting the poor teams more than it should.

But there has to be an operations cap in a league with a salary cap and equalization payments as without one teams would be free to spend like drunken sailors and some teams would no doubt have many more coaches on staff than other teams. That also wouldn’t be fair or mesh with the players salary cap and the concept of equalization payments. The question it seems is what is the right balance and what can be done to lessen the severity of operations cap penalties on the poor teams of the day that are hindered in their improvement.

I also don’t think it is realistic to not offer coaches guaranteed contracts. That is simply the market. Every league the CFL competes with for coaches offers guaranteed contracts so that is a non starter.


OK, two things…

I’m not saying make up an artificial injury list, but rather something analagous to it for front office SMS.

Second, the drunken sailor spending would not happen. The only way you get SMS releif is by replacing a coach/GM with another making the same or less. At any moment, you will only have your SMS level of coaches / executives acting on behalf of your team. The only way you can spend is by removing an equivalent from your front office staff.

Every team would operate day to day with the same amount of SMS being spent on current active staff.

Active SMS will be the exact same for every team, no team can overspend on their coaching staff at any time. Its just when they have to make a change, which will undoubtedly be because they are in trouble, they won’t be double penalized for trying to make things better. The league gets better, and no one has a buying advantage, they are still restricted by the “Active Staff SMS”.

I guess if you are doing well, but a better coach comes available, you could dump your present one and hire the better one, but I don’t think anyone would do that.

It’s been three days now. Has anyone else been able to figure out how all this keeps a team from paying two people when only one is doing the job, Or how it makes the severance payout NOT an expense which the team can’t afford?

They put the SMS in place to prevent you from doing exactly what you propose. They want teams to make money, not to spend millions on non existent personnel. Do you want a league where the staff makes more than the team roster and the team drowns in red ink?

Maybe teams need to start changing the way contracts are written? Shorter terms plus an option perhaps?

For now the ELKS for example are building a young team, so they say, so stick with the plan and coaching and sell it to the fans. Don’t give the next team an easy out.


It would take us back to a time prior the the cap system. Hire as many as you like. Fire as many as you like. In other words, it doesn’t.

What i would like to see however is a way to exempt a certain amount of cap for developmental coaches and assistants. We need to take care of our future.

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He won last night and seems to be turning it around with the limited resources he was given. Took awhile to find the right QB in his stable but Ford was not healthy for the first 6 games.

He won last night against Ham’s 3rd string QB with a brand new OC. But yeah, he won. Although he tried to give the win to HAM in the second half, but Leigghio left 9 points wide of the goalposts, and Powell did not know where the LOS was, and made a “veteran” move in throwing the ball away, unfortunately taking a huge penalty for it.

Jones hasn’t worked out anything. Beating the 2nd worst team in the league with their 3rd string QB is no endorsement. It is better than losing in that scenario, but he’s far from fielding a cup contender, which was the expectation from him being Chris Fricking Jones.

Cui left, sad to see it, he seemed a decent guy to right the ship. He unfortunately got dealt a crap hand, inheriting the newly anointed Jones, and being hamstrung in having to keep him, because SMS.


My provision for an “active cap” does not mean hire as many as you want, fire as many as you want. It means hire as many as you want to a maximum at any time, and you cannot hire more without firing some first.

SMS moves on players happen all the time, because their contracts until recently, had no guaranteed money until vet cut down days. You can bring a Shawn Lemon into camp and toss him out to sign Kongbo, and then trade Kongbo… and end up saving SMS money. Players no longer playing for you do not affect the cap (except for signing bonuses).

But coaches no longer working for you can affect the cap for many years after. You can be paying 3 HC’s at the same time, all coming out of the current cap. My concept is that you can pay those three, sure, and your beancounters have to make THAT work, but from an SMS standpoint, on the ones currently working for you are accounted for under the cap.

This means every team will have the exact same budget for coaches currently running the team. Exact same SMS budget.

Right now, bad teams that have to make coaching changes are faced with a double challenge. One, get better. Two, do it with LESS money available for coaching staff, because the fired guys are eating up a bunch of it.

How is a team supposed to get better? With fewer, lower paid coaches/executives trying to right the ship? They can’t. And the haves get richer, and the have nots get poorer, and we end up with a league that has 3 dominant teams, 3 m’eh teams, and three that struggle to be in games, never mind win them.

From my perspective, its income vs. expenses. How do you think the gate is in EDM. In HAM. Even in OTT. Good teams draw fans.

Would new coaches make better teams, and drive revenue? Pretty sure they wouldn’t hurt the gate. And each seat not sold is revenue lost forever. It doesn’t take a lot of lost seats to pay for the salary of a fired coach.

Because teams can’t make changes due to a rule, even if they wanted to and could afford it, their revenue slips, and gets harder to recapture.

Teams would not be paying millions on non existent personnel. A few select teams could make a business decision that paying a coach NOT to coach for them might actually net them more money. But, with the SMS in the present form, they cannot make that decision. They are forced to watch the gate die and their red ink grow.

EDM Started the year with 30k fans in the seats. Last game, barely 19k. Even at $30 seat, that about million dollars every 3 games. Pays for a lot of coaches, especially if that continues to trend down…


That makes it a lot harder to attract decent coaches. They just pop down to one of thousands of NCAA schools that will happily give them a guaranteed contract.

The SMS has absolutely killed the ability to develop coaches, and also the willingness by teams to take a chance on hiring new blood. If a team takes on a rookie coach, they’re stuck with him until his term runs out, win or lose. So instead they hire old, “proven” guys, and the league stagnates.

The SMS has now seriously injured competitiveness, and thus gate/income, for several teams, including the Elks and last year’s Riders. The Riders are still struggling because they couldn’t dump their GM and coach, even though the money is there. Do you really think the Riders wouldn’t have a better OC if it wasn’t for Dicks and ODay still being there? (Hint… they offered the job to multiple people who turned it down… they had to go quite a way down the list)

The ops cap has really, truly damaged the on-field product. If this keeps up, good coaches simply won’t come here, and we’ll end up like minor hockey where they rope one of the players’s dads into volunteering.


Super fans of teams are great, but along these lines, for sure the last thing we want is some homer’s uncle on the coaching staff with a whole host of bright ideas that in turn his super fan nephew tells you all about when you run into him.

We’ve all known that guy whether super fan, related to a celebrity, or that bojack full of it all the time at work.

Agreed on what you say but I say there is no harm in letting Elks fans celebrate for one week.

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