Mike Toth's Rant About the CFL

Here is the rant about the CFL and his ideas on how to improve the league:

"Two weeks into the season, there are already three things to dislike.

Even for a loudmouth radio talk show host, it's sometimes tough to pick a fight.

Tuesday on The Fan 590 in Toronto, the phone lines were wide open for folks to argue with yours truly after I took a run at the Canadian Football League.

Don't get the wrong idea.

Born and raised in western Canada where the CFL is a religion, I'm down with three downs, Gainer the Gopher and Oskee Wee Wee. Heck! As a fresh-faced broadcaster back in the 1980s, I even co-hosted the "Save our Stamps" telethon that was staged to bail out the cash-strapped Calgary Stampeders.

Still, no professional sports league is perfect and on Tuesday I went public with three things that bug me about Canadian football.

1.) Not enough teams, creating a lack of variety in the schedule.

2.) A serious lack of on-field discipline, leading to a parade of penalties.

3.) The import ratio requiring teams to carry 20 Canadians, which excludes a lot of Americans who are more talented.

Preparing to unleash that complaint list over the airwaves, I rubbed my hands together in gleeful anticipation of the sparks that were about to fly as people sentenced me to hell for hacking the CFL. But other than "George from Hamilton", a pigskin protectionist who wants to maintain the CFL's Canadian content, nobody else wanted to go toe-to-toe with the ol' Tother.

Now, I realize that these are the dog days of summer and that most people are at the cottage with their feet up and their radios off. But regardless of the circumstances, I normally don't have to work very hard to get people to yell at me.

Fortunately, there's another forum designed to give folks a chance to tee-off on their friendly neighbourhood multi-media moron: Welcome to Sportsnet.ca, providing me an opportunity to expand on my CFL beefs and giving you one more crack at taking the ol' Tother to task..

here is the rest of it:

1.) Variety is the spice of … football

Give me Halifax, Moncton, Ottawa, Quebec City ... or give me death.

Thankfully, CFL commissioner Mark Cohon is also a big fan of increasing membership to the current crazy eight, and it can't come a moment too soon.

Toronto vs. Hamilton, Saskatchewan vs. Winnipeg, Edmonton vs. Calgary … geographical rivalries that certainly make sense, but the schedule is getting older than Anthony Calvillo. Those defending the CFL's monotonous match-ups are the same grizzled vets who wax poetic about the NHL's Original Six. Sure, there was something special about Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard knocking heads a dozen times a year but citizens of today's fast-paced world demand more variety. After all, if Paris Hilton can enjoy multiple boy toys, there's no reason CFL fans can't demand a few more teams.

And what about taking our pigskin to Paris?

True, CFL expansion to the U.S. was a complete flop the first time around. I recall heading to California to cover a CFL tilt featuring the Sacramento Gold Miners, only to discover that nobody in the city even knew they existed. In fact, I was late getting to the game because I couldn't find a cab driver who knew the location of the temporary stadium that had been set up to house the team.

Still, I'm almost tempted to break out my vintage David Archer Gold Miners jersey to reminisce about a time when there were more than just a handful of starting quarterbacks in the CFL.

2.) Gridiron goons

Media-types would obviously never think of challenging CFLers to a grudge match on a football field.

But a hockey rink is neutral territory and I've been part of a few charity shinny contests against Canadian footballers that have taken a violent twist. A few years ago, for instance, I found myself in the middle of a "Media vs. Toronto Argos" game that the referee brought to a halt in the second period because things were getting out of hand. Football players, you see, are large men who tend to be fairly competitive and they certainly don't want to lose any sort of contest to a bunch of out-of-shape reporters.

Unfortunately, however, some CFLers bring that hockey mentality to the football field.

Last Saturday, the Argos took no less than seventeen penalties and ended up blowing a game against Saskatchewan. Adriano Belli was one of the biggest culprits and in the more disciplined world of the NFL, the big defensive tackle would be in danger of being cut loose by his team. But even though Bart Andrus berated Belli over his lack of discipline, the hands of the Argos coach are tied. Belli is a talented player when he keeps his emotions in check and because the CFL requires seven Canadians to be part of a squad's 24-man starting line-up, the Toronto native is virtually guaranteed job security.

What to do about that dirty little fact?

Read on, my friends.

3.) An open playing field

The Oilers are hanging their netminding hopes on a Bulin Wall from Russia; a set of Swedish twins are Vancouver's most popular hockey players; and Toronto hoops fans think it's terrific that the Raptors have signed a Big Turk.

But if you dare suggest that the CFL would be a more entertaining product by doing away with its Canadian quota and bringing in more Americans, you might as well set our flag on fire and get it over with. Rhetoric aside, however, there would always be a place in the CFL for talented native sons such as Kamau Peterson, Brent Johnson and (provided he doesn't flip out) Adriano Belli.

Some people say that a failure to protect CFL roster spots for home grown talent would do serious damage to university football in our country.

But since when did Canadians care about the CIS?

I've been to a number of college games -- including Vanier Cups -- that have been played in half-empty stadiums. Most of the kids playing university ball certainly aren't in it for the glory and the majority realize that, even with the CFL, their chances of a pro career are slim and none.

On the other hand, there are countless Americans with superior ability who need a job in pro football much more than their Canadian counterparts.

Graduating from a big time U.S. school with a phony degree, only to wind up flipping burgers definitely isn't a good thing.

But it's no less a crime than a Canadian kid taking up a $40,000 roster spot just because of his birth certificate, when he could be using his education to make a lot more money on Bay Street.

:o Certainly some controversial viewpoints.

Well the first one no one can do much about that. The second one what are you supposed to do if someone flips out and throws a helmet for example but call a penalty. The third if you take Canadians off the field with cheap American talent then whats the point for Canadian kids to paly football and aspire to play in the CFL. I think Toth is just trying to create some talk thats about all I cant see him not seeing the reality of his comments.

But couldn't a reduced ratio accomplish the goal of letting Canadian born kids have a place to play pro ball? Why is 7 starters the magic number? Couldn't let say 4 Canadian starters do the same thing?

Well, after reading both posts, it sounds to me like this Toth character is an idiot, and as Bobby said, he's just trying to stir the pot. I was going to type up a long counter-post, but it's late, and to be perfectly honest, it's not worth my time.

Toth already said for himself that its super hard for a Canadian to get to this level now eliminating more spots makes it even harder. The best atheletes wont play QB cause they know they have a zero chance of playing that position in the CFL. Same kind of thing. I hate the idea of lowering the Canadian content, whats next some guys rant on how they should reduce the width of the field 10 yards or make it 4 downs cause some reporter likes to watch endless amounts of running plays. Good job Toth you got me. :slight_smile:

Whats wrong with it being harder? Isn't pro sports supposed to be about the best making it through to play the best? If anything, ratio should better reflect the difference in population between the US and Canada. Those other players can't make it due to inferior talent. They shouldn't get a roster spot just because of their birth certificate

So how is that our problem? American kids fake thier way through school so WE should help them out by giving them OUR JOBS?
Last time I looked, this was Canada and we owe nothing to Americans with phoney degrees!
They have the most redicilous JOB PROTECTION system there is and we should favour them instead of Canadians because it would be a shame for them to flip burgers?

Cmon now. Let's not pick on the Amewiccans, they have enough problems LOL! Plus they are still in mourning :roll:

Why should we make our football teams out of foreign players? How many players from the Penguins are from Pittsburg? ( let me give you a hint -- zero ). How many players from the Penguins are from Pensylvania? ( let me give you another hint -- still zero ).

Our football teams are a tough sell in this market. If you can get the people to buy into the fact that it's "their" team, and they have some local, hometown talent on the club, the fans take more of an ownership in the team -- which helps give it an identity as a "home" team.

I thought it was a good discussion piece. I don't think he was bashing the CFL, I think he was prompting discussion.

God, Toth is stupid. Pay no attention to him; his mouth runs faster than his brain.

Toth is playing the Rogers company line, bash the CFL as much as possible. It's what Phil Lind wants. Nothing more, nothing less. I don't put Mike down for this, his job is create controversy as well or Rogers puts him on the street looking for work. Do I find Mike enjoyable to listen to on air? No, I don't like how he comes across but the guy isn't a bad guy, just kind of a very odd character for a reporter. No question he has motor mouth and I doubt he'll ever get hired by a real sports media company. 8)

I'll give Mikey credit, he just published a reply on his blog that I thought no way he would publish, good on him for that I'll say. wow

you know what I love, (sarcastically)?

there's no way to directly contact or email the guy.

he's willing to write crap about the CFL yet not willing to take heat from people for it.

cflisthebest, just reply on the blog, he'll probably publish it, as I say I couldn't believe he published mine with the Phil Lind comments I made. I'm impressed with that have to admit.

Sorry. Didn't see that you had covered this topic already.

But if Toth and other Rogers Sportsnet writers would write similar articles about baseball or basketball or the NFL, I would respect them more. But they don't. Which is why I don't.

berezin, we all know that Rogers has to promote their stuff like it's the next big thing out there, it's so obvious it's basically a joke in itself. I think everyone knows this, not just CFL fans. Sometimes I can't believe when I watch Sportsnet which I do from time to time and the commercials they have for the Jays and some other stuff they cover, it just reminds me that they really are just what they are, a company making a buck. Just take them with a grain or bucket of salt and laugh, really.

I agree Earl.
But judging by the number of pro CFL responses to his article, it shows the silent majority has had enough.

IMO Toth is more of a sports personality than a sportscaster or sports reporter, so what he thinks doesn't really matter that much. But it wasn't that bad of an article. He had 3 points: expansion, discipline and the import ratio. I agreed with him for 2 of his 3 points.

We all want an expansion team in Halifax. OK well, that's just me. We're all of differing opinions on the plausibility of expansion, but we pretty much all want a 10 team CFL. But how big does a league really have to be? IMO 8 teams is the bare minimum, but anything over 10 is unnecessary. For instance, I only watch NHL games when my favorite team is involved or if two Canadian teams are playing. I couldn't care less about 2/3rds of the NHL.

The benefit of a small league like the CFL is that you can follow all of the teams. You have to be pretty hardcore to name 3 receivers on every NFL team, but I'm sure lots of us could name 3 receivers on each CFL team. I care about every CFL team (I just don't happen to like one of them)

And who doesn't want fewer stupid penalties? Add to that, I'm pretty I've heard people around here say that Belli would be out of the league if he wasn't Canadian. He was spot on about "gridiron goons"

But Toth was way off the mark about the import ratio. Here's a little sample of his stupidity...

Ask people in Saskatoon, Kingston, Halifax, London or QC if they care about CIS football. Canadians do care about CIS football. Not everyone does, but not every Canadian cares about hockey or the Maple Leafs either (gasp - yes it's true)

And so what if they play in half empty stadiums? What about the half empty Roger's Centre for Jays games? Let's see Toth show a little backbone and consistency and blog that the since the Rogers Centre is routinely half empty, it proves that nobody cares about the Jays.

Toth doesn't understand that almost every sports league in the world has roster restrictions just like the CFL. American leagues don't, but they're the exception not the rule. Even the top soccer leagues in the world have roster rules like the CFL.

Answer me this Mike Toth... if there are countless American football players with superior ability, how did Canadians make up 25% of the 2008 CFL All-Stars?