O'Leary: Digging into the 2023 CFL schedule

If you haven’t yet already, the release of the 2023 CFL schedule allows us to officially close the book on the 2022 season and start to shift into the new/coming year.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.cfl.ca/2022/12/13/oleary-digging-into-the-2023-cfl-schedule/

Hello, I'm from BC, but that being said, I am more of an overall CFL fan and am concerned that all teams should have a fair shake at the schedule.

Obviously I don't want to be nit picky, but after that horrendous scheduling from the 2022 season, I'm hoping for a vastly improved schedule - in fact, it really caused me to give up on watching some of the games after awhile because the scheduling was so crazy! Now if I remember correctly, the actual schedule that ended up being the one that we got in 2022, had to go through some amendments, so maybe there wasn't too much of choice for a "final" result. I've been involved in sports for many years, and I realize that sometimes "odd scheduling" can't be helped at times, but sometimes I have to admit that I have to scratch my head when I do see such things taking place.

Now did not Toronto have a bye in week 1 of the schedule in 2022? Why do they have to have that again, in 2023? What really concerns me, however, is that their last pre season game is on June 1, and then their first game is played on the 18th (almost 3 weeks later?). If you ask me, the schedule needs to be "spaced" a lot better than this.

I can understand that no team wants to have a bye in the first week, so why does Toronto have to "suffer" this fate again (unless Pin Ball Clemons asked for this?). But then as I just pointed out, their first game is almost 3 weeks later? If I was a true Argos fan, I would be furious!

I don't understand how the schedule makers can't at least get this initial start to the 2023 CFL schedule off to a better start???

Anyway, all in all, I hope things work out better this season.

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Seems to be better, Dale.

Games that should be neutral sites

  1. Edmonton @ Toronto on Friday October 6, 23. Last time the Elks played in Toronto was the 2021 re-scheduled game that was played on a Tuesday. Just over 6k showed up for that game. I'm sure that won't be the case again (Hopefully).

  2. Ottawa @ Toronto on Sunday, August 13. In 2022, this was Toronto's 2nd worst attended game at just over 10k. The special circumstances was that Ottawa wasn't a good team.

  3. Saskatchewan @ Toronto on Saturday July 29. It's already designated as a neutral site game. Last year the attendance was just under 11k. I would make sure it's played in Moncton. Sell tickets section by section. Expand seating only as necessary. Apparently the setting up of temporary seating is quite expensive.

  4. BC @ Toronto on July 3. Toronto's 4th worst attended game in 2022 at just over 11k. BC and Toronto don't like to watch each other play. Just the facts. I can't imagine a big crowd on a Monday this year. We'll see.

  5. Ottawa @ Montreal on Saturday, June 10. Montreal's first match against Ottawa was the worst attended game in 2022 for the Alouettes (just over 15.3k). The good news is that this year it's the home opener for Montreal so perhaps they'll do better.

  6. BC @ Montreal on September 2. Last year the attendance was just over 15.5k (2nd worst for Alouettes). I have to think the reason why BC gets a Labour Day Weekend matchup against Montreal is the hope that the long weekend will boost attendance.

  7. Saskatchewan @ Montreal on Friday August 11. Last year the attendance was just over 16k. Another east vs west game that doesn't do well.

  8. Hamilton @ BC on Saturday August 6. Last year's attendance was around 16k (2nd worst for BC). Thankfully Bobo went to the game. Special circumstances. It's the summer in a dome.

  9. Hamilton @ Montreal on Saturday October 28. Last year the attendance was just over 17k. I have to think the CFL is hoping that the last week of the season will be meaningful and the attendance will be bigger. The danger is that it won't be meaningful at all.

If you're a Toronto/Montreal/BC fan and aren't sure which games should get your hard earned dollars then these would be the ones. If you can't make it to the game then hopefully you tune in. If it's a snoozefest then at least leave the TV on while you fire up the barbeque.

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First thing I noticed was the Argos on a bye week 1 again. It's insane back to back years, especially after winning the cup! They should be either Thursday night or Friday nights game week 1!

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Maybe there's something going on with the CNE that week that we don't know about. I can't think of another reason.

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Alright here we go concerning the Eastern schedule. Take your personal team bias out of this for a second and just follow me here. There is a lot of grumbling to why Hamilton and Toronto play each other 4x. The criticisms are that it is 'boring' and 'why do some of the eastern teams only play a western team 1x, while Ham-Tor (for example here) play each other 4x.'

My take is I'm ok with a 4 game mini series in the east since there are only 4 teams in it. The problem is that season to season its always the same teams that play each other that many times no matter what their record was the previous season.

I liked how it was a few years ago. You earned your season for the next year depending how well, or not so well the team fared. Which could also affect 'nothing games' at the end of the season when players are being rested.

If a team is 1st and 2nd in the east from the previous season they should have to play each other in that 4 game mini series. That also ensures the 3rd and 4th place teams will play each other in the other 4 game mini series. Although not foolproof, it gives teams more movement up and down the ladder. If you are a strong team you play another strong team in the division. If you are developing, you play vs a team that is also developing.

Right now there is the chance that the 1st place team will get more of an easy path to a winning record by not playing the 2nd place team as much. Does that seem correct? Does that even make for a strong division? What does that also mean for 4th place in a weak division? 4th place play the 2nd place team 4x as well right now...

I get any team should be able to beat any team regardless of the schedule. Lets face it, some teams get stuck for a few years in the developmental phase and just need that push to get out of it. Powerhouse teams may still be competitive or have lost a few pieces but are still in the top 2 the next year. Having those teams play each other is more exciting and creates a clear winner, while a challenging team coming up will still have a chance. The way it is now does not support that.

I have other suspicions why Ham-Tor play each other 4x. (Its mostly $, no surprise) but schedule-wise this is a poor move. I think earning your 4 game mini series feels better than just having a random one drawn up. Eventually you'll see lack of interest when 'hey well it doesn't matter if I don't go to this game vs a team that's not our level because there will be 3 more games guaranteed not including playoffs.'

That's just a feel bad moment for sure.
Just a criticism I have for this.

On the positive side, I do like the way they have spaced out the bye weeks in theory. I do remember the moanings about Toronto playing 3x within 2 weeks was always mentioned year after year. Also that one year Ottawa had to do it, and people lost their minds. So this doesn't seem to be as problematic, which is a positive.

Hamilton also consistently plays away games vs Winnipeg in Week 1. I don't know the stadium availability. It could be MLS or something else schedule-wise, but it seems like a trend for sure.

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Balance? How come Saskatchewan doesn’t visit the GTA, they replay Toronto on east coast (replay from last year) and dont visit Hamilton at all !, why?

Mostly it’s because the eastern teams don’t enjoy having western teams play them. This usually has two results 1. The Eastern team loses because Western teams completely dominate them, and 2. The attendance for conference games is lower than divisional games. Less people coming into the stadium and spending their money is a bad thing.

If people want the CFL to change they are going to have to make sure they show up to conference games.

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