Ratio Question - Not a Discussion

So ... I understand "the ratio" as far as it applies to the 46 and 42 and 55 man rosters.

But where I have a problem in understanding and clarity is with the 7 non-import starters rule.

So ... Allow me to ask the following questions ... Hopefully someone can answer and explain it to me. I've emailed the TiCats, the league, TSN ... And no one has responded with an appropriate answer.

You have to have 7 NI starters. So lets say you decide to start 5 NI's on offense and 2 on D ... Does that mean you have to adhere to that all game? If an injury comes up or you just want to change that ratio ... Ie going from 5 & 2 between O & D ... Can you just change to 6 & 1 or 4 & 3? Can you do it? Who do you tell? When an you do it? Mid series?

As far as the 7 NI Starters ... Is it to start the game? Each half? Each quarter? Each series?

How is it observed/managed? Again, lets say that the starting NI ratio is 5 on offense & 2 on D ... Does that mean that every substitution has to adhere to that 5 of 12 ratio and 2 of 12 ratio? I know the side judge manages the DI's ... But who watches the starting ratio ... And nice again ... How is that starter ratio manage I'm a two sided, fluid dynamic?

What's the penalty for a ratio violation? Has anyone ever seen in called? Seems like it should be a forfeiture.

Anyways ... Any help is greatly appreciated. Like I said, I've asked many people the same question and not only can they not answer it, they become greatly frustrated and ultimately frustrated that I asked such a question and have now given them something to dwell, focus, fixate and obsess and lose sleep over!!!

From the rule book:

Article 6 – Designated Import

If a team is using its full complement of import players, it shall, prior to the game,
designate three import players as special teams players, who shall be permitted to
enter the game at another position, only on the understanding that another import
player is required to leave the game for that play. Such player may enter the game
on an unrestricted basis, only if another import player is removed for the balance of
the game.
If a designated import participates in the game illegally:
PENALTY: L25 PLS DR or L25 PBD or option.

And from the CBA (thanks CatsFanInOttawa):

The designated imports shall only be allowed to participate on the special teams;
provided however, a designated import may be directly substituted to replace
another import Player provided the said import Player being replaced is on the
same side (offensive or defensive) that the designated import will be playing on
The designated import may replace any other import Player during the game on
either side of the ball on the understanding that the Player that he replaces may
not re-enter that game

Again, there is no rule stating you "must have 7 non-import starters".
As long as the 3 Designated Imports are tracked properly, following the bolded rules in the CBA above, there will always be a minimum of 7 non-imports between both sides of the ball (with 1 extremely rare possible exception) simply because only 16 imports can play on an unrestricted basis among the 23 non-QB positions.

The one exception that I think is allowed, since I don't know of any rule preventing it:
If one of your 16 "unrestricted" imports can play on both offence and defence, then you've got 17 positions occupied by imports and you only need 6 non-imports.
If someone can find a rule against this, I'll stand corrected.

The impact of this is that, in general, the numbers of non-imports playing on offence and on defence is fixed for the entire game. Start five NIs on offence, there have to be five NIs on offence the whole game.

Sort of. As JFL says, there are exceptions. For example, if a team starts eight NIs, one of those NIs can be replaced at any time by an undesignated import. The DIs still need to have an import come out when they go in, even if there's an extra NI on the field. Weird, but that's how the rules are written.

That's how I read the rules as well.

Does "directly substituted" (from the text in the CBA) necessarily mean that the "unrestricted" import has to come out at the same time the DI comes in?

For example, say Onrea Jones gets a bit dinged on the opening kickoff. Rather than replace him with an import on the first play, the Cats choose to run a play with a fullback, so Delahunt comes on in place of Jones, with no other changes to the opening lineup. So now you're "starting" 6 NI (3 linemen, Fantuz, Giguere & Delahunt). If on the 2nd play they want to run 2 import running backs could they not bring in Gable as a DI, and when he checks in he tells the ref "I'm in for 89".
Since 89 (Jones) is still out, is that not okay?

I suppose they might force the "direct substitution" to be done on the same play to make the official's job easier, where he can actually see the import leaving the game.

your interpretation is correct. It doesn't matter when the DI comes into the game as long as the player he is coming in for does not play after the incoming DI enters the game to replace is position (offense or defense).

In your example Jones could get hurt on the opening kickoff and gable comes into the game in the second quarter (on offense, he can play any time on special teams) and once gable comes in on offense Jones can no longer enter the game. The announcement does not have to be immediate as to replacement.

Actually I wasn't talking about replacing him for the entire game.
I was wondering if Gable could replace Jones 2 plays after he went out, rather than on the immediate play. Maybe Jones comes back on the next series and Gable goes out.

Maybe a better example would have been, on the opening play of a series, you can bring a DI on in place of another import. He wouldn't necessarily be a "direct substitution" from the previous play, because that was most likely a special teams play. Then the other import could come back in on the second play.

Once a DI comes in to play on offense or defense the player he is replacing can no longer play the rest of that game.

My interpretation:

When a designated import enters the game, a starting / undesignated import from the same side of the ball (i.e. offence vs. defence) must be on the sidelines. I wouldn't think the player must actually physically leave the field on that play, as he may have already have come off on an earlier play. As long as one of the starters is off the field, that should be good enough. The starter can come back in on a subsequent play as long as a designated import (or another import, perhaps?) ends up back on the sidelines.

The restriction on the replaced player not being allowed to play again is where a designated import replaces a non-import and no starting import has come off. After the next turnover, one of the starting imports on the other side of the ball must be taken out, and that import player cannot play for the rest of the game. For example, suppose non-import FB Delahunt is injured at some point [knock wood]. The coaches decide to replace him with Gable (with Walker still in at RB - one of them would be the DI, doesn't really matter which). When the defence comes on the field next, the coach would then have to select a starting import on defence that would be pulled from the rest of the game, replacing him with a non-import.

Technically, teams could put all three DIs on the field for the last few seconds of the game without pulling any starting imports, knowing that they would never need to pull three imports from the other side of the ball because time would run out before that. Not likely, but you never know - anything to get that slight advantage over the other team.

Interestingly, while the rules state that the designated imports can enter the game without restriction on special team plays, they never actually define what a special team play is. We all know that this refers to kicking plays, but how exactly do the officials decide which plays are kicking plays, aside from kick-offs? Is it based on the way the offence lines up? Is it based on what down it is? If a team's 1st or 2nd QB is also the punter, and he lines up ten yards back of the line of scrimmage on second down, is that considered a ST play or not?

That's not true.
Like CFiO said, if a DI comes in on offence without replacing an offensive import, then a defensive import can no longer play the rest of the game. And vice versa.
But he can switch back and forth with any offensive import at any time and as many times as needed.

Must be a nightmare for the side judge to keep track of all that. Surprising that teams don't get caught trying to cheat on this set of rules. I've never seen a penalty called for this rule.

Holy hair splitting Batman. The rule is the player (whoever it is, whatever side of the ball it is on) that is replaced by a DI can no longer play for the rest of that game. He cannot go back in once replaced by a DI. Period.

I'm not splitting hairs. Your statement is completely wrong.
Imports get replaced by DI's on the same side of the ball all the time and go back in on the very next play. It's part of the normal substitution patterns in the game.

I think the refs actually monitor the number of non-imports on offence and defence. The three D.I. can substitute freely with another import...as long as there's still 2 N.I. players on defence and 5 N.I. on offence (or whatever split is predetermined) all is well. If the team wants to change the split of N.I. starters on offence and defence, the ref must be informed. Some have said I'm mistaken about this, but...?

If teams had 7 imports who started on both offence and defence (like in the old days) then the team could play with no N.I. starters, I believe. :expressionless:

Here is the main rule regarding designated imports:

When the Member Club dresses its full quota of import Players three shall be designated imports and designated as special team Players who may enter the game at another position only upon the understanding that another import Player is required to leave the game [b]for that play[/b].
Note the last three words that I have highlighted. When the DI leaves the game (i.e. goes back to the bench), the import player who was replaced for that play came come back in. And this can happen as many times as the coach wants.

The rule that prevents a replaced import from entering the game again is here:

The designated imports shall only be allowed to participate on the special teams; provided however, a designated import may be directly substituted to replace another import Player provided the said import Player being replaced is on the same side (offensive or defensive) that the designated import will be playing on. [b]The designated import may replace any other import Player during the game on either side of the ball on the understanding that the Player that he replaces may not re-enter that game.[/b]
It's this last sentence that talks about DIs replacing players on the other side of the ball. In that case, and only that case, the replaced player is ineligible to re-enter the game.

An actual regular game example which happened in BC last season in which a DI replacing a starting import and able to go in an out is when starting NI RB Andrew Harris and starting import SD Bruce III would come out on a double switch. DI Tim Brown would come into the game to play RB and would be joined by NI Paris Jackson to play SB for Bruce III. When Harris returned to the game so did Bruce III back in as the original starting import.
Another in Winnipeg. Starting RB Chad Simpson would tap out when he needed a breather and Will Ford the DI would come in for a bit. When Simpson caught his breath he was able to return to the game. This would happen several times during a game.
If I am wrong someone correct me as this is how I thought that it happened within the guidelines of the rules.