Realignment of League and Play-Offs


I have enjoyed the watching the Canadian Football League since 1976. In many ways, I enjoy it more than the NFL. Things such as 3 downs, time-out rules, wider field and faster games are the best in my opinion. What I have a problem with is the cut and dried set-up of the unbalance divisions and the bland play-off format.
This proposal changes all of that and makes the play-off concept way more exciting as well as making ALL games down-the-stretch VERY important. It will boost fan interest and television ratings would max out. Please give them an objective view.
First-of-all, the current nine teams would realign to three divisions with three teams in each one. The three divisions would be the East, Central and West Divisions and be set-up as follows:
Ottawa Hamilton Edmonton
Montreal Winnipeg Calgary
Toronto Saskatchewan British Columbia
Each team would play 18 regular season games, as it is now. Each team would play the other two teams in it’s Division 3 times each. They would play all the other teams in the League twice with each team having a home game. This would guarantee a true division winner and equal play against all the other teams for the entire League.
At the conclusion of the regular season, 6 teams would qualify for the play-offs; each Division winner would get a spot and the next 3 teams with the best records. The two Division winners with the best records do not play in the Semi-Finals.
If 2 of the remaining teams that qualify are in the same Division, they would play each other in the Semi-Finals. The 2 remaining teams would then play each other with the team with the better record hosting the game.
If all three teams in one Division need to play in the Semi-Finals, then the third-place team would play the Division winner. The other 2 play-off teams would play each other with the team with the better record hosting.
In the Finals, any two remaining teams in the same division would play each other. That would pit the remaining 2 teams against each other. The team with the best record would host in the Finals even if one of them is a Division winner and the other is not. The winners of these 2 games would play in the Grey Cup.
The following examples are at least 3 different scenarios that are possible with this concept:
Ottawa 13 5 Hamilton 12 8 Edmonton 9 9
Montreal 10 8 Winnipeg 11 7 Calgary 8 10
Toronto 7 11 Saskatchewan 5 13 British Columbia 6 12
The 3 Division winners, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Edmonton receive play-off spots. The other 3 teams, because of their records, get the remaining slots. Montreal, Winnipeg, and Calgary. Because Ottawa and Hamilton are the Divisional winners with the best records, they win the bye for the Semi-Final round. The Semi-Finals would be Calgary at Edmonton because they are in the same Division and Montreal at Winnipeg. If Winnipeg and Edmonton won the Semi-Finals, the Finals would look like this: Winnipeg at Hamilton because they are in the same Division and Edmonton would play at Ottawa. Home field would go to Ottawa because of their better record. The winners of these games would play in the Grey Cup.

Another play-off scenario would look like this:
Ottawa 14 4 Hamilton 11 7 Edmonton 10 8
Montreal 13 5 Winnipeg 7 11 Calgary 5 13
Toronto 12 6 Saskatchewan 5 13 British Columbia 4 14

In the case above, the three Divisional winners Ottawa, Hamilton, and Edmonton again, would be the Division winners. The other three teams that won play-off spots are Montreal, Toronto, and Winnipeg because of their records. The Semi-Final round would consist of Toronto at Montreal because they are in the same division and that would leave Winnipeg going to Edmonton. Ottawa and Hamilton get the byes.
If Winnipeg and Toronto won the Semi-Finals, then Toronto would play Ottawa each other in the Final because they are in the same Division. Winnipeg would play at Hamilton as they are also in the same Division. The winners of these games go on to play in the Grey Cup.
If Montreal and Edmonton won the Semis, Montreal would play at Ottawa because they are in the same Division and Edmonton would be at Hamilton because of the better record held by Hamilton. This just goes to show that no matter the records of the other Teams in the Division, the Division 1st place Team still has to keep winning because there is no guarantee they will play at home in the Finals.
There are many different outcomes and home field advantage situations from all these examples depending on which Teams win the Semi-Final round. This is a very interesting concept for the fans.
This is the last play-off situation that I am going to present (even though there are many variations that can occur within these 3 play-off scenarios):
Ottawa 12 6 Hamilton 11 7 Edmonton 13 5
Montreal 6 12 Winnipeg 10 8 Calgary 11 7
Toronto 5 13 Saskatchewan 7 11 British Columbia 4 14
Besides the 3 Division winners, Ottawa, Hamilton, and Edmonton; Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, and Calgary won play-off spots. Again, because they had the best records after the regular season, Ottawa and Edmonton do not play in the Semi-Finals. Saskatchewan plays at Hamilton because they are in the same Division (the first and third place Teams play each other in the Semi-Final Round). and Winnipeg goes to Calgary.
Let’s say that Saskatchewan and Winnipeg won their respective games. The Finals would have Saskatchewan at Winnipeg because they are in the same Division and Ottawa at Edmonton. Even though Winnipeg did not have a home game in the Semi-Finals, because their record is better than Saskatchewan’s, they host a Final. Another interesting note here is that Ottawa had the second best record in the entire League, but they do not get a home game and have to travel to Edmonton. These are the drivers for Teams to keep their best players on the field throughout the entire season and to keep winning. No slacking at the end of the season when you know you are going to win your Division. Now you are competing with every other Team in the League. The Team with the better record against it’s opponent in the play-offs will host the game even if they are playing against a Division winner. You never know how the play-off picture will look….all Teams must keep winning!
I think this is a great system that would generate a lot of fan interest.


I will make it simple...we do not need 3 divisions and play off format that requires rocket scientists to decipher. We just need to ensure the two best teams more often than not meat in the Grey Cup .... No matter if it end up being two west teams or two east teams.... THAT. Is already proven to be far simpler than this headache you think would work


Hello EZ. You forgot to mention that the league should build 9 domes to play in so that they can go head to head on Sundays with the NFL right through February.


Wouldn't it be easier to just go to a single division format with the top 6 teams straight to the playoffs.

Or the other format could be the one only used in 1986.

If 4 teams from your division enter the playoffs, you should have the tougher road to the Grey Cup.

The crossover is sort of a compromise between the 2 formats mentioned above.

I disagree and for two major reasons.

The first is that if only two teams from one division make it, and you only play one playoff game, you are losing buckets of money by playing one less playoff game, so the only remedy is a two-game total point series. The two-game series, essentially is just one exceedingly loooong game wherein the last 3 minutes of the first game become far less crucial than they could or should be. There would be scenarios where the team losing by 5 in the first game is totally okay with kicking a FG and losing by two instead of going for it to win the game. It's rather silly to play a game - and a playoff game for that matter - where it's really not important whether you win or lose but to just keep the score close. Nothing could be more MEH! if you ask me. The first game is largely meaningless unless there is a blowout (and blowouts are usually meh too unless you are a fan of the winning team). Two-game total point is just a very flawed format.

The second reason is that it's wholly unfair for a first place team to lose their bye simply due to the quality of the teams below them and nothing to do with their own play. That right there is a complete non-starter for me at least.

The x-over is a far superior option to this if you ask me.

The only drawback of the x-over is that the potential of two teams of the same division playing for the Cup irks some of us - not me personally, but I do understand those who feel that way.

I think the 1986 format did call for a 2 game series for the division with 2 teams in the playoff.

I do understand neither format mentioned above isn't perfect but ,then again, what is the perfect one.

  1. Pennant Races (Old Baseball format).

  2. WildCard round (Made famous by the NFL.

  3. Division format (Love those Symthe Division finals.

  4. Conference format.

  5. The best of the best format .

  6. Promoting and relegation.

Just wanted some thoughts on your favorite format.

1 Like

I wouldn't mind a relegation/promotion with the NHL. They'll never do it because of the guaranteed money that they get from TV deals etc.

Divisional playoff is better because of the travel aspect.


I mentioned a 3 division system as an option before but I disagree with idea of removing playoff games (no team would ever go for this)

If they did a 3 division system you get the 3 division winners into playoffs, then remaining teams are ranked 4 to 9 and top 3 wild cards make playoffs (4, 5, 6) while bottom 3 miss playoffs

It would be literally impossible for a division to send 3 teams to semi finals as OP posits
The entire reason for encouraging regional play (more home and home games) is to reduce travel expenses

Either way in all honesty we could do away with divisions since only 9 teams in league anyways and there usually is a chance for a cross over
Plus in a 1 division scenario you get top 6 teams make playoffs, 1 & 2 get byes, 6 @ 3 and 5 @ 4. The simply reseed if any upsets occur on the march to the Grey Cup

The odds of 2 West teams in finals remain about the same as they currently are under a cross over scenario

Pennant Races really are the "best" format. Because really the best team is over the season. MLB kept this for the longest time, but NHL and NFL both used to do this in the ancient days as well. The fans of the team who upset the #1 team hate Pennant Races but really (esp in CFL; they play 18 regular season games + 2 or 3 playoff games) our season is long; longer than what the NFL has (though they added a 17th game this season) especially considering how few teams we have in our league.

Wildcards are better than a straight Cross Over since at least the winningest teams qualify. But there is an issue with strength of schedule (most notable in NFL but a serious problem in modern NHL as well)
Conference formats (NHL) are same thing as Wildcards since its simply ranking teams, and disregarding who plays in a weak division

Division format - I also was a huge fan of the 80s NHL but in all honesty it was a horrible format. You often had second round matches (esp in Smythe) that were far better than the actual finals since teams knocked each other out. It made great tv ratings and encouraged rivalry but it was (insofar as fairness) an awful thing.
Smythe in the 70s was even worse (Adams also was even more worse worse)

Best of Best format???

Promoting and Relegation is an interesting concept but there simply are not enough teams / players for this to work. Plus it would increase instability of the weaker markets.

The best of best format was a single division with the top 6.

1 Like

If by pennant races you mean just 1 team from each division makes playoffs, then no, it is probably the worst way to do it as it renders so many regular season games meaningless as so many teams get eliminated and so much earlier in the season.

Think about it. In 2021 Winnipeg clinched the 'pennant' with 4 weeks to go. That would have rendered ALL western teams' games meaningless for the entire last month of the schedule. Bad idea.

Or having the top 2 in each division play a best 2 of 3 round and the winners play in the single game Grey Cup Final.

The format the CFL used from 1956 to 1972 had some elements of a 2 game or a 3 game series.

That seemed to be the norm at the time.

Best 2 out of 3 doesn't work as well in football. Imagine a scenario where one team dresses goons from the practice roster, then they intentionally hurt the other teams best players. Then after losing the first game they win the next two straight. While this might seem a little far fetched having a playoff series take 3 weeks isn't ideal in today's society when waiting for two and a half hours is pure agony.

The CFL isn't deep enough to have a goon squad.

Players will get tossed and coaches will be suspended banned.

Not likely to happen.

1 Like

I think that they should just draw names out of a hat randomly and whoever the six teams drawn are regardless of record they automatically make the play-offs.

Then to determine home field advantage you have the teams flip a coin . Best 4 out of 7 Heads or Tails gets to play at home .

After that to determine which two teams get first round byes you can have a Spelling Bee . The top two teams who spell the most words correctly get the coveted two first round bye spots .

Next to determine which teams will play each other the team that chooses closest to a number between 1 and 50 gets to choose their opponent in both rounds .

Just think of how exciting it would've been this year if for example using this method if both Edmonton and Ottawa got their name drawn and Hamilton and Winnipeg unfortunately didn't ? Just for fun we'll say that Saskatchewan was the third team not chosen .

The play-offs could've looked something like this last year...

6 random names drawn : Ottawa , Toronto , Montreal , Calgary , Edmonton , BC .

3 teams not drawn and eliminated from play-offs : Winnipeg , Hamilton , Saskatchewan .

Coin Toss to determine home field advantage : Ottawa , Edmonton , BC , Montreal

Spelling Bee : first round bye winners : Ottawa , Edmonton

Random number draw for choice of opponent : winner is Montreal who chooses Toronto .

1rst rd of play-offs : Calgary at BC / Toronto at Montreal

Random number pick from 1 -50 winner for choice of opponent 2nd round:

winner is Ottawa who chooses the winner of the Tor/Mtl as their opponent in the 2nd round.

2nd rd of play-offs : for fun let's say that both BC and Mtl won in the 1rst round .

The final four match-ups would be : B.C. at Edm and Mtl at Ott .

Grey Cup Final : Ottawa ( 3 -11 ) vs Edmonton ( 3-11 )

Now tell me how exciting that easy to follow format would be ?

Oh and don't forget to give a :+1: if you like and approve this new exciting play-off formula . :crazy_face:


Well bobo it makes about as much sense as EZ's suggestions in his numerous nonsense threads.

As in, none.


[quote="bobo82, post:15, topic:77056"]
...he Tor/Mtl as their opponent in the 2nd round.2nd rd of play-offs : for fun let's say that both BC and Mtl won in the 1rst round .The final four match-ups would be : B.C. at Edm and Mtl at Ott .Grey Cup Final : Ottawa ( 3 -11 ) vs Edmonton ( 3-11 )Now tell me how exciting that easy to follow format would be ?Oh and don't forget to give a if you like and approve this new exciting play-off formula .

Aaand overtime is settled with 10 rounds of

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock.

Official Rules

As Sheldon explains, "Scissors cuts paper, paper covers rock, rock crushes lizard, lizard poisons Spock, Spock smashes scissors, scissors decapitates lizard, lizard eats paper, paper disproves Spock, Spock vaporizes rock, and as it always has, rock crushes scissors."


I definitely think that method would work . I do have just one question for you though, which is this....If they would've used the "Rock , Paper , Lizard , Spocky " thingy in this years Grey Cup game , would the Bombers still have won ? :crazy_face:


Nope, unless of course you later find out Tim White is actually a lizard.......then Yup

Because the Bombers Defense Rocks

1 Like

I don't think that's possible because last time I looked , lizards don't have any knees .

It's too bad we didn't have Spock back there for that kick return because he could've according to the official rules just vaporized the Bomber defense .

1 Like