Some input about playoff format

Guys and gals,

I'd like to express my opinion about the current playoff format. I've always been unhappy with the one game Western and Eastern Final format. I'll explain why but first let me say that it was great to see the Argos get into the Grey Cup and of course it was good to see Calgary but did we truly the best teams in the Grey Cup? Yes, of course we did. Given the current format these teams deserved to get in and yes they were the best last week but I've never been comfortable with the one game sudden death approach.

I remember when it was the best two out of three in the west to settle once and for all which team should advance to the Grey Cup.

Much has been said about how the Lions imploded and for some, the Lions didn't even show up and so on. I'll be the first to say that Calgary easily out played the Lions but in a game as important as the Grey Cup I would have liked to see the Lions and Calgary meet up again and even a 3rd time if necessary. If Calgary beat the Lions again then it is settled. The Stamps would truly be the more worthy team. If the 2 out of 3 game series ended in a tie then this would heighten anticipation for a final game showdown. The same goes for the Eastern Final. Montreal was beaten by a team that was only .500. I'm not suggesting that the Argos were not fully deserving of advancing or that the win was a fluke but I do feel that I would like to have seen the Als have one more crack at it. This is why I think the best 2 out of 3 format has the potential of eliminating what we saw between the Lions and the Stamps and to an extent what we saw between the Argos and the Als.

Now, I know some might be thinking, a game is a game and both teams are expected to be up for it. Winner takes all. This is true but it does have its downside as I've explained. I also believe that a 2 out of 3 game playoff format adds even more credibility to who is battling for the Grey Cup. It is entirely possible that the Stamps and Argos would have been in the GC regardless. It is also possible that I'm skeptical that the best teams in the CFL were actually in the Grey Cup. No offence to the Argo or Stamp fans.

I used to love watching the best 2 out of 3 Western Final years ago and to see the teams duke it out to see who truly should represent the West in the Grey Cup. I was not particularly impressed with the 2 game points total format in the East for obvious reasons. If a team blew the other team out say 45-6, it meant that the losing team was starting the second game already down by 39 points. An almost insurmountable lead to overcome.

I would really like to see the CFL organization give serious consideration to bringing back the original best of three format. It's true that in those days teams were only playing 16 games while today they play 18. I don't see this as a problem. You simply start the season a few weeks earlier. The argument has been made that there is the risk of teams getting beat up more in a best of three series format. To an extent this may be true but it did not seem to pose a problem when it used to be that way.

Concern as to whether or not poor officiating might play a deciding role in which team advanced the Grey Cup would likely be less of a concern. Most importantly football fans would get to see more football.

I'm just thinking out loud guys. Does anyone know why the best out of three format was abandoned in the first place. I'd really like to see a return to it.

I like it the way it is now.

This way it is more exciting because you only get one chance. Not to mention this way upsets are more likely, how many Grey Cups would Montreal have won in the last 10 years? It would be boring to see one team win 8 Cups in 10 years

you want games to be played in december???

Why would the division finals be a series, but the big prize (the Grey Cup) still only be one game? That would be pretty odd.

In the East it used to be a two-game total point series. There were some pretty wild finals under that format, although at the end of the day it was still a question of which team outscored the other one; the "game" lasted 120 minutes and was played in two venues with a six-day halftime.

The problem in those days was that East and West were different. In 1960 the Eskimos played 4 or 5 playoff games in two weeks (wasn't it a two-game total point semi-final?) to get to the Grey Cup; Ottawa only played a couple, and cruised to a Cup win because the Eskies were exhausted.

Obviously the Grey Cup itself has to stay as a single game. Football has only an 18-game season where a lot rides on every game, unlike sports where you have 80 or 120 games. Showing up on the day is one of the marks of a champion, so as much fun as those old systems could be, I think it's best to leave it as it is.

The season could not start earlier FYB? Put your thinking cap on.

Thanks GoRiders. Upsets yes but I would not call the Calgary win a week or so ago agalnst the Lions an upset. For me it wpuld have been interesting to see if Calgary could have done it again the following week, especially given their performance in the Grey Cup.

That is my point. The same thing in the Eastern Final. Montreal almost pulled it off at the end. I'm wondering what would have happened had the Als and Toronto met again. Had Toronto won a second time in a row then no contest. Toronto would have indeed been the best representative. As far the Als getting in repeatedly, yes, to some it might be boring but certainly not to the Als fans.

I figured someone would bring that up Tridus and it is a valid point. My point simply was to suggest a way of providing a little more excitement and entertainment for the fans and to assure that the very best teams are in the Grey Cup. In Hockey the Stanley Cup is the best of 7. In baseball the World Series is the best of 7. Why not just one game? I don't know. Not sure what it's like for the World Cup, I'm not a fan.

I know both teams are expected to bring their A game to the playoffs. I just think the playoff format can still be improved.


Just a follow-up to your comment about upsets. Yes, they're exciting, especially when the underdog comes out on top. Unfortunately such upsets can set the stage for a very boring lopsided championship game the next week. A best of three series might avoid this possibility. I has happened.

Valid points ploen_truth. As I mentioned I did not like the 2 game total points format for the reason I gave. Best of three could be played in the east as well.

Other than fans saying, " I like the it the way it is" which is okay I suppose, I'd like to hear some reasons why we could not have a best of three series for the Finals. FYB implied that the teams would be playing in December. I said this could be dealt with by starting the season earlier. Injuries could be a consideration but let's remember that the regular season schedule was bumped up to 18 games from 16. For some players it was bumped up to 18 from 17 games because the CFL used to play an All-Star game.

I’d like to see some performance benchmark determine the format.

Its always a little sketchy to see losing teams within a win or two of qualifying for the national championship. So how about this:

If the 3rd seed in a division’s playoffs is .500 or better, we keep the current format.

If the 3rd seed is under .500, we go to a two game aggregate (total-point) series between the top two seeds with the first place team hosting the latter game.

Now I know its still possible albeit rare to have a 2nd place team finish below .500. I guess we still have to accept that. But this idea might give us the same playoff content (4 playoff games + the Grey Cup) without the sub-par teams. So you could have anywhere from 4 to 6 teams qualifying for the playoffs depending on the distribution of wins.

The downside of course is that it would disqualify more teams earlier in the season making late regular season games less relevant.

why why why must there always be someone who just can't enjoy things?

it is not a good idea, players would never in a million years go for it.

the teams wouldn't do it either.

cut. it. out.

I enjoy things... Its fun to brainstorm though

I think best-of-three would be cool, but only if Grey Cup was also best-of-three, and that is not even remotely possible. They don't have best-of-seven in hockey semis and then go down to a shorter format for the final.

If you don’t like the topic, don’t read it. Just move on. No one will mind. To say players would never go for it in a million years is baseless. When did you poll the players? I’m sure many Lions and Als players would have loved to have another go at the Stamps and Argos had they been given the chance.
Try to add something constructive like joedavtav did. This is a discussion, not a debate.

I agree, I cannot see the Grey Cup becoming a best of three and I'm not sure I'd want to see it. I know that teams can come up flat in the Championship game but so be it. When it comes to the Finals though I see an opportunity to assure that the very best get into the Grey Cup. Again, I'm not suggesting that Calgary and the Argos would not have made it in had it been a best of three but if anything it would have silenced those who felt the Lions and the Als were still the better teams who should rightfully have gotten in.

I think for the times the 3 game series or 2 game total points were a good format for the era. This is just the way football has evolved. A long 18 game season or even a 16 game season is a lot. to have teams playing a 4 or 5 playoff games is just not physically possible for the health of the players.
The problems that teams have when they end up playing on short weeks has began to raise questions. During the playoffs everyone has a full week to prepare for the game and it is in that preperation is where the games are won.
Football is just so much different from other sports due to the physical demands that there are only so many games a team can play in a season.
Also from a fans perspective football is a one game playoff interest would e lost playing the same team 3 weeks in a row. A lot of fans may not be so enticed to watch the first game knowing that there will be at least one more the next week to see who moves forward

no, I dont think it would be good for the season to start earlier.

Some very good points cflsteve. Thanks. I particularly liked that last point about fans perhaps not being so interested in catching the first game of a best of three series. That would defeat the whole purpose wouldn't it? That makes a lot of sense. There may be some merit to the physical demands aspect although I'm not convinced. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that I'm not convinced it plays a factor.

I'd really like to know why the changed the playoff format and abandoned the best of three series. Was it so they could go to 18 games. I'll do some research and see when the teams went to 18 games and see if it coincided with abandoning the best of three series.

Why not FYB?