CBC's Elliotte Friedman hit the proverbial nail on the head last night in summing up the day's football action.
"After a rough season, the Canadian Football League needed this," Friedman said after a day that provided something that's been in short supply this season: exciting games. With a year dominated by crummy football, it's not hard to see why TV ratings were down.
Inspired by two thrilling semifinals, and the likes of Toronto and Vancouver in the division finals next Sunday, big audiences are assured. So this is a perfect time to make a few suggestions on how CBC can improve its coverage.
That's not to say the people's network didn't do a great job yesterday, because it did. Both analysts Darren Flutie and Chris Walby were sharp and announcers Mark Lee and Steve Armitage had good days. But it all could be better.
That field goal graphic that shows kicking accuracy from various distances is great. Why was it used only once yesterday?
Get more work for Flutie. He does a great job analyzing the game, even if he can't pronounce some names properly: Malbrough was Marlborough and Steinauer was Steinhower.
Encourage Walby to leave the comedy act at home. When he concentrates on the game instead of trying to be a cross between John Madden and Don Cherry, he's pretty good. Yesterday, for example, he pointed out that Saskatchewan's focus on containing Henry Burris gave the Calgary quarterback too much time to find receivers.
Use the on-screen clock more often, especially in the last three minutes. You'd think CBC is renting the thing and trying to save money.
Focus on the big stories. During the East semifinal, little was made of the fact that Argo receiver Arland Bruce was not being used enough. And there was no mention at all of Gainer the Gopher in the West game.
Do all playoff games in high definition. These are big events and deserve it.
Encourage studio analyst Sean Millington to take a remedial English course. Millington makes the strongest statements on the CBC panel, but too often makes unintelligible ones. Yesterday, he referred to Toronto as "the largest per capita area in Canada."
The HD product is visually stunning, but the sound is minor league. Sound on NFL games makes you feel like you're on the sidelines. With CBC, you feel like you're in the parking lot.
Make sure those sponsored features, like the game notes, are saved for dead time. Argo Noel Prefontaine's crucial 20-yard punt late in the game was all but ignored because the game notes took precedence.
Remind Lee that not every play is the most important in the history of football.
Also, inform Lee and Walby that microphones reduce the need to shout.
Swallow your pride and bring back Don Wittman. He's still the best football announcer in this country.
Make sure the sideline reporters always wish their interview subjects good luck. It's so reassuringly Canadian.