Winnipeg: East or West?

Watching them switch divisions is like being at centre court
watching a tennis ball travel back and forth over the net.

Maybe we should stop until the league expands to 10 teams.

Does anybody have any strong opinions on this?

Here is some food for thought from a player's perspective.

If Ottawa's In Again, Are We West Again?

Winnipeg Free Press Tue 30 Jan 2007
Section: Sports Byline: Doug Brown

THE news late last week from the Ottawa Citizen that Bill Palmer's group is seemingly only a board of governors' vote away from having the Ottawa Renegades reinstated for the 2008 season leaves five of us who have been with the Bombers since 2001 or earlier (Milt Stegall, Troy Westwood, Jamie Stoddard, Charles Roberts and myself) at the precipice of a unique accomplishment in the world of professional sport.

If the deal for the reinstatement of the Renegades goes down as expected and the CFL follows form, you can expect the head office to ask the Blue Bombers
to return to the Western Conference in 2008, just
like the last time Ottawa entered the league in 2002.

That would make the five of us the first players in the history of sport to have journeyed back and forth between two divisions four times in only eight seasons while on the same team.

Of course, it's not the greatest or most notable of records, but you take what you can get in the doldrums of the off-season.

It's easy to remember the last time we were in the Eastern division because it was 2001 and we compiled a 14-4 record en route to a Grey Cup appearance in Montreal. In 2002, we switched to the West, where we
spent the 2002, '03, '04 and '05 seasons before once again reverting to the East with the suspension of the Renegades in 2006.

In a league that would once again end up with nine teams in 2008, the reasons for the Blue Bombers to switch back to the West are not necessarily clear to me. Until a tenth team is added from either Atlantic Canada or somewhere in Quebec to balance the league, one division is sure to always be unbalanced and have five teams.

Where does it say that this always has to be the West?

The decision should be left up to the franchise and the players who signed with a team they thought was in the Eastern division, at least until a tenth team is added and the logic of geography takes precedence over any competitive advantage.

That competitive advantage has been considerable of late, as the Western division has been a dominant force in the CFL when it comes both to championships and competitions between the divisions. Is it a
coincidence that in the last two seasons in the East (2001 and 2006), the Bombers have a combined record of 23-13, but in our last two seasons in the West (2004 and 2005) we were 12-24?

Admittedly, these statistics are being spun as I see fit and the two Eastern years and teams are five seasons apart. Yet as a player, I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that the East is measurably softer than the West.

It's not that the Blue Bombers couldn't dominate the West like they have at times in the East, but why should we -- if we don't have to -- go out of our way to make things harder for ourselves?

It seems almost a league requirement that the worst team in the CFL reside in the East and hand out wins like candy at Halloween every eason. This may not seem like a big deal in an environment with only eight (or nine) teams, but when you play one or two extra games a year against a team like Ottawa or Hamilton, those one or two wins can be the difference between a playoff game at home or on the road.

There are those in CFL circles and the fan base who are convinced that we are, in essence and positioning, a western province. Yet every time I look at a map of Manitoba, and specifically Winnipeg, it appears to me that we are about as central to North America and Canada as you can get, and there is no central division in the CFL.

Furthermore, jumping back and forth from division to division is something of a pain, not only to a franchise but to its roster. It wreaks havoc on sales, marketing, rivalry formulations, and possibly even the player composition of a team, as teams can be designed to predominantly exploit matchups within a conference.

Lyle Bauer, president and CEO of the football club, remarked that while "it is a bit premature to have that discussion, history has shown that the Bombers support the CFL, and have on many occasions. If the situation manifests itself, then I'm sure a conversation will be held. However, everyone needs to recognize that there are costs to a franchise bouncing from division to division."

Costs which the last time around amounted to some $700,000 from the other teams in the CFL to cover these inconveniences and strategic disadvantages.

Which is one more reason why, should the Renegades re-enter the fray in 2008, the CFL should consider letting the Blue Bombers and its players decide where we want to play the majority of our games.

Doug Brown, always a hard-hitting defensive lineman and frequently a hard-hitting columnist, appears Tuesdays in the Free Press.

I've always thought of Winnipeg as a Western city, but it really doesn't matter to me either way. Their big rival is the Saskatchewan Roughriders, just another reason I think they are a Western team.

Even if the league wants to change to one division maybe that's the best way to go until we get a 10th team which would clear things up. One division and let the top 6 teams inot the playoffs I think is an idea the league should seriously look into. Do we really need lopsided divisions all the time?

Personally, I dislike the idea of Winnipeg becomming a permanent eastern team. I really feel that they belong in the west, just as a matter of tradition.

Indeed, it would be nice to get the Renegades back on line in 2008 as an eastern representative and then perhaps, a year or two later add another eastern team in the form of Halifax, Quebec City or London, Ontario, thus creating a 10 team league and, just as importantly, a balanced schedule.

Maybe it's just me, but any city west of Thunder Bay is part of Western Canada and for football, anyway, I like this separation.

I think Doug Brown is looking for Winnipeg to get more acclaim by being in more Grey Cup Games.

I think his arguement is weak.

I agree with Rocky on this one!

Let's hope this is the last time we have to have Winnipeg in the East.

Let's hope they do revive the Ottawa franchise and find another team to make this a full 10 team league.

What I would really like to see is a 12 team league (6 in both East and West) with only the top 3 in each division playing off for the Grey Cup. :thup:

Maybe if Ottawa comes back and we get a team out east the Boatmen can go way out west. :cowboy: :rockin:

The basis of his argument (nicely outlined in blue) is that Winnipeg will be more likely to go to the Big Show if they're in the East.

Whaa!!!

the bombers should STAY in the east until Halifax come in the league.

once ottawa comes back, one division will have 1 more team than the other division..so why does the west always have to have the extra team?

leaving winnipeg in the east saves the possible headache of moving them if ottawa fails again.

winnipeg can stay in the east until halifax gets in the league and evens divisions at 5 a piece.

until halifax gets a team, why move winnipeg to the west and have 5 very solid teams compete for 3 playoff spots in the west, while only 2 good teams compete for 3 spots in the east??...or even assuming hamilton will become good in the next year or two, ottawa wont be, so u have 3 teams and 3 playoff spots, so the reg.season means nothing in the east. atleast with a competitive bomber team in the eastern mix, theres urgency for the eastern teams cuz one of the 4 good teams wont make it.

keep winnipeg in the east, because once ottawa comes back, it will be an expansion team and the east will be weaker, so keep winnipeg in the east to strengthen out the entire league by having two balanced conferences

Rename the divisions!

Ralph Sazio division
Harold Ballard division

East-West controversy solved.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

i wouldnt mind the CFL shuffling the divisions around and mixing teams like how the nfl has afc and nfc, you could have:

Jackie Parker division
Montreal
BC
Toronto
Calgary

George Reed Division
Regina
Winnipeg
Hamilton
Ottawa
Edmonton

worst idea ever!

The reason simply has to do with tradition. Unfortunately, with all the shuffling that tradition is now hash.

When the CFL was formed, it was the merger of the 4 team IRFU in the East and the 5 team WIFU in the west.

LMAO

I'm trying to imagine a scenario where Braley and Wettenhall would squeal with delight about the increased travel expenses with this idea.

If you think the CFL's schedule making is moronic now, wait until that got implemented...

Taking the Argos out of the same division as their historic rival (the Cats) is absurd. As is separating the Esks and Stamps.

How would the scheduling have any logic if the unbalanced schedule (read a nine-team league with 10 division games and 8 extra-divisional games) works in that scenario? Where does the money come from to pay for the extra travel for Edmonton, for example, if they have to give up one Stampeder home date (i.e. a 35,000-strong gate on a bad night) to traipse for an extra trip or two to Ontario under this scheme?

If the geographical basis is not the core logic to a two-division setup, then the divisions should be scrapped, which for me is a poor alternative to the current East-West format.

The NFL has the economy of scale and TV revenues to run their operation that way, which was largely because of the AFL-NFL merger and the desire to maintain those conference rivalries in the united NFL. The CFL doesn't. Case closed.

Oski Wee Wee,

if the cfl is complaining about travel expenses, then they better cancel the league, last time i checked in the CIS have to fly planes, AAU high school teams travel more than the cfl and they dont complain, even those trailer park junior hockey teams travel more often by plane and spend more than the cfl, football is a once per week sport, it doesnt cost much to fly across the country , have a one-night hotel stay, and bolt right after the game, with all the money tsn is spending on the cfl these teams shouldn't complain, plus the cfl doesnt spend money on drug testing so i dont see where all this "WOE IS ME" attitude is coming from.

if the cfl is complaining about travel expenses, then they better cancel the league, last time i checked in the CIS have to fly planes, AAU high school teams travel more than the cfl and they dont complain, even those trailer park junior hockey teams travel more often by plane and spend more than the cfl, football is a once per week sport, it doesnt cost much to fly across the country , have a one-night hotel stay, and bolt right after the game, with all the money tsn is spending on the cfl these teams shouldn't complain, plus the cfl doesnt spend money on drug testing so i dont see where all this "WOE IS ME" attitude is coming from.
It "comes from" being the most conservatively-run organization arguably in organized North American pro sports (although the NHL historically could make that claim).

They don't particularly have to say "woe is me" to anyone since IT'S THEIR JOINT(the BOG's) , do they? In fact, their capacity to ignore online fan forums as the font for ideas about their bottom-line concerns is fairly well-established, no? :smiley: :smiley: :smiley: :wink:

Whatever.

Ask Tom Wright about CFL constitutional politics and the power of the commissioner's position to enact ANYTHING
without the BOG's stamp on it.

There's no Rozelle or Tagliabue action here. Just fiefdoms with a super-majority needed in BOG votes to implement anything substantive.

You didn't answer my point re the Eskimos having to ditch a home date with the Stampeders under your wonderful proposal. That little related bit about the dreaded division rival for western football fans...the expansion Ottawa franchise... coming into town instead of Calgary and the resulting drop in the gate from 40,000-45,000 to a whopping 30,000 or so for that home date alone.

Uh huh.

That's a shortfall of what? $300,000? $400,000? Hamilton, for that matter, can't be expected to draw anywhere near a Stamps home date's paid gate to compensate, even with a Jason Maas nostalgia fest in Commonwealth.

That's the real world.

Unless one wants to hold the can for Braley, Wettenhall, Young et al. to raise the additional bucks for some idea that sounds like a really bad Madden custom franchise moment, t'aint going to happen.

Oski Wee Wee,