Should The CFL Become NFLjr?

Speaking of Toth, I don’t think he would take too kindly to this but here goes anyway. A friend of mine and I had a chat today about the state of the CFL and this market, Toronto. John Shannon on PTS took a strip out of the Argo’s coach Bart Andrus for how he handled the Bruce situation. Shannon called him something like the American College coach coming up here and putting his stamp on things… So my friend said in response that no respectable division one football coach, coordinator or assistant coach would leave that post to take a head cfl coaching gig. My response was that I thought (and I am rather clueless on these issues) that I think it would really depend on the market in the CFL. In my opinion, a guy would rather be the head coach of the Toronto Argos or the Hamilton Tiger Cats simply because of their geography and their market size. This is not a knock on Saskatchewan or Winnipeg, but I would think that it would be harder to attract that type of coach there for the typical stereotypical reasons.

My friend who is much more up on the college football scene than I, said that in his opinion it would be virtually impossible to lure a division one football coach to a head coaching gig to the CFL. Why do I raise this? Well it lead to a different type of discussion and one I want to turn to you. I said that, should an NFL team ever come to Toronto (and no this debate isn’t about that happening!) the whomever were to own that team would take on the Argos and that the CFL should become a legitimate feeder league for the NFL. I called it the IHL (or AHL) of professional football. I think this would be a great thing for the CFL. My friend rightly pointed out that the only way that would work was if the league maintained Canadian rules/content. I have no problem with that and agree.

What I am asking is this, if the CFL was the official minor league of the NFL would you watch more games, would you take more interest? I think I would. I think that the NFL teams would ensure that all facets of the game were top notch. This isn’t a knock on how the CFL does things. I just think that if it got the endorsement, the affiliation people would pay a hell of a lot more attention to it. I was reminded again today about how knowledgeable baseball fans are of their teams. I saw a couple of fan boards and chats debating the merits of trading minor league prospects I have never heard of. There was passion about current minor leaguers. If the Dallas Cowboys were affiliated with one of the Roughriders (sorry couldn’t help myself) I think that the interest in that team would be significantly higher as fans across North America would want to keep tabs on how their farm players were doing. I also don’t think it’s a bad thing to be a minor or developmental league. I don’t think it’s a slap in the face to the CFL. I think players would make more money, interest would be higher on television, coaching would be better, it would be a win win.

I am sure there are tons of things that I am not thinking about. I know there are logistical issues, unequal amounts of teams, how would it work etc. Maybe that is how the league expands, on the backs of the NFL. I don’t know maybe I am nuts, I am sure this is insulting as all hell to loyal CFLers. I just think it would generate a lot more interest.Maybe not in Toronto, the “event” city as one loyal reader once wrote about our fans. I think it would help grow the game.


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August 1, 2009 12:42 am

In addition to Canadian content, other issues include: ball, size of field, # of players on the field, # of dows etc…..CFL fans would go ape shit if the game changed to accomodate the NFL. Also, there are likely 50+ cities/towns in the US that could support a feeder system. Perhaps a few canadian cities would be considered.

August 1, 2009 9:05 pm

not to side with the probable response from Toth, but i just don’t see this being a good idea for a number of reasons.

the NFL already has a development league, and it’s a free one at that with the NCAA. i doubt they would want to dump money into another league – especially so soon after the money pit that was NFL Europe. if they want to make things top notch, the league is going to have to foot the bill, which means they would pay for everything from the players to the refs to the production to the marketing. from a U.S. marketability standpoint, what good would it serve teams in America to have a handful of fringe practice squad players playing with Canadians in cities their fans have never heard of? you think Cowboys fans would give two bits about a team in Regina? also, with 32 NFL teams (for now) and 8 CFL teams (for now), would four NFL teams contribute to one CFL roster with a sprinkling of Canadians to boot? wouldn’t that further dilute the idea that this CFL team is affiliated to this NFL team? or do you ensure the 1 NFL team affiliation per CFL team and make the 8 CFL teams part of a larger development league that includes 24 U.S. cities? high travel costs would be the starting point of difficulties here.

as per the players getting paid more, the players on the practice squad of an NFL team make about the same amount of money as a CFL player. why would a team pay more for players who were beneath them in another league? why would teams want an extra layer of costs that they don’t need? small market or revenue-challenged NFL teams would hate this, and the uproar would make the labour talks seem serene. given that no one cares about practice squad players already, and these players already have little marketability and value, if any.

the nfl already has an entire summer of practices, both voluntary and mandatory, so the question would be when would you schedule this league? would they run simultaneous – i.e. both start on the labour day weekend? what would this mean for the grey cup? would it be played on the same weekend as the super bowl? the first week of february, outdoors in edmonton? or do you just have the grey cup played at the super bowl site, such as in Tampa?

it doesn’t really make sense for a minor league to have completely different rules than its affiliated major league. you can play around with the little stuff to test out rules (e.g. AHL), but you can’t have fundamental differences like field size, number of players, downs, and multiple other rules. the CFL is different than the NFL. the only option, if you were going to go down this route, is to change everything. so, in effect, the CFL would be dead.

killing the CFL is unlikely to increase interest in the league. CFL tv ratings are routinely in the 400K to 500K viewership. the anecdotal evidence of a couple of message boards (e.g. nerds in basements) getting excited about minor leaguers does not likely translate to broad interest amongst Canadians. i cannot see attendance really going up with minor leaguers playing football with a couple of Canadians on each roster. i mean, when was the last time anyone tuned into or showed up for a NBADL game? those are hardly the “events” that draw in Boise let alone downtown Toronto.

as per division one u.s. college coaches not wanting to come to canada, the reason is obvious – money. Nick Saban is pulling down $4 million. i remember Turner Gill was making $180K a year to coach Buffalo and he was one of the lowest paid coaches in division one before getting a raise to $260K. isn’t that in line with what CFL coaches already get paid? isn’t the highest salary in the CFL at most $750K? the ceiling is much higher in the NCAA. aside from the high profile ones, NFL assistant coaches make on average $500K per season. i don’t think the head coach of a minor league team would make any more than that. accordingly, i don’t see these positions paying any more or the coaching getting any better. (of course, if you want better coaching in the CFL, maybe the league should expand beyond the 8 coaches who rotate around the league.) add in the need to coach a different game and division one coaches’ middling coaching success at higher levels, and I don’t see any division one coach coming north of the border, regardless of the size of the market they would coach in.

J. C. Jorgensen
J. C. Jorgensen
August 26, 2009 1:02 pm

The CFL is a league that stands on its own. There are plently of Division 1A and NFL coaches now coaching in the CFL (do you homework). But why get a coach from the NCAA with guys like Marcel Bellefuille around? Who’s that? Do you homework! Its time for Torontonians to stop dreaming that they are actually Americans and start supporting the Argos. The NFL is overhyped. How many 7-6 games (Pats-Bengals) do you really want to watch?

July 27, 2010 4:14 pm

The origin of North American football is in Montreal Canada. I believe in 1862. The CFL is older; the Grey Cup will be one hundred year hold in 2012. CFL is a much exiting game than the NFL to watch. The CFL is the only true major Canadian professional sport.

March 27, 2011 9:10 pm

The NFL in Toronto a fiasco

So far there are 2 preseason games, and 3 regular season NFL games in Toronto. None of these games where full houses (less than 54,000). Worse, very few paid they tickets at full price. Tens of thousands where reduced tickets. Tens of thousands more, where free tickets. And still, not one full house in 5 games!

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