10 things we learned this CFL season | Football | CBC Sports

CFL10 things we learned this CFL season

Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2013 | 03:24 PM

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Roughrider fans: Not so cute and cuddly anymore. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press) Roughrider fans: Not so cute and cuddly anymore. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

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Here are 10 things we've learned this year about the Canadian Football League.
Here are 10 things we've learned this year about the Canadian Football League:

1. Nobody's puppies anymore

Down at the local dog park there's always a tough little puppy scooting around after the big guys, and every so often it will get a bone or toy in its mouth and take off with the others chasing.

"Aw, look at that little guy, look at him go. Good for you, pup."

Then the chase would end and the big canines would go back to running things.

That was your 20th-century Saskatchewan Roughriders. Everybody's second-favourite team. Cute as a button.

Not anymore. I can't remember a time when more people outside of the Land of Flat (a "Have" province now, and take that, Ontario) have been so annoyed with everything to do with the Green and White.

There are still nice Rider fans around, of course, but also a growing number of arrogant twerps lurking on fan sites, hanging out at games, butting into bars and populating the bottom of this column.

The Grey Cup champs have their fair share of nasty players with big mouths, swagger and arrogance. They expect to win. They are shocked when they lose.

B.C. fans are mad at 'em. Calgary fans are mad at 'em. Winnipeg fans despise them (some things never change).
This is a terrific thing, as it means the Riders (four Grey Cup appearances in the 21st century and two wins) are considered part of the elite. A big dog. Finally alpha after 100 years of beta.

Nothing cute about these guys. Put your hand down to pat them and you might have it chewed off.

2. Sometimes you can judge a man by the clothes he wears

C'mon. What's the biggest thing you remember about the B.C. Lions this season?

Their offence? It was OK, but nothing special. Their defence? It was OK, but nothing special. Running back Andrew Harris? He was OK, but not special like Kory Sheets or Jon Cornish.

It was those black third uniforms. Sharp, shocking, cutting edge. Except you couldn't read the numbers from more than 50 feet away so they were ultimately frustrating.

Perfect metaphor for the Lions' season.

3. You want patient fans? Try Calgary

It's not just supporters of bad teams that get so annoyed they want to chew the little pom-pom off the toque of the person in front of them.

For example, since John Hufnagel took over as head coach of the Calgary Stampeders, the team has had six straight winning seasons, has finished with 10 victories once, 11 once, 12 once, 13 twice, and to cap it all had 14 in 2013.

That has turned up a Grey Cup win (2008), a Grey Cup loss, three exits in the West final and one in the West semifinal.

In relative terms, that's not a lot to show for a 73-34-1 regular-season mark.

And Stamps fans have been here before. During the heyday of the Wally Buono era in the 1990s, Calgary went 127-52-1, winning only two Cups -- it felt like there should have been more.  

Bombers fans would take that record, but Calgary is not Winnipeg. (Discuss).

4. If you have a quarterback, you have a chance

Ricky Ray ... Steven Jyles, Matt Nichols, Kerry Joseph, Jonathan Crompton ... Mike Reilly.

A journey the Edmonton Eskimos should never have taken. But the ending looks to be upbeat.

5. Nothing like a change of scenery for a clean start

Well they're moving on up (moving on up)
To the West side
To a cold water walk up down the side ...

There's excitement in Winnipeg as the Bombers move back to the West Division, where they've always belonged. That's really going to make the Banjo Bowl exciting now, boy.

One small point, however. Since trucking to the East in 2006, the Bombers are 18-47-1 vs. the big boys in the West. In the last four seasons, they're 6-28.

You never know, they could play up to the level of their opponents.

6. Champagne and caviar at Tim Hortons

Sent a half-serious note to the communications folks at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats a couple of weeks back asking them to please turn off the construction camera at new Tim Hortons Field so I can get some work done.

It's surprisingly addictive, watching the little figures scurry around as the stadium gets closer to throwing out its first canapé next July or so.

Old Ivor Wynne Stadium was a monument to Steeltown, The Hammer, blue-collar working people and their families clad in black and yellow and making a lot of noise.  

The Drive Through (Like it? Guess where I thought of it.) is designed for a new Hamilton, one based around education, health care, bio-science and other industry more familiar to folks in San Jose than on Main Street.

Steel and coke are slowly disappearing from The Hammer and you have to wonder just what the atmosphere is going to be at The Drive Through next summer, where they will be selling tapas and sushi along with the hot dogs (now being referred to as "gourmet sausages").

It's progress, I suppose, but when Ivor Wynne Stadium went down, it may have perfectly symbolized a way of life going with it.

7. A guide to MLSE talk

IMO: Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment still wants to add the Toronto Argonauts to its lineup of pro sports teams and move them to BMO Field.

BUT, Toronto FC soccer fans are deeply upset because they don't want gridiron football players messing up their turf when right now it's the only thing worth looking at there, given the team itself has stunk.

AND, they've loudly let MLSE know this.

SO, MLSE has stopped talking about renovating BMO Field and moving the Argos there and instead they've dumped the decision on multi-use into the lap of the city, which actually owns the structure.

AND, I think they are quietly nudging the city to do just that so they can say to TFC fans, "Hey, it wasn't our call to renovate the stadium for CFL football, it was the city's. Get mad at them."

SO then MLSE can buy the Argos and move them to BMO Field.

One man's opinion.

Oh, and the whole "Jon Bon Jovi wants to team with MLSE to bring the Buffalo Bills to Toronto" thing? Not in my lifetime.

Also one man's opinion. No apologies.

8. You only know what you've got when it's gone, part XXXVIII

Montreal quarterback Anthony Calvillo. We'll miss you, man. See you in the Hall.

9. Blow on your dice and roll 'em

Expansion draft day, Dec. 16, is going to be as much of a crapshoot as visiting your local casino when Le Rouge et Noir d'Ottawa go shopping for other team's leftovers.

Each pick made by Marcel Desjardins involves risk.

Will the draftee come to Ottawa or does it make more sense to stay home and take a real job? Is there something wrong with each player the Rouge et Noir don't know about (after all, they were left unprotected)? Have they been hiding a little injury from their old club? Do they pick their nose?

And that's not even counting if they can, you know, play football.

By the way, the CFL has decided you can't watch each pick as it comes in -- you'll be told the first eight when done, then the second eight, then the third.

Wouldn't want you to have any fun, or get excited or anything. Or take attention away from hockey when Le Rouge et Noir are trying to sell season tickets.

10. The peasants are restless

The collective bargaining agreement is up before 2014 kicks off, and while you can't imagine the players going on strike, you can see them skipping an exhibition game, or both, if they don't get more money.

Think of it this way. Currently the salary cap is $4.3 million, and if you take a 46-man roster and give each a $20,000 raise, that means another $920,000 per club (not counting practice roster and injury reserve). But the new TSN deal gives the league a reported $40 million a year.

So, there seems to be money and it should work out for everyone. Especially the rookie import everyones who can make around $50,000 and have to keep homes in two countries.

We'll see. Commissioner Cohon is already saying the league has to remain fiscally prudent even with the new TV deal, a statement meant for the players.

There's nothing that can make two agreeable sides disagree more quickly than a pile of money on the table in front of them.

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