Monday, July 10, 2017
OUT OF THE TUNNEL
With Out of the Tunnel’s debut last week coinciding with the naming of former CFL lineman and respected businessman, Randy Ambrosie to the role of CFL Commissioner, we thought an open letter to the new CFL boss would be an appropriate start to the week.
Dear Commissioner Ambrosie,
Congratulations on being named Commissioner of the CFL. This is a daunting role that will feel like a no-win situation at times, but if done well and with a little longevity, it will put you in rarified air in Canadian football.
Being a good prairie fellow (though we will try not to hold being from Winnipeg against you), we at Out of the Tunnel know you would be open to a few suggestions to make an already great game even better. Some suggestions are for the super nerdy types, some are for the fans on the fringes, but all will help improve the CFL experience year-round.
Make the salaries public domain.
More than just the usual three-year, $200-thousand statement, but the WHOLE salary experience. Having seen a PDF of all the salaries in the CFL and their respective bonus structures, we know fans could have some fun breaking it down on their own.
Let's take Sam Hurl as our example. For his Week 2 game on July 1st at Mosaic Stadium, the Blue Bomber linebacker would receive his base salary cheque. On top of that, he would probably receive a small bonus for defensive plays ($500) and his interception ($250). Hurl may even have week-to-week bonuses for sacks, multiple tackles (more than five) and special teams tackles. All of this on top of his yearly bonuses (report to play at training camp, off season bonuses and so on) would be his total salary from January 1st to December 31st.
This would allow fans to follow along and debate how close teams are from breaking the 2017 salary cap of $5,150,000.
This also eliminates the foul taste of “CFL insider” stories and tweets regarding salaries and contract structures. Much of the insider tips come from either the agent looking to boost other comparable player salaries, or the GM’s looking for an edge in a competitive free-agent market.
Let CFL teams play game highlights on social media channels.
TSN’s current broadcast contract does not allow CFL teams to “broadcast” any highlights on their social media channels (Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) without written consent.
Despite this handcuffing, the social media teams in the CFL have done and continue to do a tremendous job promoting the league on those channels despite having limited access to a simple highlight or two.
Give TSN an exclusive 24-hour window from the end of a game and after that, allow the social media teams to do the dirty work.
This will help promote the teams, AND the TSN product. Fans could share the top highlights culled by the teams themselves, helping to improve fan engagement and in turn helping ratings to grow.
There is a generation of fans that could care less about watching the games on TV, but if you give them the best of the best each week on social media outlets, this game could see exponential growth.
Disclose teams' 45-player protected/negotiation lists.
Hamilton wowed the CFL world with their look behind the curtain at the negotiation list. It was fun … right!
Just think if every team did this. It would make a very long, boring off season a little more bearable. This is the easiest bang-for-your-buck change with the least amount of damage done to any CFL front office.
Quality Canadian players are gold in the CFL. You need depth at a few positions to survive the season.
What is also important is to have an American player stay with a team for an extended time and make that place their home. It’s beneficial across the board; fans connect with that player, which leads to more sales of jerseys and player branded merchandise and just a better overall experience in the community.
So if an American player spends six seasons with one team, he would be considered a "Canadian" and not count against the game ratio on that seventh season and beyond.
But once that player leaves for another team via free agency, gives the NFL a try or isn’t on a CFL roster for one full season, that number resets and he would be deemed an import player again.
The argument against this is taking jobs away from Canadian football players, but if an American makes a considerable commitment to that community, that commitment should be given in return.
A way to alleviate the previous argument would be to adjust the practice roster rules so that drafted players are protected for two seasons and cannot be poached off the practice roster by other teams. This will allow teams a better chance to develop said player.
Mr. Ambrosie, we understand the pressure you are under with bigger issues than this across the CFL, but please consider these suggestions to improve the fan experience and keep this league top of mind year-round.
A few notes from Week 3 in the CFL:
- There is no such thing as a “must-win” situation unless a loss means elimination, but Saturday night’s victory against the Hamilton Ti-Cats was a must-win game for the Riders. The heat the Green and White would felt during that week off would have been more stifling than the temperatures across the prairies. The next three games include a trip to Calgary, hosting an upstart Argos club and then off to Vancouver, so having a win in their back pocket to start that stretch will go a long way.
- There are not many in the CFL that would have predicted the incredible start the Toronto Argonaut offence would have to the season. They have the league’s top passer (Ricky Ray 1,199 yards) and two of the top ten receivers (S.J. Green and Armanti Edwards). Watching the Argos light up the Ottawa REDBLACKS defence for 25 second half points en route to their 26-25 win over the defending champs was something to behold. Under CFL offensive guru, Marc Trestman, this will more than likely continue throughout the season.
- On the flip-side, the Hamilton Ti-Cats have been shockingly abhorrent. Zach Collaros looks frustrated, they can’t/don’t run the ball, Speedy Banks hasn’t been able to get going and the defence has given up a combined 69 points and almost 1,000 yards opponents offence. The fall has been swift and brutal and let’s hope Kent Austin and crew can quickly improve because if not, it’s going to be a long season in Steeltown.
A Canadian to watch in the NCAA in 2017
Tyler Rutherford – RT
University of Connecticut
Hometown – Markham, Ont.
Class – Sr.
One of the top prospects for the upcoming 2018 CFL draft started seven games for the Huskies in 2016. Rutherford is penciled in as the starter at right tackle, week one against Holy Cross on August 31st. He was the second ranked Canadian prospect by Canadian Football Chat in the 2014 recruiting class.
What to do between games this week:
Head to Inside the Pylon (www.insidethepylon.com) and follow them on twitter @ITPylon. Even though this is super NFL and NCAA heavy, they analyze and breakdown every position on the field and in the front office. Many of the pieces they talk about can get a little heavy, but if you want to take your football viewing and evaluations to the next level, this would be a great first step.