No joke, CFL schedule takes turn for bizarre in 2015
The Toronto Argos will play their the 2015 season home opener against the Edmonton Eskimos in Fort McMurray, Alta. (QMI Agency file photo)
There were hints it was going to be wacky, and it is indeed just that.
The CFL schedule released its CFL schedule in an even wackier way Friday, asking the Twitter-verse to mention #CFLSchedule 10,000 times before it would be “unlocked.”
Perhaps this unique twist, which naturally drew criticism but at least had the hash tag trending nationally, was to drive attention away from the CFL’s atrocious 81-game slate this summer thanks to the Women’s World Cup, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Pan Am Games.
The Argonauts won’t play their first home game in Toronto until Aug. 8, which is only a few weeks shy of the middle of the season. Their “home opener” will be played 2,700 kilometres away from Rogers Centre in the oil town of Fort McMurray, Alta. The “visiting” team on June 27 will be the Edmonton Eskimos, who will have to travel only 400 kilometres north to play their first road game.
The Boatmen will play eight of their first 10 games on the road, although one of those eight is the “home game” in northern Alberta. Their last four games will be at home because baseball season is over by then. Heaven help the Argos if the Blue Jays make the playoffs.
The Tiger-Cats, meanwhile, will have to wait until Aug. 3 to play their first game at Tim Hortons Field, thanks to the Pan Am Games. They will play their first four games on the road, including tough contests against the Stampeders and Roughriders. The CFL schedule maker more than made it up to the Tabbies, however, as they will play eight of their next 10 at home.
There were rumblings on Twitter about the consecutive games at home and on the road affecting the league’s competitive balance, but a quick poll of CFL executives across the league indicated no such concern.
“Not good this year. Not what anyone wants, but we all understand,” one executive said. “Toronto has a stadium problem, and it’s harder for the Argos than any of us. So we all deal with it. When the Argos get a new place to play next year, everyone’s schedule will get a lot better immediately — not just theirs.
“They tell us BMO Field will be great for the Argos. I’m not a Toronto guy, but I trust the league’s judgment. Put that with new stadiums in Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, Ottawa and Hamilton — and B.C.’s stadium is as good as any of those — and the CFL will be in great shape.”
The Argos are still trying to work out a BMO Field lease agreement with Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment. The stumbling block is $10 million needed to help fund the next phase of the stadium’s renovations. The Argos have to be out of Rogers Centre by the end of 2017.
It’s crucial for the CFL, Argos owner David Braley and MLSE to get the stadium situation figured out this year, because future CFL schedules should not be as hideous as the one released Friday.
NOT OVER YET
Are you a CFL general manager who couldn’t land the big one Tuesday? Are you feeling like you missed out on all the free agency fun? Is your owner or CEO breathing down your neck, wanting you to make a splash?
Well, we have some good news for you: There are still some decent players on the shelves for you to purchase. Here are a few who could assume valuable roles on your team:
* LB Brian Peters, Saskatchewan – The weak-side linebacker had 78 tackles, 20 special teams tackles and two interceptions last season. Apparently waiting on an NFL shot.
* LB Rennie Curran, Edmonton – The Eskimos have said he’s not coming back, but a source Friday said Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and Ottawa want him.
* DT Moton Hopkins, Ottawa – He’s a dependable import tackle who has been dogged by injuries but is good enough that he got some NFL looks this off-season.
* QB Kevin Glenn, B.C. – The 14-year veteran, who would be a solid backup anywhere but Calgary, appears to be headed to either Montreal or Saskatchewan.
* SB Bakari Grant, Hamilton – The 27-year-old caught 127 passes over the last two seasons and had nearly 1,000 receiving yards in 2013.
* LB Johnny Sears, Winnipeg – He’s quite injury prone, but the Eastern Michigan product is a hard-hitting, versatile defender.
* SB Nik Lewis, Calgary – Is anyone going to take a chance on the 32-year-old?
The Roughriders re-signed quarterback Tino Sunseri Friday. He started four games in place of the injured Darian Durant last season, but the Riders are still pursuing free agent pivot Kevin Glenn as a backup ... The Roughriders released Canadian defensive end David Lee ... Shane Horton felt he didn’t fit into Tim Burke’s defence last season with the Argos, so he asked for his release before the end of the campaign. He reunited with his former defensive co-ordinator, Chris Jones, on Friday when he signed with the Eskimos ... Twenty-eight players whose contracts expired on Tuesday have signed new contracts, and 15 of them are Canadian.