There is good news this morning from the Canadian Football League. The players’ strike called for last weekend seems to have been settled; reports say that the league and the players’ union have reached an agreement that needs only to be ratified by the players themselves and by the CFL’s Board of Governors. This strike lasted a total of 4 days and only training camp schedules were affected. Things appear to be on track for the CFL to kick off its 2022 season on June 9th.
Regarding the issues involved in the negotiations leading to this tentative agreement, let me acknowledge that the information comes from email exchanges with Gregg Drinnan – the author/creator of the Taking Note blog which you can find here. My familiarity with the CFL can be described as neither wide nor deep. But here are some terms of the new deal:
- One issue was the end date for the new CBA – not only in terms of the length of the contract but the day on which it would expire. Previously, the CBAs expired the day before training camps were set to begin; players were either en route to training camp or already in the designated area for training camp and felt pressured to take a deal to get started. This CBA supposedly will expire a month before training camp is set to begin 7 years from now.
- The CFL games are telecast in Canada on The Sports Network (TSN); the existing contract for those broadcast rights ends in 5 years so there is an opt out clause in this deal pending the terms of a new deal – presumably with TSN. One note of explanation from Gregg Drinnan puts that in perspective:
“If you aren’t aware, the TSN contract is huge. Without it, there isn’t a CFL”
- There are provisions in the new deal for players to negotiate certain amounts of guarantees into their contracts. I do not understand the details here but the fact that there needed to be language in the new CBA about this issue indicates to me that there was not freedom to do so in the past.
Because the CFL has an odd number of teams – until the expansion Nova Scotia Schooners coalesce into a real entity – the league schedule is interesting. Teams play 18 regular season games and have 3 bye weeks built into the schedule simply because at least one team must have the week off every week. If the NFL and the NFLPA ever look at an 18-game regular season schedule here in the US, I hope they will look at the CFL scheduling and build two bye weeks for each team into such an expanded schedule.
There is other football news this morning. College football conferences are looking at alterations in their structure and scheduling. It seems that the PAC-12 is the first conference out of the gate to institute change. No longer will the winners of the PAC-12 North and the PAC-12 South Divisions necessarily meet in the PAC-12 Championship Game. Starting this year, the two teams with the best conference record will be the opponents in that game.
- The good news here is that the two best PAC-12 teams will play for the conference title. If the winner of one division has 3 conference losses, odds are that it will not be in that championship game because there will be two teams from the other division with fewer losses.
- The potentially bad news here is that this really marks the demise of the division structure in the PAC-12 and the way the conference had split the divisions each division had multiple school pairings that represented longstanding rivalries. I am not sure that the loss of divisions is necessarily a good thing.
In the past, the NCAA required conferences to split into divisions if they wanted to have a championship game and they were unable/unwilling to play a full round-robin schedule. [Aside: Why the NCAA mavens thought that rule needed to exist in the first place remains mysterious.] However, the NCAA’s Division 1 Council scrapped that requirement, and the PAC-12 seized the opportunity to make the change. Reports say that the ACC, Big-10 and SEC are also considering structural and scheduling changes; so, stand by for more news on this front.
And one more peripheral football note. ESPN reportedly “promoted” Dan Orlovsky and assigned him to be the replacement for Brian Griese on what is now ESPN’s “second broadcast team” for NFL games. When ESPN hired Joe Buck and Troy Aikman away from FOX, that demoted the current MNF team to second string and Griese “took his career in a different direction.” Supposedly, FOX was interested in hiring Orlovsky, but ESPN found a way to keep him where he is.
Under the current deal between ESPN and the NFL, the network will get to do more than just Monday Night Football games; there could be as many as five additional games on the network starting next season. That is not a full-time workload by any means, but both Orlovsky and Louis Riddick will also be significant contributors to ESPN studio shows related to NFL happenings.
I do not recall ever hearing Orlovsky do TV color analysis. I have heard him in his studio show assignments and I certainly hope that he can “tone it down” just a bit during games. Enthusiasm is good; analysis is good; presenting one’s enthusiasm and analysis at 90 decibels punctuated only with exclamation points will wear thin over a 3-hour game telecast.
Finally, here is an NFL observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Viking QB Kirk Cousins’ career record as an NFL starter is 59-59-2.
“Shouldn’t that make him the Minneapolis .500?”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………