Yesterday the CFL provided a much-needed public update to the state of its 2020 season. Commissioner Randy Ambrosie’s message had three key points: a potential season start date, the cancellation of Touchdown Atlantic, and a new Grey Cup host (possibly).
Debating over the likelihood of the 2020 season being played would be endless, so hypothetically looking at this shortened season would be more beneficial. After all, hypothetical and sports have a close relationship right now.
So, where would teams specifically land if this shortened 2020 CFL season got the green light? Who benefits from the proposed best-team-host-city Grey Cup format?
Before coronavirus even surfaced, the Roughriders were in a damn good spot to clinch first in the West again and give the West Final another go on home field. Saskatchewan’s core around Cody Fajardo is intact and in their prime. William Powell, Shaq Evans, Cam Judge, Nick Marshall — the stars go on.
That said, Saskatchewan would have a shorter path to the Grey Cup. Fewer games means fresher bodies and a better chance for the “reloading” teams to shine due to the turnover.
Looking bigger picture, the host city rule to the Grey Cup may remove the Riders from a home Grey Cup. But there’d be a good chance Saskatchewan could earn a home Grey Cup through their regular season performance, and then suddenly Regina is hosting two Grey Cups in three years.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers
The defending champs didn’t change much by choice in the off-season. Winnipeg’s big free agency move was the retaining of Zach Collaros and Willie Jefferson. Now like Saskatchewan, Winnipeg is reloading with their eyes set on a home-field playoff run.
What the Bombers and Roughriders have in common is a massive home-field advantage (and a knack for instant classics in the Prairies). If either team gets first in their division and hosts the Grey Cup, it may as well be curtains.
Then there’s Andrew Harris. It’d be a shame if a year of the 33-year-old’s career was lost. Winnipeg would likely hit the ground running, and could really make a statement if their first game is indeed the Labour Day Classic.
The Lions would be a sneaky team to catch fire at the right time. With a 35-year-old Mike Reilly in his second season with the Lions, a much-improved offensive and defensive lines could be what makes B.C. click.
The Lions have a solid amount of talent on paper and should know a thing or two about complacency to begin a season. Who’s to say Reilly doesn’t come out firing to Bryan Burnham and the newly acquired Dominque Rhymes?
Plus, B.C. is the only team with an indoor stadium. That alone is a winner in my books.
No team’s gone through a more significant off-season turnaround than the Argos. Toronto’s brought in a first-year coach, a new veteran quarterback, and revamped their defence. Yes, I’m still talking about the Argos and not the 2019 B.C. Lions.
As we saw with B.C. last year, it can take time for a ton of new and inexperienced pieces to gel. Nearly every move the Argos have made in the past few months has made sense.
Even Ryan Dinwiddie seems like a strong out-of-the-box hire, while Matt Nichols should do some work with new offensive weapons. On defence, the secondary is looking stout and the likes of Bo Lokombo, Nick Shorthill, Craig Roh, and Drake Nevis could be huge upfront. But at the end of the day, it’ll likely take time — which isn’t on Toronto’s side.
It’s yet another season where key Stampeders go to the NFL, others depart in free agency, and some question whether Calgary can keep up their winning ways. Calgary’s extremely vulnerable this year, especially in their makeshift secondary after the losses of starters Tre Roberson, DaShaun Amos, and Brandon Smith.
Then playing devil’s advocate, if the Stamps do find a way behind Bo Levi Mitchell and take it the distance, what will this do for Mitchell’s legacy? He’d be 3-2 as a starter in the Grey Cup, but would the third ring come with an asterisk from the shortened season?
The bottom line is it really seems like a lose-lose for the Stamps, and especially for Bo.
Like the current situation in the MLB, money and more specifically players’ salaries is going to be a pretentious topic over the next months. The CFLPA’s surely going to try their best to get players their best possible payout, but what’s that realistically going to look like?
Americans making close to minimum salaries are already taking him a poor income across the border. Now throw in the health and travel risks associated with playing football in large cities. Then presumably cut these salaries in half, and you have to assume there will be many players stepping up and saying “what’s the point?”
If there’s a 2020 CFL season, the CFLPA is fighting a losing battle when it comes to compensation.
Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images