Canadian Football League commissioner Randy Ambrosie delivers his annual state of the league address to reporters during the CFL Grey Cup week in Calgary, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Ambrosie can see the CFL going global in 2021. The CFL commissioner said Tuesday during the league???s winter meetings the league will likely play a regular-season game outside of Canada sometime in 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie floating new playoff format to league fans

On Saturday night, the CFL commissioner began his annual cross-country trek in Ottawa

Randy Ambrosie has started floating a new playoff format to CFL fans.

On Saturday night, the CFL commissioner began his annual cross-country trek in Ottawa by offering a new twist on the league’s current post-season format. Under the formula, the East and West Division first-place finishers would secure opening-round byes.

The next top four finishers — regardless of division — would claim the remaining four berths, with the third- and fourth-place clubs hosting the bottom two in semifinal action on a Saturday. The following day, the franchise with the best regular-season record would choose which opening-round winner it wanted to face in its conference final.

“It’s just so interesting because there’d be the fan intrigue of which team is going to be chosen,” Ambrosie said during a telephone interview Tuesday prior to meeting with Montreal football fans. “Because your top-six teams are all getting a shot at the playoffs we think it could actually keep more teams in the playoff hunt longer and create more intrigue.

“Obviously being in fifth place would be better than sixth, being fourth would be better than fifth. We’re thinking it could create more fan engagement and more interest in the later-season games.”

Ambrosie said the new format was the brainchild of Winnipeg president Wade Miller and has the support of the league’s innovation committee, which includes representation from the CFL Players’ Association. The proposal is expected to be presented to the league’s board of governors March 17.

ALSO READ: CFL teams under the microscope after free agency begins

“By March 17th I will have criss-crossed the country and had the chance to share what the feedback was from fans and we’ll have seen the reporting on it,” Ambrosie said. “Then we’ll take it to the governors and put it on the table for them to consider.

“We’ll make a decision, I believe, in March on whether we’re going to go forward with it and if so, are we going to go in 2020 or wait until 2021? Really right now what we’re doing is getting an opportunity to get a chance to hear what CFL fans think and give them a role to play in shaping the future of our league.”

The CFL’s current East-West playoff format has long been a bone of contention with fans, especially those in Western Canada who’ve grown tired of seeing Eastern squads with inferior records reaching the post-season.

In 1996, the CFL instituted the crossover rule. It stipulates a fourth-place team in one division that has more points than the third-place squad in the other crosses over to the other division at the end of the regular season and assume the No. 3 playoff seed.

Since the rule was adopted, all crossover teams have come from the West. Western clubs are 5-7 in East Division semifinal games but 0-5 in conference finals.

Even if the CFL board votes to adopt the new format, Ambrosie said that doesn’t mean it will be forever.

“We can announce we’re going to do two seasons of this and see how it works,” he said. “We can always go back to the old way.

“If you state that up front … then it allows us to experiment with some new ideas and to see how we combine these new ideas to engage our fans.”

On Monday, free-agent Derek Dennis — the CFL’s outstanding lineman in 2016 — signed a contract with the XFL’s reserve team. He became the league’s second high-profile player to do so after veteran S.J. Green.

Green signed his XFL deal Feb. 10, the day before the start of CFL free agency, after being released Feb. 7 by the Toronto Argonauts. The Seattle Dragons added the six-foot-three, 216-pound Green — a three-time Grey Cup champion, to their roster Feb. 11.

Both Green and Dennis are proven CFL performers. Over 13 seasons in Canada, Green has amassed 716 receptions for 10,222 yards with 60 TDs and is an eight-time all-star.

Dennis has spent four of his five seasons in Canada with the Calgary Stampeders, helping them a Grey Cup title in 2018. Green believes more CFL players will be making the jump.

“There will be more to follow,” he tweeted.

Ambrosie has taken notice.

“My No. 1 priority is to focus on our business plan and build the biggest, strongest global CFL possible,” he said. “It doesn’t mean you don’t pay attention to what’s going on around you and obviously whenever a really good player finds a different league it’s a cause for concern.

“We don’t want to lose great players but at the same time we’ve got to be very excited about the path we’re on and stay focused on building our own best league. That’s literally where my mind is focused every day but I can tell you it’s (losing veterans to XFL) is very important and I pay attention to it.”

Dan Ralph, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CFL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From baseball stars to forest fires: Southeast Fire Centre water bomber has an interesting past

Tanker 489 is stationed in Castlegar this year, but in the 1960s it belonged to the L.A. Dodgers.

Two search and rescue calls involving children end with happy outcomes

The incidents took place in Trail and Salmo area on July 5 and 6

Tanis Shippy joins Rossland Seven Summits of Learning as new administrator

Shippy has been training in her new role over the past month

Trail RCMP officer accused of criminal harassment, forcible entry

BCPS: The charges against Murchie date between 2017 and 2020

Petition calls on referendum for new city hall development in Rossland

The petition sent to the B.C. government has gathered more than 350 signatures

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read