CFL playoff format solution:

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tigerrr22
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Sun Sep 10, 2017 10:48 am

With divisional imbalance we see inequity as to who makes the playoffs and who doesn't. Why not go to this playof format for 2018 and beyond:

East and West Division regular season winners seeded #1 & #2 in order of regular season records against each other. Then seed the other 7 teams in order of regular season records against each other #3 through #9. Top 7 seeds make the playoffs. Higher seed always gets home advantage. Playoffs:
Grey Cup Quarter Finals: (#1 seed gets a bye.)
#2 vs #7, #3 vs #6, #4 vs #5. Winners advance to Grey Cup Semi Finals.

Grey Cup Semi Finals:
#1 vs lowest remaining seed.
2nd lowest remain seed vs 3rd lowest remaining seed.
Winners advance to Grey Cup game in designated host city.

This playoff format would ensure all the best teams make the playoffs in seasons with and without divisional balance. Also new rivalries would be created. A unique playoff set up every season. One extra playoff game per season too. (Maybe the playoffs could start with a Friday night game?) The likelihood of an east vs west Grey Cup game quite probable with home field advantage, for both regular season division winners, guaranteed until the Grey Cup game. If the #2 seed were to lose their Quarter Final game then home field advantage would be inherited by the next highest seed remaining in the Grey Cup Semi Finals.

The Western Division and Eastern Division Champions' trophies can be awarded to the regular season division winners to keep that tradition alive too. Here's how the playoff seedings would look as of September 10th, 2017 if the suggested playoff format were already in effect:

1)Calgary 9-1-1
2)Ottawa 4-7-1
------------------------------
3)Winnipeg 8-3
4)Edmonton 7-4
5)BC Lions 6-5
6)Saskatchewan 5-5
7)Toronto 4-7
___________________
8)Montreal 3-8
9)Hamilton 2-8

Grey Cup Quarter Finals:
1)Calgary gets a bye.
2)Ottawa vs 7)Toronto
3)Winnipeg vs 6)Saskatchewan
4)Edmonton vs 5)BC Lions

Grey Cup Semi Finals:
1)Calgary vs lowest remaining seed.
2nd lowest remaining seed vs 3rd lowest remaining seed.
Winners advance to Grey Cup game.

Seeing a 4-7-1 team, as the #2 seed, is troubling but an imbalanced and more regionalized regular season schedule is likely far more cost effective, for the league, re: travel and hotel expenses. (The benefits of maintaining the traditional East and West Division league structure.) Also an 18 game regular season, played by 9 teams, is not mathematically able to play a purely balanced schedule. This fact weakens the argument of opting for a 9 team division. (A 10 teamed CFL could incorporate an 18 game balanced schedule as one division of 10 teams or as two divisions (East and West) of 5 teams.)

The best part about this suggested playoff format is that all the best teams make the playoffs whether the divisions are balanced or not. Also most years would serve up two division winners with winning records. Especially if a 10th team is added and an East versus West Grey Cup is still a priority for the league. The suggested 7 team playoff plan, with playoff seedings created, is a far more interesting playoff picture for fans to observe, in my opinion, no matter what the number of teams is.

Dom Froome
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Sun Sep 10, 2017 2:37 pm

Interesting idea, and well thought out.

I think I would prefer to keep it a 6 team playoffs, as it makes the regular season have a bit more importance, and it just seems more "symmetrical."

Due to the imbalance of teams in each division, the current format is unfair. Give the first round bye to the top west and east teams as is, then make it the top 4 other teams. 3 v 6, 4 v 5, without regard for division.

tigerrr22
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:48 am

Your symmetrical approach can work too. But the idea of a 4-7-1 team also getting a first round bye adds salt to the wound doesn't It?

The quest for a more equitable playoff format is the purpose for changing the playoff system in the first place. For a first round bye to only be awarded to the team with the best regular season record certainly adds importance to the regular season, as well, doesn't It?

I think the league would probably welcome an extra playoff game too. A Friday night game followed by two Saturday day time games would be a terrific way to begin the count down to Grey Cup each season!

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Ballistic Bob
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:24 am

In the era of expansion circa 94 was the east west given any creedence because of all rhe teams to the south. BB
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:39 am

Interesting. Reworking the playoff format became a hot topic over in RF.com 5 or 6 weeks back when the Riders were languishing in 5th with a record similar to anybody in the East. Then they went on a tear while BC wallowed around on their 3 game losing streak. Now that the Riders are in the thick of the hunt it's been crickets on the subject. Meantime over in Lionbackers rejigging the playoff format was rarely a topic if discussion until BC found themselves in a heated battle for the final playoff spot.

Doesn't seem to matter which sport or league but there is usually a direct relationship between fans' desire to reinvent playoff formats and their favourite club's status in the playoff race de jour.

I truly do respect the OP's obvious level of thought put into his ideas. I can see TSN not being a fan of changes to existing format. The way things are now sets up for the nice double header format as they know they will have one game coming out of the Eastern time zone with the back half being played out in a western time zone. First game should capture the interest of the eastern market with the double-header keeping them tuned in. Go to a format that doesn't guarantee that and a much different dynamic not just for TV markets but also at the gates for the host clubs. Would eastern viewers tune in if the divisional finals are devoid of East Division content? Typically the playoff games go at 10:00am and 1:30pm PST. In the case of Alberta or BC hosting a double-header in those slots would be 10:00 or 11:00 and 1:30 or 2:30 kickoffs. Obviously the former isn't realistic so the options would be to move things to later in the day to something like 1:00pm MST (noon PST) and 4:30MST (3:30PST) or give up on the double-header dynamic and play one Saturday and the other Sunday. Opening things up to a format that could see nobody east of Winnipeg playing in the second round and the oddball kickoff times as a result likely would cost the CFL both viewers and butts in the seat, especially if the 2nd half of a double-header kicked off on the Prairies as the sun was setting. Speaking from Grey Cup experience that typically knocks 10 degrees of the thermometer in a matter of an hour.
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Toppy Vann
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Mon Sep 11, 2017 7:00 pm

tigerrr22 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:48 am
Your symmetrical approach can work too. But the idea of a 4-7-1 team also getting a first round bye adds salt to the wound doesn't It?

The quest for a more equitable playoff format is the purpose for changing the playoff system in the first place. For a first round bye to only be awarded to the team with the best regular season record certainly adds importance to the regular season, as well, doesn't It?

I think the league would probably welcome an extra playoff game too. A Friday night game followed by two Saturday day time games would be a terrific way to begin the count down to Grey Cup each season!
As noted maybe an extra play off game would be welcomed. A bye to the East Div winner would still be coveted.

If this was done using the last season and maybe one more to give it some testing this could be a winner. That way we might see a more realistic 18 game scenario versus YTD.

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Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:55 pm

tigerrr22 wrote:
Mon Sep 11, 2017 9:48 am
Your symmetrical approach can work too. But the idea of a 4-7-1 team also getting a first round bye adds salt to the wound doesn't It?

The quest for a more equitable playoff format is the purpose for changing the playoff system in the first place. For a first round bye to only be awarded to the team with the best regular season record certainly adds importance to the regular season, as well, doesn't It?

I think the league would probably welcome an extra playoff game too. A Friday night game followed by two Saturday day time games would be a terrific way to begin the count down to Grey Cup each season!
I see what you're getting at. The 3 team could have a better record than a bye team. However, it's pick your poison imo. Without equal treatment of both division winners, we effectively merge into one division. I think this would erode the stature of the league to be honest. And again, I just don't think I can palate an odd number of total teams in the playoffs. Perhaps because it's unprecedented. Further, with 6 of 9 making it, it's pushing things already. 7 of 9 teams seems wonky to me, a CFL fan. Imagine what it looks like to NFL elitist fringe fans!

I don't like the crossover because you get a west team playing in the "east semi." Further, hosting is huge, and so is the courtesy tie break the weaker division gets. Both unfair advantages. I can live with the east div winner getting the bye and hosting, mainly in the interest of maintaining two divisions, and also because to win the division you generally need a decent record.

tigerrr22
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 6:37 am

[quote="Ballistic Bob" post_id=384031 time=1505150677 user_id=435]
In the era of expansion circa 94 was the east west given any creedence because of all rhe teams to the south. BB
[/quote]

In 1994 the CFL had 12 teams. They had an East and a West Division. Each division had 4 Canadian teams with 2 American teams. And the playoffs saw each division produce a Grey Cup finalist. There was no crossover or melding of teams creating playoff seedings regardless of geographical locations of teams.

In 1995 the CFL went to an 8 team all Canadian North Division and a 5 team All American South Division. After the regular season the 5th place Winnipeg Blue Bombers crossed over into the South Division to join the top three South Division teams. The Bombers were 7-11 while Memphis (4th in the South) were bumped out of the playoffs with a 9-9 record. The top four North Division teams made the playoffs. With 4 teams set in each division they did a 1vs4 and 2vs3 approach. Higher seed getting home field advantage. Eventually a North Division team (Calgary) played a South Division team (Baltimore) for the Grey Cup.

There's no doubt that TSN will play a huge role in any revamping of the CFL playoff format. I think they can manage a plan to add an extra playoff game each season too. Also the playoff games that see an East vs West team, would likely draw a bigger audience, nationally, because more fans live closer to each of the teams in any such playoff matchup than say Calgary vs Edmonton or Toronto vs Hamilton or Winnipeg vs Saskatchewan etc.

Once you get to the Grey Cup game then the appeal has a whole new level of interest because it's the Grey Cup game. A Canadian tradition in a pre selected city that two surviving teams compete in. Imagine if Calgary played Edmonton for the Grey Cup and the game was played in Saskatchewan? Fans of both teams could travel to the game easily and the people of Sakatchewan would support the game to the max too. It would be fascinating if such a Grey Cup game "could" occur.

The CFL is already willing to gamble away an East versus West Grey Cup matchup, each season, with the playoff cross over format. The 7 team playoff structure I propose isn't very likely to produce an East vs East or a West vs West Grey Cup game either. Unless one division winner is an awful team that won an absolutely awful division.

I think the CFL would be far more interesting with a more complex and yet equitable playoff format too. With 7 teams in the playoffs you're likely to see 8 or possibly all 9 teams mathematically alive, regarding making the playoffs, until the second to last or very last week of the regular season. This can only help ticket sales late in the regular season. Great opinions expressed guys!

Dominic Froome
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 8:03 am

I think the crossover rule more than adequately takes care of divisional disparity. 21 seasons have passed since its inception in 1996. In that span the crossover has come into play 9 times. Only twice has the team crossing over won their first game. None have won both. Through most of that time the league has operated as an 8 team circuit. We are now in the 9th season as a 9 team operation since the crossover came into effect. Ironically under the suggested 7 team playoff format BC would've made the 1996 playoffs as the 7th seed at 5-13. The 7th seed has always finished with a losing record as would be expected. To me the thought of a 7 team playoff format (77.7% get in) harkens back to the days of the 21 team NHL when 16 teams (76.2%) made the post-season. Talk about rewarding mediocrity. In that era NHL teams didn't have to be mediocre to average to get in. They just had to be better than really bad and they were in.
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B.C.FAN
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:10 am

I'd still like to see more divisional play and fewer East-West games during the regular season, while retaining the divisional playoff format. This is the second straight year that the Lions get only one regular-season home game against Saskatchewan. I'd much rather get two home games against Saskatchewan each year and get one home game against Hamilton or Toronto every two years. That would help attendance because it would promote regional rivalries and allow more fans to travel to away games.

For the second straight year, the Lions have five home games after Labour Day. This is the time of the season when attendance usually peaks. Regional rivalries are heightened and teams battle for divisional playoff position. This year, of those five final home games, four are against East Division teams and only one is against a divisional rival, Edmonton. How do you get excited about a playoff race with that schedule? It's hard to generate fan interest in a steady diet of East Division teams.

Let the West play more games against the West and the East play more games against the East. There would be more fan interest in the regular season and less disparity in the standings at the end of the season. Preserve the East-West rivalry for Grey Cup because that generates more national fan interest. It's a win-win situation.
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:24 am

B.C.FAN wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:10 am
I'd still like to see more divisional play and fewer East-West games during the regular season, while retaining the divisional playoff format. This is the second straight year that the Lions get only one regular-season home game against Saskatchewan. I'd much rather get two home games against Saskatchewan each year and get one home game against Hamilton or Toronto every two years. That would help attendance because it would promote regional rivalries and allow more fans to travel to away games.

For the second straight year, the Lions have five home games after Labour Day. This is the time of the season when attendance usually peaks. Regional rivalries are heightened and teams battle for divisional playoff position. This year, of those five final home games, four are against East Division teams and only one is against a divisional rival, Edmonton. How do you get excited about a playoff race with that schedule? It's hard to generate fan interest in a steady diet of East Division teams.

Let the West play more games against the West and the East play more games against the East. There would be more fan interest in the regular season and less disparity in the standings at the end of the season. Preserve the East-West rivalry for Grey Cup because that generates more national fan interest. It's a win-win situation.
I remember being quite excited when the CFL went to the more balanced schedule with all teams playing each other home and home. I didn't have to wait 2 years to see some of the Eastern clubs and stars. I still prefer that over the old system where teams played the other division only once each per season either home or away. Think of it from the East perspective. If we went to that format that would leave each East team playing 5 games vs the West and 13 against the East. They'd have to play 2 teams in their division 4 times and the 3rd team 5 times. Every year two East teams would be stuck with watching the same visiting team for 1/3 of their regular season home schedule.
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B.C.FAN
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 2:27 pm

Hambone wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:24 am
B.C.FAN wrote:
Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:10 am
I'd still like to see more divisional play and fewer East-West games during the regular season, while retaining the divisional playoff format. This is the second straight year that the Lions get only one regular-season home game against Saskatchewan. I'd much rather get two home games against Saskatchewan each year and get one home game against Hamilton or Toronto every two years. That would help attendance because it would promote regional rivalries and allow more fans to travel to away games.

For the second straight year, the Lions have five home games after Labour Day. This is the time of the season when attendance usually peaks. Regional rivalries are heightened and teams battle for divisional playoff position. This year, of those five final home games, four are against East Division teams and only one is against a divisional rival, Edmonton. How do you get excited about a playoff race with that schedule? It's hard to generate fan interest in a steady diet of East Division teams.

Let the West play more games against the West and the East play more games against the East. There would be more fan interest in the regular season and less disparity in the standings at the end of the season. Preserve the East-West rivalry for Grey Cup because that generates more national fan interest. It's a win-win situation.
I remember being quite excited when the CFL went to the more balanced schedule with all teams playing each other home and home. I didn't have to wait 2 years to see some of the Eastern clubs and stars. I still prefer that over the old system where teams played the other division only once each per season either home or away. Think of it from the East perspective. If we went to that format that would leave each East team playing 5 games vs the West and 13 against the East. They'd have to play 2 teams in their division 4 times and the 3rd team 5 times. Every year two East teams would be stuck with watching the same visiting team for 1/3 of their regular season home schedule.
For that reason, I think the best option is somewhere between the two extremes. For example, West teams could play each other three times a year and play six games against the East (two each against two teams and one each against two teams). East teams would play each other three or four times and play West division teams once or twice.
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tigerrr22
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Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:42 pm

Good points guys. The Lions schedule is strange this season. Like why they play two games, in Winnipeg, within a three week stretch? Also these games against Eastern teams, down the stretch, are going to be more difficult to win than in the first half of the season. Hamilton and Ottawa are starting to get it together. The other teams all fighting to win the division and make the playoffs too.

The proposed 7 team playoff format does create a foundation for creating more interest in future East versus West regular season matchups though. The reason being they'd all likely be fighting for 5 playoff spots after the division leaders are idemtified each week. So in a Lions' regular season,like this year, some of these Eastern opponents could be far more crucial games for the Lions to win. (The same kind of pressure we see in divisional battles today.) Why should East/West rivalries only be created by Grey Cup games? (Such as Calgary/Ottawa, today, or Sakatchewan/Montreal in recent years.) Why not let the regular season and future Grey Cup Quarter Final and Semi Final matchups all create more meaning to these East vs West battles. And then with fewer West vs West or East vs East matchups the appeal is heightened when these classic matchups occur while new rivalries add to the appeal of regular season games for fans to buy tickets to attend rather than choose to avoid if it isn't a regional rival? The future is more important than the past because it hasn't happened yet.

Dominic Froome
Vancouver

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