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JONES: The only question for CFL now is what type of eight-game schedule to go with

A football fan dressed as The Incredible Hulk watches the Edmonton Eskimos play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. Saskatchewan won 27-24.
A football fan dressed as The Incredible Hulk watches the Edmonton Eskimos play against the Saskatchewan Roughriders Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 26, 2019. Saskatchewan won 27-24.

There is no lack to the length a self-isolating sports fan will go to keep himself occupied and engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I present the case of Brian Desjarlais, a CFL statistician of 27 completed seasons and Edmonton Eskimos statistical consultant for 19 of those years.

Out of personal interest and curiosity, Desjarlais produced two well thought out, totally usable, indeed instantly adoptable, eight-game schedules with a September launch.

“With all kids activities cancelled, my life as an Uber-parent (drive my kids everywhere) has ground to a halt. No spring hockey and baseball practices, games and tournaments,” he explained. “Over the years, I have collected lots of data and now have the time to put it all together. With COVID-19, I have been tweeting more historical Eskimo facts to try and keep the Eskimo fans that follow me entertained.

“While working on the Eskimo record book, I saw a few tweets about how a new CFL season could start Labour Day. Everyone talked about it but there were no paper-to-pen examples. So, I thought, ‘Why not do it myself?’ So I did.”

While the CFL has its annual draft to engage fans this week, I would have expected the league to produce the one and only option to have a season that exists for them now. Now, I submit, Desjarlais has gone ahead and done it for them.

The pair of schedules Desjarlais put together succeeded in slating games on dates when teams had been scheduled to play a home game (*) and against the team (∆) they were originally supposed to play that day as often as possible.

The regular-season options would be followed by the traditional semifinal and final weekends and Grey Cup Week, as originally scheduled.

Schedule A. Interlocking:

Week1: Mtl@BC; Wpg@Sask∆; Tor@Ham∆; Edm@Cgy∆.
Week2: Cgy@Mtl; Ham@Wpg*; Ott@Edm*; Tor@BC∆.
Week3: BC@Ham; Cgy@Sask∆; Ott@Tor∆; Edm@Wpg*.
Week4: Mtl@Ham∆;Wpg@Cgy∆; BC@Ott*; Sask@Tor.
Week5: Edm@Tor*; Wpg@Ott; Sask@Mtl*; Ham@Cgy.
Week6: Tor@Wpg*; Ott@Sask; Cgy@BC*; Mtl@Edm.
Week7: Mtl@Ott; Cgy@Tor; Edm@Ham*; Sask@BC.
Week8: Wpg@Mtl; Ott@Cgy; B.C@Edm*; Ham@Sask*.
Week9: BC@Wpg.; Sask@Edm; Ham@Ott; Tor@Mtl*.

That’s not bad. There’s a surprising number of same dates (17) involved and even same match-ups (7). But it would involve a lot of charter flights.

The East is East and West is West and Never the Twain Shall Meet Until the Grey Cup schedule from pre-1961 days that Desjarlais produced would allow the East teams to play out the schedule by bus or train. And it would dramatically reduce the air travel required in the West as well.

Desjarlais would lobby for Aug. 27 and Aug. 29 games in Winnipeg and Edmonton — lower COVID-19 number CFL cities — but would move the two games to Sept. 1 if required.

His West vs. West, East vs. East schedule would feature a remarkable 31 same-date games as on the original schedule and 14 of them involving the both teams originally scheduled to play each other in those games.

Schedule B. Divisional:

Week1: BC@Wpg*; Sask@Edm∆.
Week2: Mtl@Ott*; Wpg@Sask∆; Tor@Ham∆; Edm@Cal∆.
Week3: Ham@Ott*; Cgy@Wpg*; Mtl@Tor; Edm@BC*
Week4: Ham@Mtl*; Cgy@Sask∆; Ott@Tor∆; Wpg@Edm.
Week5: Mtl@Ham∆; Wpg@Cal∆; Tor@Ott∆; Sask@BC∆.
Week6: Ham@Tor*; BC@Sask; Ott@Mtl*; Cgy@Edm*.
Week7: Sask@Wpg*; Cgy@BC∆; Tor@Mtl∆.
Week8: BC@Cal*; Ott@Ham*; Edm@Wpg*.
Week9: Tor@Ott*; Wpg@BC∆; Edm@Sask*; Mtl@Ham.
Week19: BC@Edm; Sask@Cal∆; Ham@Tor*; Ott@Mtl*.

So, which way would you want it?

Old-time interlocking, or pre-1961 Big Four and Western interprovincial?

To me, West vs. West, East vs. East would be far more attractive. It would feature reduced travel, bigger gates with more rivalry games and likely more meaningful games with more drama.

It has now become obvious that the CFL has one hope of having a reasonable facsimile of a football season leading to a 108th Grey Cup game Nov. 22 in Regina with a normal set of playoff games preceding it. It would be with an eight-game regular season starting in September.

Thanks to Desjarlais, I submit, here are the CFL schedule options to get fans engaged.

Try to come up with a better one.


On Twitter: @ByTerryJones

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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