This week in the CFL the Montreal Alouettes announced that they had hired Jason Maas as their new head coach. For many sports fan bases, the hiring of a new head coach would produce excitement and give the franchise a new start to reach higher achievements.
So far that has not been the reaction, the actual reaction has been a flood of complaints about the hire due to Maas being fired as the offensive coordinator for the Roughriders and then being promoted in the league. This is very similar to the Tiger-Cats effort to improve their quarterback situation by entering into the “Bo Levi Mitchell” derby, and they put themselves in a position to be manipulated by a quarterback that was benched by the Calgary Stampeders in favor of a younger quarterback.
While these situations seem to be isolated situations, what they are is evidence of the problem that the CFL faces with a lack of fan engagement and struggles with attendance for CFL games.
It is difficult for a CFL team’s fan base to get invigorated by team decisions that seem to be driven by tradition rather than production. Rather than CFL teams competing for the pre-existing scraps in the CFL system, and losing higher-level talent to other opportunities, the league needs to focus on creating new opportunities for exciting new talent.
A great source for this talent would be USports football and USports coaches. While watching USports football this season it was exciting to see the quality of football that is being played at that level. If the CFL made an effort to invest in developing these players and coaches there would be an opportunity to help make these players household names in Canada.
When those players and coaches were then picked up by CFL teams, there would be a connection between the players and fans that would benefit the CFL team. One of the major reasons that the NFL has such a large group of diehard fans is the fact that the NFL uses the top players from NCAA football and fans already have a connection to those players.
Another point of emphasis for CFL teams should be using more resources to scout NCAA football players that are not on the NFL radar. Many of these FBS teams in the US that are currently playing in bowl games are loaded with players that would be a great fit for the CFL. Instead of investing time and resources into attempting to convince players that could not make an NFL team to come to Canada, they should be finding some of these young hungry players that want to make a name for themselves.
Like Nathan Rourke, they may want to leave to go to the NFL once they are established, but every year there are equally high-quality players coming out of FBS and FCS teams. The new blood would give the CFL fans the chance to get excited about new players and coaches that will become the new future of their favorite CFL team.
There have been many conversations this off-season about how the XFL, USFL, NFL, and other football leagues are negatively affecting the CFL. This would be true if the CFL was a closed system with limited talent, and at times the CFL appears to be that closed system. For CFL teams that are willing to be innovative, there are nearly unlimited sources of talent that they could be using to build championship teams.
It would be very exciting to see a CFL that is full of young, vibrant players and innovative coaches for a 21-week season compared to seeing the same players and same coaches in different team colors every year. The reason the CFL is a struggling league is due to the overwhelming resistance to change, but if the nine teams in the CFL decided to make innovation a priority the fan bases would be compelled to return to the stadiums of the CFL and watch exciting and entertaining football.
Follow me on Twitter: @AaronSauter7
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