We’ve already documented how CFL players spent the weekend arguing on Twitter about the possibility of reducing the number of starting Canadians from seven to five so now it’s time to hear from a coach on the issue.
Ottawa Redblacks’ head coach Rick Campbell was on radio in Ottawa on Sunday and managed to be complimentary about the ability of Canadian players while also pointing out the challenges of fielding a roster with quality nationals late in the season.
“The Canadian talent is the best it’s ever been. And the only issue becomes because the amount of people that live in Canada – whatever it is 35 million or 38 million – the population of the United States is ten times as much and there’s just more football players,” Campbell said on TSN 1200 radio.
Campbell is a guy who, as the son of legendary coach Hugh Campbell, literally grew up around football and the CFL. So while he’s American by birth, he certainly has an innate understanding of challenges coaches in the league face while also respecting the CFL game and its players.
Campbell points out that when Ottawa joined the league in time for the 2014 season, they diluted the Canadian talent pool. At the same time, the NFL woke up to the fact that there are quality football players in Canada and started drafting and signing them to contracts.
“What’s hard is, especially when we came into the league, it added that many more Canadians needed. And then the NFL is at an all-time high – the NFL has a roster of Canadians – it’s like a whole other team, I call it the tenth team that took Canadians. There’s like 16 or 17 guys that obviously are very good football players. So they keep taking Canadians too,” he said.
But even with the Canadian talent level at an all-time high, Campbell says things can get challenging at the end of the year as the injuries pile up.
“It’s not the quality, it’s the quantity of people and it can get hard late in the year if Canadians get hurt to replace guys. No one in the CFL including me would – it’s not about trying to diminish the Canadian content – it’s just making sure we’re logical about the spots to fill,” Campell said. “The Canadian talent – best it’s been. And the USports players and coaches that’s the best it’s ever been. It’s just a matter of making sure we have enough of them to go round.”
So Rick Campbell thinks national talent is the best its been but maybe, just maybe, the ratio should go down anyway. With diplomacy skills like that, are we sure he isn’t Canadian?