Commissioner Randy Ambrosie floats idea for new CFL playoff format

CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie has a new idea for post-season seeding in the three-down league.

Ambrosie shared the possibility during his first Randy’s Road Trip stop in Ottawa Saturday night.

“Major League Baseball is thinking about changing its playoff format where more teams would be involved. Here’s an idea that’s been floated. The first-place teams in the East and West would win their divisions and would host a playoff game — the same as we currently have,” Ambrosie said at TD Place’s Otto’s Club from Ottawa Sun reporter Tim Baines.

“The difference would be that the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place teams in the league would make the playoffs, regardless of division. Third would play sixth and fourth would play fifth. It makes the late-stage competition for a playoff game more important.”

It can be tough to ensure playoff balance in a nine-team league, especially in a year when one division — in recent seasons its been the West — is far superior to the other. The crossover rule was implemented to try to maximize meaningful and competitive games down the stretch and to reward the better teams with playoff spots.

CFL purists often point to the history of the East versus West play downs as a reason to eschew evolution. Based on what Ambrosie had to say, it seems as though the league is at least open to considering adjustment of the current playoff setup.

“Here’s the next change: After the two semi-final games are played on Saturday, Sunday would be decision day for the first-place team. On a nationally broadcast show, the first-place team would pick who they’re playing from the (two semi-final winners,” Ambrosie said.

“It’s something we’re talking about. If we did this, what we might have to agree on is we would do this for a limited amount of time until we got Halifax into the league — then we might have to make a different decision.”

There are people who believe the CFL has serious problems with its playoff format — and has for a very long time. Ambrosie is at the very least having the conversation which could usher in new unique structure.

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