Ottawa Redblacks’ head coach Paul LaPolice is now at home in Winnipeg and his coaching staff scattered across the United States.
As recently as last week, LaPolice and his staff were hard at work in the nation’s capital going over schemes, fine-tuning playbooks and figuring the best ways to implement and teach those elements to their players during training camp, whenever that may take place.
“Our people at OSEG were really good in telling us it’s time to go home. It’s scary times. This is very strange in our world of pro sports with everything being cancelled and the uncertainty of when the season will start,” LaPolice said on TSN 1200 radio in Ottawa.
“We sent our coaches home to the U.S. and we knew there is no guarantee when they could come back. We said this will be at least a month if not more. We’re getting pretty close to our kick-off time, it’ll be interesting to see what the league decides to do.”
Although it’s a surreal situation, LaPolice stated even though he’s physically far from his staff and players, with today’s technology, they’re still able to operate relatively as normal. His staff can still watch film and put together reports on free agents and potential draft picks. Players have access to an app that features the team’s tentative playbook and allows them to watch and share video.
Given that the app features cutouts and concepts from previous offences and playbooks LaPolice and his staff have used, players should be ready to hit the ground running whenever the team is assembled.
In terms of training camp, LaPolice has been holding full staff meetings online via conference calls to go over camp installs and to plan for all possibilities; schedules that feature starting on time, or a shortened abbreviated camp.
“If we have to amend that training camp, we’ll amend it,” LaPolice said.
Beyond worrying about his own team, LaPolice is concerned about the state of the CFL itself. The television contract with TSN is worth approximately $50 million, however, not having bums in seats for a full schedule of pre-season and regular season games could hurt the bottom line.
“In our league, the revenue is generated from not from television but from actually putting people in the seats, different than some of the other leagues down south. That’s an important piece of the puzzle and hopefully it gets rectified,” LaPolice said.
To this point, the CFL hasn’t publicly stated that the opening of training camps will be delayed. But it’s a very real possibility, because even if the coronavirus curve is flattened significantly in Canada, if that’s not the case in the U.S., there’s no guarantee the border will re-open to allow American coaches and players to head north.