Suitor: CFL should consider ‘everything’ except changing number of players & downs

Photo courtesy: TSN/Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television

TSN broadcaster and retired defensive back Glen Suitor recognizes that the CFL is considering big changes to its game but doesn’t believe the number of downs or players should be up for debate.

“I will have an open mind through all of it, but to me that line in the sand is twelve players per side and three downs. That’s the line, and then everything else let’s talk about,” said Suitor on TSN 1260.

“I would even look at a couple of other things: one would be a ratio with coaching to have young Canadian coaches mandated. There are a lot across the league now, but to have it that one or two of your coaches must be Canadians I think should probably be looked at.”

The CFL saw scoring drop from 49.5 points per game in 2019 to 43.1 points per game in 2021, a decrease of 12.9 percent. It appears the league office believes switching from three downs to four is a way in which scoring could potentially increase.

“I’m open to discussing a lot of different rules, but as I said in the close of our broadcast of the Grey Cup, I just hope that when the league office sits down to discuss any and all rules that they’re going to discuss, that they always have front of mind — not in the back of their mind — but front of mind the great players like Dan Kepley and players like that. We are standing on their shoulders and the great tradition of our game,” said Suitor.

The origin of three-down football can be traced back well over a century, while the CFL’s ratio rule has been in effect since the days of the Western Interprovincial Football Union in the 1930s. Suitor doesn’t seem to want the ratio to be changed, either, as he referenced some of the star Canadians from Sunday’s Grey Cup between Winnipeg and Hamilton.

“The thousands of kids that watched Tunde Adeleke and Andrew Harris and all the other Canadians. … They were watching that at home thinking, ‘You know what? … Maybe one day I could be playing in my backyard playing professional football with my family and the crowd and my country behind me because I’m representing my province.’ This is what I hope is front of mind with these discussions.”

Harris rushed 18 times for 80 yards and caught two passes for three yards in Winnipeg’s 33-25 overtime win over Hamilton. Adeleke had two tackles for the Ticats, Michael Domagala went three-for-three on field goals, and Jake Thomas recorded a sack for the Blue Bombers.

The game’s Most Valuable Canadian was Winnipeg slotback Nic Demski, however, after he made four catches for 27 yards and a touchdown.

The CFL released its full 2022 schedule on Thursday, which includes a return to a traditional 18-game regular season following a shortened 2021 campaign. The question remains whether or not the game will look different when teams return to action following a five-month off-season.