Cup name not up for sale

IAN BUSBY

, Last Updated: 12:34 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Scoring and TV ratings are up, penalties are down and the CFL is working on getting a title sponsor for the playoff run each November.

But don't worry. The Grey Cup itself isn't undergoing a name change.

Commissioner Mark Cohon delivered his annual state of the league address yesterday and touched on several key points, but he emphasized the Grey Cup won't have a sponsor's title under his guidance.

"I want to be able to walk through the village and be greeted warmly by our fans," Cohon said. "What I'm finding more and more in this role is there is a special place this Cup and this event has in this country."

Cohon wasn't facing many tough questions about the state of the CFL. By all accounts, things are going well.

Scoring went up 14.5% over last year, and this was the sixth highest total in the history of the league.

Penalties are down 23% this year, including 46% on preventable fouls such as offside and procedure, and Cohon credited the hiring of Tom Higgins for those improvements.

And regular-season TV ratings on TSN were up 14% from the previous year. This is also the seventh straight year the CFL drew more than two million at the gate.

Here are a few other things Cohon touched on:

- TSN's playoff numbers were down nearly 40% for some games, and the move to Saturdays didn't pay off. The gates were strong, but clearly Saturday isn't a good day. The CFL will announce their decision this off-season, but expect Sunday playoff games next year.

- The league is investing in a command centre in Toronto to aid officials. That should speed up instant replay by staffing an official in the head office. The rules and competition committees will have to decide which calls the command centre will make.

- Ottawa is expected to return to the CFL in 2011, but further expansion is far off. A new city would need a stadium of at least 25,000 seats to survive.

- Every team will have a retro jersey night next season the way the Bombers and Argos did this year.

- The CFL schedule should open on Canada Day, which is a Wednesday.

- The Canadian college draft will be broadcast live on TSN next year.

- The salary cap won't increase next season.

- There is a draft for a drug-testing policy that will have to be worked into the next collective bargaining agreement. The current one is set to expire in May 2010, and CFLPA is on board.

Cohon did take time out to acknowledge the many people the CFL has lost in the past year, such as Bobby Ackles, Ron Lancaster, Jake Gaudaur and Don Wittman to name a few.

"The league is stronger because of those men and they will be missed," Cohon said.


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