Tweak the schedule!

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:34 AM ET

It's sensational stuff. The plot changes every weekend. As coach Danny Maciocia puts it, you go from drinking wine one weekend to picking the grapes the next. It's a cliff-hanger for everybody.

All four teams in the West are coming down the stretch two points apart with the Edmonton Eskimos and B.C. Lions going into tonight's game at Commonwealth Stadium in a situation where the winner will come out looking at the potential of finishing first and the loser the possibility of finishing fourth.

It can't get any better than this, right?

Yes it can.

LEADING A MOVEMENT

And the Eskimos, Sun Media has learned, are leading a movement petitioning league commissioner Mark Cohon for schedule reform.

The Eskimos are asking that the league adopt a policy where at least the last three, and preferably the final four or five weeks of the regular schedule exclusively feature divisional games.

"That's exactly what we've asked for in next year's schedule," said Eskimos CEO Rick LeLacheur.

"It would be way more preferable to be playing teams in our own division in the final three, four or five weeks of the season.

"It would be ideal to have the last three weeks for sure, with a game against each of the teams in our division.

"In fact, what we've asked for is exclusive divisional play in the first part and the last part of the season with the interlocking games in the middle sections of the schedule."

LeLacheur's point is that we're into the really good stuff now with season series and playoff positioning on the line.

This game is massive. The game between the Eskimos in Saskatchewan next Saturday is huge.

But we don't need Hamilton-Saskatchewan, Winnipeg-Calgary, Toronto-B.C., Hamilton-Calgary, Montreal-Edmonton and Toronto-Saskatchewan games in the final three weeks of the season.

Maciocia, like his boss, wants the full meal deal at the end of the season as well.

"Playing each other once in the final game would make this really, really, really interesting," he said.

"I really believe the league should bulk this up at the end. These games are huge."

The Eskimos, LeLacheur also told the Sun, are petitioning the league to end the plethora of back-to-back game as a part of schedule reform.

This is it. This is the last of them, the last back-to-back double-header of the season.

Last year, for the Edmonton Eskimos, there were five of them - Saskatchewan-Saskatchewan, Calgary-Calgary, Montreal-Montreal, Toronto-Toronto and B.C.-B.C.

This year, despite their dissatisfaction with the year before, it was the same deal all over again, starting Toronto-Toronto, Winnipeg-Winnipeg, B.C.-B.C., the traditional Labour Day Calgary-Calgary double dip and a second B.C.-B.C. set of the season.

"Five games a year for two consecutive years is way too many. Obviously we don't want to get rid of the traditional games like our Labour Day set with Calgary and the Saskatchewan-Winnipeg games," he said.

"I'm not a proponent of the back-to-back games," says Maciocia for his part. "I can handle the traditional one with Calgary."

It's not just management and coaches. It's the players, too.

The other day B.C. centre Angus Reid made headlines when he offered his opinion.

"They suck!" he said.

"Back-to-back games are silly. It's really hard because all you do is watch the same film you watched last week. But what are you going to do about it? I doubt it's going to change."

BACK-TO-BACK

Eskimos' quarterback Ricky Ray says one pair of back-to-backs a year ought to be the limit.

"I love the Labour Day game in Calgary followed by the Friday game in Edmonton," said Ray. "But I think the rest of them take away from those special games and I think it's better for everybody, the players and the fans, when you play one team in the first half of the schedule and play that team again in the second half of the schedule."

Schedule reform. Bring it on.


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