CFL circus barrel of fun

PAUL FRIESEN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:32 AM ET

The best thing about the CFL at this time of year? The intrigue.

Everything a quarterback says and does is magnified, coaching decisions are analyzed to death and the competition reaches a fever pitch.

Oh, and the actual games aren't bad, either.

In case you hadn't noticed, the East and West Finals this Sunday aren't the only games being played in our favourite, nine-team loop.

Sometimes, the behind-the-scenes drama is just as entertaining as the stuff that happens on the field.

For instance, the annual coaching carousel is already spinning at full speed, with more than a dozen empty seats on it.

That number that could go higher, depending on whether the good folks in Saskatchewan have grown tired of the Roy Shivers-Danny Barrett act.

It also appears a new feature to the CFL's winter carnival this year will be a quarterback merry-go-round the likes of which we haven't seen in a long time.

No less than five teams -- Hamilton, Ottawa, B.C., Saskatchewan and Edmonton -- should make major pivotal moves over the next few months. The Blue Bombers could make it six, if they decide they need a marquee name in a year they host the Grey Cup.

As you can see, participation in the playoffs is not a prerequisite for playing this game. Generally, it's the opposite: if you missed the trip to the playoffs, you're taking a trip to the circus.

The Bombers will take in as many as 10 acts over the next two weeks, in their search for the best man who's not currently a head coach.

But if you think the search for Jim Daley's successor is as simple as choosing the best candidate, forget it.

You see, one of the Bombers' top choices, Calgary defensive whiz Denny Creehan, says he's been promised the top job in Cowtown for next season.

If that promise is kept, we can assume Creehan is out of the mix (given a choice between the up-and-coming Stamps and the stumbling Bombers right now, which would you take?).

Of course, all that could change should Creehan be snubbed in Calgary, and then wouldn't his taking the Bomber gig make for some rather interesting matches against the Stamps?

Or, the Bombers could add some spice to games against Edmonton by hiring former Ottawa defensive guru Greg Marshall, passed over by the Eskimos in favour of Danny Maciocia during last winter's carousel.

The competition is enormous, though: Ottawa head coach John Jenkins is still looking to round out his staff, while the Tiger-Cats are in the market for offensive help. And, again, who knows what's going to happen in Regina?

Which brings us to the quarterbacks.

If Shivers and Barrett don't think the Roughriders need a new starter, Gang Green better find a GM and coach who do.

Not only are Marcus Crandell and Nealon Greene not making anybody forget about Henry Burris or Kent Austin, they're reminding people of Marvin Graves and Warren Jones.

Elsewhere, Kerry Joseph's time appears to have run out in Ottawa, likewise Casey Printers' in B.C. and Danny McManus's in Hamilton.

The most intriguing plot, though, revolves around new playoff hero Jason Maas in Edmonton, who probably won't even be in that city next season.

Arguably the most important cog in Edmonton's push for a Grey Cup, Maas is likely headed to Hamilton to complete the lopsided (at the time) trade that sent running back Troy Davis and O-lineman Dan Comiskey to the Esks.

Of course, the Ticats could always resume their pursuit of Printers, instead, allowing the Bombers and Saskatchewan to compete for Maas and Joseph.

Pull up a chair and enjoy.

The CFL circus hasn't looked this good in years.


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