Bye-weeks for divisions work

IAN BUSBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:52 AM ET

In the grand scheme of things, the necessary CFL bye-week has worked smoothly the past two seasons.

The method used in the past -- and the one that will be used in the future -- of having one division sit idle for one week while the other plays is ideal.

When the CFL adds another team and makes it nine franchises total, which it had for three seasons earlier this decade, the schedule takes a massive beating. Each week, someone must be left off the sked, or someone must play two games in a span of five days or so.

In 2005, the Calgary Stampeders broke camp and then took a break in Week 1. Boy, were they tired.

That same season, the woeful Winnipeg Blue Bombers had a bye in the final week and could pack up for the off-season before the regular season had officially ended.

When Ottawa returns to the league, the typically wonky schedule gets even more crazy. So the Bombers getting a 17-day break right now, or the Hamilton Tiger-Cats getting 18 days off at the end of August, won't seem like such a big deal.

With Ottawa's return not likely until 2010, the thoughts of getting a 10th team to balance it out again won't come for a few years afterwards.

"It's part of the quirkiness of the league and part of the history," said CFL commissioner Mark Cohon during a recent trip to Calgary. "We did it in the past, and we will deal with it again.

"Before we expand to the next market, we have to make sure the business model works in all markets. If you are splitting league revenues between all these teams, we need to make sure they are all strong."

Opening drive

So the NFL came to Toronto and the Argonauts folded. The franchise isn't in trouble, but one night after the Rogers Centre hosted the Bills vs. Steelers, the Argos laid a stinker against the Alouettes. There was little buzz about the NFL pre-season tilt outside the Greater Toronto Area and not much in the city considering the amount of stories that circulated about ticket giveaways. Still, the Argos need to keep putting a good product on the field to battle the NFL invasion ... With the Argos in second place in the East Division at 3-5, there is a chance the East semifinal host could have a worse record than its West Division crossover opponent ... Nobody should question Avon Cobourne's goal of hitting 1,000 yards in both receiving and rushing this season. The Als running back is back on pace for both, which would be CFL history. But how about Argos QB-WR Reggie McNeal reaching 1,000 yards receiving, then taking over at QB and throwing for another 1,000?

Endzone toss

The Eskimos have added some help in the secondary Justin time. Former Tiger-Cats and Roughriders DB Airabin Justin was cut by the Riders a little more than a month ago and could make his debut for the Esks this week against his former team. The Eskimos are hurting in the secondary with Trey Young and Jonte Buhl both hobbled ... The Lions have further muddied their running back picture by signing former Cincinnati Bengals RB Terrence Whitehead. Last year's CFL rushing leader Joe Smith is still with the Lions and continues to be a healthy scratch as Stefan Logan carries the mail. Whitehead, an Oregon product, spent the 2006 season on the Bengals injured list ... Stamps LB JoJuan Armour returned to the practice field with the team after a roller-coaster three weeks before the bye. Armour sat out a game in Winnipeg with an adductor injury, was ejected for hitting an official against the Riders and then left the rematch in Regina with a hip injury.

Extra points

In the Stamps-Lions tilt this Friday, the starting left tackles have an odd thing in common. Both Lions' Rob Murphy and Stamps' Ben Archibald are imports, but the most interesting thing is both are new fathers to triplets ... The winner of the 2008 Wally Buono Award for top junior football player is Calgary Colts WR Cassidy Doneff, who spent much of last season practising with the Stamps. Doneff is now at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.

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RANKINGS

(With previous week in brackets)

1. (1) Saskatchewan -- Bye week gave defending champs a chance to heal.

2. (2) B.C. -- Going forward without running back Joe Smith.

3. (5) Montreal -- Clearly beasts of east.

4. (3) Calgary -- Need to get over ills in Vancouver.

5. (4) Edmonton -- Adding to ailing secondary.

6. (8) Winnipeg -- Some growing pains, but Kevin Glenn gets it done.

7. (8) Hamilton -- They have the makings of an exciting team, but need to grow.

8. (7) Toronto -- Will Michael Bishop finally take over?


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