CFL is feeling optimistic

TERRY KOSHAN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Uncertainty is the new black as the economy tanks, but Canadian Football League commissioner Mark Cohon isn't expecting the eight teams in the CFL to come to him with caps in hand this week.

The league's annual Congress gets underway tomorrow in Hamilton and will include a coach-of-the-year luncheon (the nominees are John Hufnagel of the Calgary Stampeders, Ken Miller of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Marc Trestman of the Montreal Alouettes) and a meeting of the league's rules committee. The Congress is the league's way of getting everyone together -- from front-office staff to coaches to marketing staff to athletic therapists to team presidents -- at one time so ideas can be swapped and dissected. There's a chance a trade or two could go down in the next few days.

"I don't want to look at this through rose-coloured glasses, but things are going well," Cohon said. "Season-ticket renewals are going well. We're an affordable league rooted in tradition, and fans recognize that. With our league on the upswing, but the economy struggling, what we do at Congress this year is particularly important to our success."

The rules committee should be prepared to be busy. Though decisions on rule changes won't be made until the board of governors meetings in the spring, league staff has been sorting through thousands of e-mails from fans. The league, for the first time, invited those who go through the turnstiles to submit rule changes and other ideas.

CHANGES COMING

"I don't necessarily think we're going to change all the rules of the CFL," Argos general manager Adam Rita said. "But I think we play the game for the fans and this gives them a chance to try to do something."

Said Hamilton Tiger-Cats GM Bob O'Billovich: "We're sure to see a few wrinkles."

Rita and the Argos will take one rule-change proposal to the committee. In the final three minutes of a first half or the final three minutes of a game, the Argos would like to see a team kick off after booting a field goal. As it stands, a team that gives up a field goal has a choice of scrimmaging from its own 35-yard line or taking a kickoff. It usually scrimmages from the 35.

"We think it's something that would enhance the game," Rita said.

"This game is about scoring points. Now, the team that has given up a field goal would have to be ready for the possibility of an on-side kick."

Meanwhile, Rita said, no decision has been made on the future of offensive guard Jude St. John. The 14-year veteran does not want to retire, and for now, remains on the Argos roster "until further notice," Rita said.


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