The greatest Canadian in the history of the Canadian Football League thinks the league could be committing a huge fumble.
The legendary Russ Jackson can't understand why the CFL would dare to think of dropping the number of starting Canadians for each team in each game from seven to four.
"I don't like it," Jackson said yesterday. "There are enough good Canadians in the league that you don't have to do this.
"I have not heard a good reason for it. If you take out Canadian content, you are saying Americans are better, and we have enough good Canadian talent. Canadian kids are quite capable."
The CFL and Players' Association are in preliminary talks toward negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement and among the many issues is that the league reportedly wants to have fewer Canadian starters, ostensibly because it would be cheaper to pay American-born players. The present CBA is due to expire on the day before training camps open in 2010.
Jackson, who was born in Hamilton and quarterbacked the Ottawa Rough Riders to three Grey Cup victories, doesn't buy it.
"Cheaper?" Jackson said. "It's not like we're talking millions of dollars here."
Jim Kardash, who was an offensive lineman for the Argos from 1986-92 and now is a vice-principal in Peel region, added his voice to those who think a decrease in Canadians would be wrong.
"It's nonsensical and a short-sighted view that comes from a position of arrogance," the Brandon, Man., native said. "Reducing the number would be a step backward and (the CFL) would wind up regretting that day."
Kardash has been a summer football coach in southwestern Ontario for years and thought the idea put forth by Eskimos GM Danny Maciocia, who told Sun Media on the weekend there should be a quota on Canadian coaches, was intriguing.
"I tell people it's like apples and oranges," Kardash said. "They're both fruit but they taste different. It's the same with the Canadian and American game. It's football, but it is played differently."
The lack of Canadians, or certainly Canadian experience, on their coaching staff hurt the Argos in 2009. Head coach Bart Andrus was asked yesterday how quickly the autopsy on the season begins.
"We're going to go right into it," Andrus said. "We want to get our coaches out of here for the U.S. Thanksgiving."
That says it all. Only special teams co-ordinator Steve Buratto, defensive co-ordinator Pete Kuharchek (one year) and linebackers coach Ed O'Neil (one year) had CFL experience.
"I think we had enough," Andrus said. "The differences, once you get past the (initial) three or four weeks ... I am pretty used to the game now."