Rough ride in Ottawa?

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:58 AM ET

The CFL community is buzzing with excitement over three apparent groups being interested in reviving football in Ottawa - but this entire process to find a new owner likely means nothing unless the league's top executives allow the team a legitimate opportunity to be competitive.

Some CFL insiders are already confidently predicting that football will be back in the nation's capital next year.

However, the Ottawa team will have very little chance - if any - to survive if it can only produce two or three wins per season in its first few years.

The hardcore fan base in the region is probably too small and the casual fan base too frustrated to withstand abysmal records.

While it's unclear what the rules will be for stocking an Ottawa franchise with talent - if one gets off the ground - here's a passionate plea to the CFL's brain trust: don't make the same mistake as last time.

When the Renegades built their initial roster in 2002, their management had its hands tied with the expansion draft rules, which allowed every existing team to protect nearly every starting Canadian.

Obviously, the keys to building a great CFL team are a top-notch quarterback and an outstanding group of Canadian talent.

So, the draft rules used in 2002 - which hardly left any decent non-import talent available - need to be scrapped.

Here's a suggestion of the rules a new Ottawa team could live by, which could definitely make the franchise competitive in the first two years and on the same page as everyone after Year 3.

Rule 1: Don't make Canadians part of the expansion draft. Every current team keeps their non-import talent, making existing member clubs happy. It's also a concession to them because the rest of the rules are different for Ottawa.

Rule 2: Let the new team build Canadian talent through free agency and the college draft by giving the club the first two picks in every round in 2007.

Rule 3: Give Ottawa a three-year phase-in on Canadian talent. Allow the coach to only dress 12 non-imports in Year 1, 16 in Year 2 and the regular allotment of 20 in Year 3. This allows the franchise to be competitive in the short term with extra Americans and gives the club the necessary time to properly build a complete Canadian base.

Rule 4: Each existing team is allowed to protect 11 imports for a two-round draft.

FINISH LINES: One of the three groups - a U.S. consortium of eight-to-10 investors - has apparently agreed to pay $100,000 to former owner Horn Chen for the rights to the Rough Rider name. The Golden Gate bid, with local icon Jeff Hunt, is also apparently interested in the name. No word on the current intentions of the other bidder - Frank D'Angelo ... According to a report, the CFL will apparently enter a 30-day negotiation window with the three interested parties on Sept. 11.


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