Sunday, January 31, 2010

Moncton Game and Milanovich Stays

Since the schedule comes out tomorrow, I thought I would try predicting Toronto's opponent in the Moncton game. It definitely won't be Saskatchewan due to their drawing power, and similarly won't be Hamilton or Montreal, even though Moncton might prefer the Alouettes. That leaves the Peg, Edmonton, Calgary or BC. I'm not sure if the league is willing to have an interdivisional rival as the opponent, other wise it could well be Winnipeg since they drew poorly at Dead Ted's Dome last year. I will guess BC, mainly because the timezone difference will be humorous.

Also on the CFL main page it now says Montreal offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich will stay with Montreal. So now I have no idea who Toronto is going to hire. Weird, but Toronto is a pretty messed up team right now.

Ticats Opener, July 2nd At The Peg

Hamilton opens in Winnipeg on Friday, July 2nd. Montreal travels to Riderville for a rematch of the last game of 2009 on Canada Day, while Toronto goes to Calgary the same day, no doubt to get massacred. BC goes to Edmonton on the Sunday for some Printers versus Ray action.

This is a pretty decent matchup for the Cats as their first game. They get a chance for a valuable road win against what will likely be a weak Bomber team, especially earlier in the year. Major coaching changes, plus having Michael Bishop as the starter probably will lead to a feeble offence. Of course the players could be so glad to get rid of Mike Kelly they could actually play well. We'll see what the opening line is.

The full schedule is out on Monday and I will have an analysis when it comes out, although it might not be much more than "hey the Cats are at home on Labour Day against the Argos." One thing to look for is where the league places the away Rider games. For pretty much every team in the league this is a guaranteed draw so the other teams will probably want to have the Rider game on a good day. For instance, the Cats would probably like the Riders game to be later in the year (like last year's final home game, which drew 24586 fans, the second most after Labour Day), when drawing can be tough. The Cats would probably prefer the Argos not be their home opener, as the opener is a draw itself. From a ticket selling perspective, the Lions wouldn't be a bad opponent, as they tend to draw poorly, especially if the Cats can win in week one.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

BC Moves, Brent Johnson Signed, Glatt and Jimenez Released

TSN is reporting some BC roster moves. Non-import defensive end Brent Johnson was resigned. Johnson is on the downside to his career with only six sacks last season, but his non-import status and the possibility of losing Ricky Foley made this a necessary signing. Non-import linebacker Glatt is a bit of a surprise. He lost his starting position last year after Cobb lit up the Lions run defence like the CN Tower at night a couple of times last year, but one would figure he would be kept for depth and special teams. I doubt the Cats would sign him, but the Torontos and Winnipegs of the league might (especially Toronto to back up Kevin Eiben). Jimenez was once good, but in the CFL game import offensive linemen get released quickly if they lose even a little bit of a step. There's no sentimentality in football, that's for sure.

Setta Punted

Wow. Drew Edwards reported in today's Spec that the Cats have released K/P Nick Setta after three years with the team. Didn't expect for that to happen, although as the article states, with Ito being brought in at the end of the year, it wasn't like there was no foreshadowing. One wonders about the nature of Setta's injuries at the beginning of the year as obviously they contributed to him losing the job.

Going into next year it looks like Ito is in the driver's seat for both the kicker and punter jobs, although Tigercatatonia wonders if any Canadians will be considered for what are traditionally non-import jobs. Guelph's Rob Maver looks to be the next great Canadian kicker/punter, but with no first round draft pick, the Cats are unlikely to be get ahold of him without a trade.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Ricky Foley

According to this article from the Vancouver Sun, BC non-import defensive end Ricky Foley will work out for the NY Jets and could be the next CFLer to head down to the NFL. This would certainly be unfortunate for the Lions as one could make an argument that Foley is the most valuable non-quarterback player in the CFL. Foley led the league with 12 sacks and more critically is a Canadian in a typically import position, and at 27 with only one year of starting is still in his prime. More strangely, he played his university ball at OUA joke York.

Saskatchewan defensive end John Chick has already signed with the Colts and Foley mentions that Rider defensive lineman Stevie Baggs will also probably sign in the NFL. Devastating for the Riders and Lions and thus it could end up next year Hamilton's somewhat anonymous defensive line (which is in no danger of losing players to the NFL) could end up being one of the league's better units.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Pigskin Pete, Earlier Incarnation

Here's a picture of the previous Pigskin Pete that I snapped near my seat at the Halloween Saskatchewan game. Still capable of getting the crowd riled up. Also received an email from the Cats today as a season ticket holder. Forty percent off in the store in February for season ticket holders, plus they announced the "In the Trenches Seats,", available as a pair for $2250 each. They seem to be located at field level between the player benches. Nice, but I think the box seats are a better value.

Also the league apparently wants more rule change suggestions, specifically the overtime format. Pushing the teams back a bit initially might not be bad, but I'm OK with overtime format as it is, notwithstanding the loss in the playoff game to Casey Printers of all people.

CFL Attendance 2010 Analysis

New warning! The new 2011 CFL attendance analysis post is here!

Warning! This post actually analyzes the CFL attendance for 2009. For analysis of the 2010 season including the best road drawing teams, go here.

Last year Tigercatatonia made several posts analyzing the 2008 attendance for CFL teams. Time has come around again to have a look again. We'll start out with the average home regular season attendance for each team in 2009:

1. Edmonton 37,164
2. Calgary 36502
3. Saskatchewan 30606
4. BC 28610
5. Toronto 26374
6. Winnipeg 25720
7. Hamilton 22532
8. Montreal 20202
Total 227,710
Here's the numbers from the previous season:

Edmonton 37383
BC 34083
Calgary 32617
Saskatchewan 29758
Toronto 29189
Winnipeg 27151
Hamilton 20784
Montreal 20202
Total 231,167

Thus 2009 was not a particular banner year for the CFL. BC was way way down, with both Winnipeg and Toronto seeing declines. Edmonton had a slight decline, despite a monster attendance game of over 62,000 against Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan had a bump, as did Calgary with the extra capacity for the Grey Cup available late in the season.

Surprisingly Hamilton had a decent 8.4% jump. Probably the cheap tickets the team made available at the end of the 2009 season helped, as did the Labour Day sellout with over 30,000, plus a much better team. Likely the Cats could have done better with a better economy. With momentum of a better team and a slowly recovering economy hopefully the Cats can boost season tickets sales over last year and get another bump in attendance.

Montreal stayed the same, due to selling out their capacity yet again. With an added 5,000 seats this season at McGill stadium, Montreal will likely beat Hamilton in attendance this year.

Overall the CFL saw a 4.1% decline in attendance in 2009, which isn't too bad considering the economy and the performance of other professional leagues in North America. Baseball for instance had a larger 6.5% decline in 2009.

In a future post, I will look again at which teams drew the best on the road. Here's my analysis for the 2008 season. I'm going to go way out on a limb and predict Saskatchewan will again lead this category.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Joe Mack Hired as Winnipeg GM

Word from the Winnipeg Free Press that Joe Mack has been hired as the Winnipeg GM. Or more accurately the "vice-president of football operations." Everybody's a vice-president these days. Call me crazy, but hiring a general manager who last worked in the CFL in 1987 seems to be something that might not work out so hot, although he will probably be better than Adam Rita.

Another article from the Press about Greg Marshall, that makes the point that at some point the Cats might want to get a commitment from Marshall so they could get on with their own search for a new defensive coordinator. One interesting fact from the article is that it seems Marshall may live in Burlington (or was just in Burlington when the reported called, enjoying the awesomeness of the Boring City). Shades of Theresa Cascioli there. Tigercatatonia thinks that both the Mayor of Hamilton and the defensive coordinator of the Ticats should live in Hamilton, preferably within stumbling distance of the Prince Edward Tavern.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mike Kelly, Free Man

Looks like Mike Kelly will be walking away a free man from his domestic dispute, provided he finishes an anger management course. That's probably the last we will hear from Kelly for a while. Hopefully some new half-wit will emerge this season to entertain us. The CFL needs its Frank D'Angelos and Mike Kellys.

TSN also has a long column about the option year window for CFL players to sign in the NFL. For me, it is not a big issue, although if I were a Rider fan and just lost John Chick I would probably be more annoyed. It is small number of players and not all of them are even that effective in the CFL.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Mike Kelly Gets Settlement from Bombers

Shades of Dalton McGuinty and various canned crown corporation heads with the news that supposedly fired former Winnipeg head coach and quote machine Mike Kelly has reached a settlement (for perhaps $160,000 according to the Winnipeg Free Press) with the Bombers. Kelly had two years left on his contract. Sadly Kelly had no comment on the settlement which is disappointing because it would have been assuredly amusing.

Here's an image of Kelly's booking photo for his domestic charge in December, complete with Kelly in a Sopranoish tracksuit.

New Stadium Location

I happened to be listening to Billy Kelly's show on CHML recently and he was discussing the new stadium with regards to the city having to get moving if it is going to be complete for the Pan Am games. Kelly has always liked Confederation Park as the site and frequently goes on about that site not even being on the current list of possibilities. That got me thinking about an issue that probably doesn't interest anyone but Tigercatatonia, namely which hotels CFL teams use when they visit Hamiliton. A lot of teams use Burlington hotels even though they have to get to Ivor Wynne, although I do remember Winnipeg staying at the Sheraton last year, mainly because Mike Kelly said something stupid there. With Confederation Park as the site, it is pretty much guaranteed that CFL teams would use Burlington hotels, not helping a very weak Hamilton hotel market, plus any fans that might be staying overnight would too. If Hamilton is going to help fund the stadium, the city should be looking for maximum spillover benefits. Fixing up the brownfield former Rheem property that otherwise will lay undeveloped for years is another bonus

Argos Free Agent Situation

The Toronto Star's Argos beat reporter and sports media grump Chris Zelkowich has an article about the Argos free agent situation. Probably the most significant signing would be a quarterback, although Zelkowich points out that signing BC's Rickey Foley or Saskatchewan's Stevie Baggs would be possibilities if the Argos want to improve their already decent defensive line. Non-import defensive end Foley (12 sacks in 2009) would be awesome for the Argos ratio situation, but with the Argos ownership in question a big splash seems unlikely. Frankly for the Argos and the league it would probably better for BC Lions owner David Braley to just buy the Argos, right the ship and then sell off one of the two teams after a couple of years.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Argo Coaching Position

Chris Zelkovich had an article in the Star earlier in the week listing the four likely candidates. According to the article, Montreal offensive coordinator Scott Milanovich is the favourite. That makes sense, considering the Argo defence was not good, but not horrible either so go with an offensive guy. Not sure what the Argos will do for quarterback next year, but they better do something. Likely Cats defensive coordinator Greg Marshall ends up in the Peg.

Glenn and Porter Sign Extensions

The Globe and Mail reported that the Cats signed contract extensions with the Cats, so that this year is not there option year. What I wonder is what happens in relation to what Glenn was supposed to be paid this year? He signed last year if I recall for pretty much backup money, so now that I assume he is the de facto starter going into this season he will want to be paid closer to the $400,000 range that quality CFL starting quarterbacks get. Does he get a bump for this season or next season? How does that affect the salary cap for next year in terms of going after free agents?

One thing about Glenn being the starter at beginning of the 2010 season, if he goes cold for the first few games, what happens with Porter? Does Glenn have a huge leash? Will Cat fans suddenly start chanting for Porter (or Tafralis?) A long way away, but next season could have a lot of quarterback drama.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Tillman Story Goes International

Erstwhile Saskatchewan Rough Rider general manager Tillman's has pushed the last week of the regular season for the NFL to the back of the sports pages in the Canadian papers, which in a bad publicity is still better than no publicity way is sort of a win for the CFL. Now the CFL just needs a bunch of wacky things to happen for the next five weeks through the Super Bowl, hopefully culminating with Mike Kelly causing a disturbance in an airport on Superbowl Sunday. Anyways, here's an article from the Phildelphia Daily News with the Tillman story buried at the bottom below such items as Evander Holyfield fighting Francois Botha. Or not fighting, as the match has been postponed due to the fact both fighters are incredibably crotchety.

On a lighter note, here's one person's take on the top CFL players of the past decade. The only Ticats were Joe Montford, and uh, Corey Holmes. Can't really argue with that. It was a sad, sad decade.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Tillman Pleads Guilty to Babysitter Sexual Assault

After what seems like forever, Eric Tillman has apparently plead guilty to sexual assault in an incident involving a babysitter. According to this article in the National Post, Tillman claimed to be under the effect of two different medications. The act as described in the article:

'Crown prosecutor Bill Burge said Tillman pulled "the rear end of the complainant into himself" by putting his fingers in the belt loops on her hips.

"While in that position, there was physical contact that was clearly of a sexual nature," Burge told Judge Murray Hinds, in describing the details of the offence at Regina Provincial Court on Monday morning.'

No word if one of the medications was Viagra or on the future of Tillman's job.