"The buzz among many CFL coaches and general managers right now is that the league is suffering from a lack of quality Canadian players.As noted, it was just last weekend the 'Riders had 10 Canadians on offence in a big game. Naylor gets some benefit of the doubt. He's pound-for-pound the best sports reporter in Canada and he's not saying Canadians cannot play football, it's just there's a drop-off once you get past the first rank. He qualified his statement.
"By this they don’t mean there aren’t good Canadians making plays week-in and week-out. They mean teams are having trouble finding 20 Canadians who can play football at the professional level, once the injury factor has played out by this time of the year.
"... (M)any in the CFL believe that before the league proceeds with expansion, it needs to take a good look at the state of the Canadian talent supply. And whether it can really commit to finding 20 more Canadians ready to play. The alternative is to lower the ratio, an position that has always been a non-starter with the CFL Players Association, an organization that is known for putting the 'C' in CFLPA.
One thing not clear is why there seems to be such a shortage of Canadians at this point. Anecdotally, at least, football seems to be growing in Canada with at least two areas in full boom mode – Quebec and B.C. – where the game was barely hanging on 20 years ago.
There are more university teams in Canada than ever before and there seem to be as many or more players making it in the NCAA."
Considering a CFL team's roster is not just the 42 who dress in a given week, but 55-60 when injured players are replaced, he has a point.
On an appearance on Sun TV's The Grill Room in June, CFL commish Mark Cohon speculated the import ratio could be tweaked to help a new Ottawa franchise be more competitive. It's not coming out of left field.
A modest suggestion, of course, is the tail is wagging the dog. The NFL has the NCAA as its free farm system, but Canada does not have that football factory mindset. Other leagues invest in the amateur system to some extent. The CFL should be looking into how it can help augment those grassroots, whether it's through CIS, helping place players at NCAA schools (which used to be commonplace) or through the CJFL.
(This really rated a separate post than being in the land o' linkin', plus it's not time-sensitive. Sorry for waiting till this late in the day!)
Dealing with CFL's shallow pool of CanCon (Naylor's Sideline View)