Early talent identification key for the Canadian QB — Forde

It was mentioned a while back that Vanier Cup MVP Danny Brannagan staying on the Toronto Argonauts practice roster was another crack in the CFL's glass ceiling for Canadian quarterbacks.

It just so happens the Edmonton Journal is running a 3-part series on the future for Canuck passers (the first installment was a look back). Duane Forde, the TSN analyst, had a couple salient points:
"Suddenly the level of competition (in CIS football) has gone up and I think people around the CFL are starting to take notice, realizing there is some potential there.

"From here I think it's a matter of figuring out a system to give those kids a chance to make it in the CFL.

"Look at the situation in Toronto, where Danny Brannagan got to training camp and has ended up on the practice roster. But Danny Brannagan was an undrafted guy that went there after his fifth year of university. If he didn't make it, he has no other place to go.

"What I would love to see is for the CFL to start identifying the top quarterbacks in the country after their second or third years and give these kids an opportunity, even though they are not draft-eligible yet, to get into CFL training camps and not make up for all that learning in a two-week or three-week camp."
That is similar to the chance Ottawa Gee-Gees QB Brad Sinopoli had with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats this spring. Forde alluded to the fact U.S. quarterbacks are always going to be more desirous to the CFL, since they have certain inborn advantages:
"You see more kids who are playing football in Canada taking advantage of the resources south of the border. Meaning going to camps, some even going to schools in situations where it means playing in warmer climates, a situation where you can throw the ball year-round, which means you're getting more reps — one of the reasons I think that have held Canadian quarterbacks back."
That does not mean the CFL shouldn't at least consider some means to try and close the gap.

The lack of a Canadian QB hasn't hurt the CFL's bottom line — has it caused anyone to not buy tickets or watch on TV? It's just that the current conditions, as Forde elucidated, mean a CIS quarterback has a better chance of throwing a pass through the eye of a needle than getting on a CFL dress roster.

It would be nice, for lack of a more profound way to say it, if the league did more to help encourage the next great Canadian hope. Evaluating CIS passers earlier in their careers seems like part of the solution.

Canuck QBs' day will come; TSN's Forde thinks the key is for prospects to cast a glance to the south (Mario Annicchiarico, Edmonton Journal)
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  1. I like Duane Forde's CFL work a lot, but how can he possibly know that the lack of a CFL QB hasn't hurt the CFL's bottom line? None of us knows, simply because we haven't had a Canadian QB for ages. Just the fact that people keep talking about it leads me to believe that a Canadian QB, when it happens (and it will happen eventually), will be good for the CFL's bottom line if the QB is successful.

  2. Mr. Forde didn't say that, I said it.

    You're right, we can't possibly know. It's an opinion based on the fact the league hasn't had a Canadian QB for ages and it hasn't gone out of business. Ratings and corporate sponsorship have increased.

    The franchises that have struggled have done so largely due to bad football or bad business practices, or just shifting cultural tastes (thinking of the East).

  3. You don't think corporate sponsorship would increase with a standout Canadian QB on a couple of teams?

    Ratings may be going up presently, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't go up more with a Canadian pivot.

    You're right that the league hasn't gone out of business, but teams in Ottawa and Montreal have. A good, French Canadian, QB in a city like Quebec, if they added a team, would undeniably be huge for the league and that city. As a Saskatchewan resident, I can tell you, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Rider Nation takes great pride in it's Canadian players, and they would be wild with excitement to have a kid, from our province, succeed as a quarterback. They would have no problem selling additional seats in a new stadium, and they would increase merch revenues even more.

  4. Excerpt from a P. James column:
    Last week Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote an interesting column about "paycheque envy" in the CFL. Tait, the Bombers beat writer, pointed out that Kobe Bryant makes almost as much each season as every player in the CFL combined.

    I think the CFL can do a lot of things to increase its popularity and appeal to Canadians... And QB's is one of the keys....

  5. I think we're all pretty close on this. It would be great if it happened. The league, though, has a lot of work to do to make it happen. Without that investment, it's going to be very difficult.

    Vic, each of your examples (Montreal and Saskatchewan) are good ones. I am not "refudiating" it but those are two of the most popular franchises around. How much higher is their ceiling for selling tickets?

    Toronto would be the extreme example at the other end of the spectrum. If Brannagan or another quarterback with Ontario roots was brought along and became the starter, would their attendance jump from 20,000 to 30,000? Hard to say.

    That brings it back to Point One -- we don't know because we haven't seen it.

    What we have seen is the way it's set up now isn't working, and the CFL should address that.

  6. What's the situation (try to refrain for referencing Jersy Shore . . . please) with Faulds and Groulx? Last I heard they were transitioning into coordinator roles at the college level.