CFL APPROVES RULES CHANGES SUGGESTED BY FANS
Board of Governors approves changes to safety touch and field goals, potential third challenge, and use of "wildcat" formations
Toronto, Ontario (May 11, 2009) -- The Canadian Football League is running with some rule changes first suggested by its' fans.
Today the CFL Board of Governors approved:
• Moving back the kickoff following a safety touch, to reduce the number of times a team chooses to take a knee in its own end zone;
• Giving coaches the green light to use so called "wildcat" formations that would move the quarterback around, instead of requiring him to stand behind or under centre;
• Requiring a team that kicks a successful field goal to then kick off to its' opponents, increasing the number of kick returns;
• Awarding a team a third instant replay challenge if its' first two challenges are successful.
All four ideas were approved in March by the league's rules committee, and were among those brought forward by CFL fans this past off-season after Commissioner Mark Cohon asked for their input.
"It's exciting to know that some of our fans will see their ideas in action when our season kicks off on Canada Day, July 1st," Cohon said today.
"Our Board of Governors values our fans from coast to coast, and was very supportive of including them in our process. That support was evident in their vote today."
This year marked the first time CFL fans were invited to submit their ideas for rules changes. More than 2,000 submissions were received, most of them detailed and all of them passionate about the game and how it's played.
Several fans wanted some sort of change made to the safety touch, citing coaches' tendency to surrender two points in their own end zone to preserve field position, instead of punting the ball away to their opponents, which could set up a kick return or offensive drive with a high chance of scoring.
The Board has approved moving the kickoff following a safety back, from the 35 yard line to the 25 yard line, which could encourage more coaches to kick the ball away rather than take a knee in the end zone.
Other fans called for the introduction of the so-called "wildcat formation," which would require a change to the CFL rule that required the quarterback to always line up under or behind the centre of the offensive line.
The Board has approved allowing the quarterback to move to other spots in a formation, including at wide receiver, before the ball is snapped.
Fans generally wanted to see more kick returns, citing a return that goes for a touchdown as one of the most exciting plays in Canadian football.
The Board has approved requiring a kick off after every made field goal, instead of giving the receiving the team the option of scrimmaging from their 35-yard-line.
It also approved awarding a team with a third challenge of an official's call using replay if its' first two challenges are successful.
CFL training camps open June 7th, with pre-season games scheduled for June 17th and June 23rd. The 2009 regular season kicks off on Canada Day, Wednesday July 1st, with the Toronto Argonauts visiting the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at 7:00 p.m. ET, and the Montreal Alouettes visiting the Calgary Stampeders at 10:00 p.m. ET, in a rematch of the 2008 Grey Cup game. All regular season and playoff games, as well as the Grey Cup, are broadcast on TSN.