Christmas came early for CFL fans as the league released its 2018 schedule in mid-December, almost two months before it has normally been released. Obviously, that means Ticats fans now know when and where there team will play in 2018, but how good is their schedule? What is there to like and dislike? Let’s take a look.
Like: Saturday afternoon’s all right for playing
A year after the team hosted zero games on Saturday, the Ticats rectified that by hosting five Saturday games, four of which kick off at 4pm.
Hamilton’s two home Thursday games are one more than they had last year, but I will gladly trade an additional Thursday game for all those Saturday games.
Dislike: Labour Day? More like Labour Night
After last year’s Labour Day catastrophe — in case you forget, a lightning storm delayed the game over two hours and it didn’t end until nearly midnight — I was hoping that would end the two-year experiment of a 6:30pm start time for the Classic. Sadly, we will once again endure a very late game between the Argos and Ticats on the first Monday of September. Odin help the CFL if another weather delay happens.
Like: Welcome back, rematch
One correction the league did make was reinstating the Labour Day Classic rematch between the Argos and Ticats. If teams are going to play on short rest, playing against one another is the best way to go.
Like: Bye week spacing
Last year, Hamilton’s two bye weeks occurred in the first 10 weeks of the season. It forced the team to play the final 10 weeks of the year without any rest (it didn’t seem to hurt them as they won six of their final 10 games, but that’s not the point). This year, the Ticats’ byes are in Weeks 5, 10 and 17. That’s about as close to perfect as you can get.
Like: Front-loaded vs. the West
A lot will be made of Hamilton’s West-heavy early season — their first five, and seven of their first nine, games against against foes from the West Division — but I think playing those games early is better than playing them late. If you drop a couple to Western teams, it’s not as bad as doing so to your division rivals. Considering Hamilton has gotten off to slow starts pretty much every year for the last 15 years, taking those Ls against teams from the West is better than taking them from teams in the East.
Plus, if the Ticats can navigate that tough opening stretch and head into Labour Day at, say, 4-5, it bodes well for them in the back half of the season.
Like: Back-loaded vs. the East
Speaking of the back half, this is where things get really good. Hamilton’s final four games are against all Eastern foes, with a back-to-back series with the Redblacks sandwiched between games against the Argos and Alouettes.
To make matters even better, Hamilton travels outside the eastern timezone once after August 10. That makes for a team whose internal clocks will not be messed up during the crucial stretch drive.
Like: Short rest a thing of the past
Last, but certainly not least, the extending of the season by a week has made games on short rest nearly non-existent. The only time Hamilton plays a game less than six days after their previous one is in the Labour Day rematch against the Argos, and both teams are coming in on the same rest, so no one gets an advantage. As Curt Hennig would say, “absolutely perfect.”
As you can see by the tally, there was a lot more to like about this schedule than dislike. It really feels like the addition of the third bye week has allowed the league to put together a schedule that is as close to perfect as we are ever going to get.
I am sure there will some that find fault with what the league put out on Thursday, but those people would probably also be mad if it was announced that every game was being played personally for them in their backyard.
I think if you find fault with this schedule, no schedule would have made you happy. This is a great schedule from a fan’s point of a view and from the team’s point of view.
Now, the only problem we have is that June isn’t here yet. But at least we know where we will be when it finally does arrive.
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