If the CFL playoffs started today, we would once again see a Western Division team cross over to the East.
Since the crossover playoff format was introduced by the league in 1996, there have been nine teams over the last 21 seasons to cross over into the other division for the post-season.
Let me rephrase that — there have been nine Western teams that have crossed over to the East since the rule came into effect just over two decades ago.
Never has a team from the East Division crossed over to the West for a run to the Grey Cup.
CFL crossover playoff teams:
1997 B.C. Lions
2002 Saskatchewan Roughriders
2003 B.C. Lions
2005 Saskatchewan Roughriders
2008 Edmonton Eskimos
2009 B.C. Lions
2012 Edmonton Eskimos
2014 B.C. Lions
2016 Edmonton Eskimos
The crossover was originally brought in for two reasons: to prevent a team with an inferior record in one division to make the playoffs ahead of a club with a better record in the other division; and more importantly, to keep more teams (and especially their fans) engaged in the playoff hunt right up until the final week or two of the regular season.
Even so, you can’t blame CFL fans, at least those cheering for Western teams, for wanting the league to analyze its current playoff format.
There are a number of ways the league can tweak the system.
One option could be to keep the East-West format and the crossover spot, then re-seed the playoff teams after the regular season and give the top two clubs a bye into the semi-finals.
Or the league could ditch the crossover, enable the top three teams in each division to get in, then re-seed and play on as they would in option 1.
The most radical change the league can undertake would be to eliminate the two-division format and establish one division, with the top six teams advancing to the playoffs.
The thought is intriguing, but if Eastern teams continue to languish behind their Western counterparts, fans of those struggling teams could lose interest well before the season ends.
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