The Second Half
This is the big turn for the CFL, the same post-Labour Day demarcation point between the first half of the season, when the league really has lots of room to get attention, to the second half, which coincides with the commencement of the NFL season and the beginning of NHL training camps.
We've learned much about the eight CFL clubs, but nothing has been decided. Nobody's totally out of it, nobody's home and cooled out. The challenge is that with weak showings so far this season by the clubs in the two biggest markets, Toronto and Vancouver, and with the Jets back in Winnipeg to challenge the Blue Bombers for headlines and coverage, the CFL won't have an easy time keeping eyeballs focussed on it heading towards the Grey Cup in B.C. in November.
The NFL opener last night between the Packers and Saints was a shoot-out thriller, and even the fact that it seemed for some number of weeks that there might not be an NFL season because of labour problems has created more than the usual excitement for that league this fall.
So lots of challenges for the CFL, but that's nothing new, is it? And somehow the CFL always muddles through.
The games have been good but the overall competition great, with Edmonton and Calgary clawing it out atop the west and a good fight brewing between Winnipeg, Hamilton and Montreal for top spot in the east.
So this week's games, the back end to the quartet of matches last week, offer a compelling beginning to the the second half.
The Stamps and Esks go at it again, as do Saskatchewan and the "Peg after the Riders, having already fired their head coach this season after consecutive appearances in the Grey Cup game, beat the first-place Bombers a week ago.
The Tiger-Cats and Als, less than a week after the Cats embarrassed Montreal on Labour Day, should be a doozy. And in Vancouver we'll get our first look at Steve Jyles as the new quarterback saviour of the sad sack Argonauts after all the commotion this week that accompanied the release of No. 1 signal caller Cleo Lemon.
Was Jyles, who had good numbers with 19 touchdowns against only nine interceptions last year in Winnipeg, just a good stats QB on a bad team, or were those numbers evidence of a young passer now poised to become a bona fide starter in the league?
The second Braley Bowl in two weeks will supply some early answers.