CFL Pass

“CFL Around the Table” debuts on TSN – Now give us more!

There aren’t many television shows that give me the feeling that both episodes of TSN’s new series “CFL Around the Table” gave me last night: They made me want *more*. Each episode could have easily been an hour long and I would have still wanted to sit and watch these great minds from the Canadian Football League talk even more.

The thing I enjoyed most about “CFL Around the Table” was the relaxed setting and feel of it all. The only other times we see general managers and coaches from the league are when they’re standing at a podium or within a media scrum with dozens of microphones in their faces. I felt like a fly on a wall watching an amazing conversation.

Episode 1 featured various general managers from around the Canadian Football League – the masterminds behind four of the past five Grey Cups. I loved watching Wally Buono (BC Lions), Brendan Taman (Saskatchewan Roughriders), Jim Popp (Montreal Alouettes), and Jim Barker (Toronto Argonauts) speak about the challenges facing CFL GMs.

Recently, Wally Buono made the difficult decision to part ways with 23-year CFL veteran kicker Paul McCallum and many fans were rubbed the wrong way.  


After watching “Around the Table”, it becomes easier to sympathize with the men that have to make difficult decisions like letting a Hall of Fame player go. Wally did the same thing with BC Lions legend Geroy Simon in 2013 – a tough decision but one that had to be made for the Lions. (By the way, did Wally remind anyone else of this guy?)

It was really cool to hear Jim Barker talk about the CFL’s relationship with the fans near the end of Episode 1. That’s the *exact* reason I am attending my seventh consecutive Grey Cup in November – there’s nothing like it. If you’re a fan of the CFL at all, you need to do yourself a favour and attend the big game and all its festivities. Lions, Argos, TiCats and Riders fans celebrating the game they love? Only at the Grey Cup.

Episode 2 featured four coaches that have all won Coach of the Year honours in the CFL. John Hufnagel and Kent Austin, who battled in the Grey Cup last year, along with Corey Chamblin and Scott Milanovich discussed their respective challenges of being a head coach.

Since Kent Austin returned from coaching college football in the United States to coach the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, he hasn’t always been in the best of moods – he could actually be kind of a jerk at times. Who could blame him, really, since he’s been on the losing side of two consecutive Grey Cups.

Austin was in an entirely different mood for “Around the Table” and after watching, I have a lot more respect for what coaches go through on a daily basis. It is a high stress job with long, hard hours and it takes a toll on a person. He spoke openly on how the game of football has taken its toll on his family.

Chamblin, Hufnagel and Milanovich seemed to know exactly what Kent has been through, too. Long hours at the office, constantly running plays through their heads -- it has to be difficult to think anything but football.

Episode 3 of “CFL Around the Table” will be featuring the players with Chad Owens, Ricky Foley, Drew Willy and Darian Durant discussing 2015’s rule changes and it looks like it’s going to be a fun one. I know I’ll be watching when TSN airs that one.

– written by Travis Currah