Let’s talk about “The Quota” – A CFL team may dress up to 44 players, composed of 21 “nationals” (essentially, Canadians), 20 “internationals” (almost exclusively Americans), and 3 quarterbacks. Around 50% of the players need to be Canadian. Okay so what does that mean? And why were the Canadians so freaked out about losing the Quota or keeping? It basically boils down to math – and Canada being on the losing side of the math equation – Also before I get too far off in the weeds Canadians want to see Canadians in the CFL – if the quota is removed the Canadian players in the CFL are gone.
Canada has 37 million people – Texas + Oklahoma have 34 million. Texas and Oklahoma Really care about football – Canada not so much – Hockey is their game. Canada has around 30 U Sports (think Canadian NCAA without the billions of dollars and the corruption) football teams – a few of the U Sports Football teams play in CFL stadiums and a majority play in stadiums that seat under 8,000 fans. Canadian Universities don’t have 80 thousand seat stadiums, Canadian High Schools don’t have 12K seat stadiums like there are in Texas. Most of the Canadian players in the CFL come from these 30 U Sports teams with some coming home to Canada after playing NCAA college football in the states. The talent level in U Sports would be similar to NCAA Division II or the NAIA. U Sports Teams are not going to go head to head with the North Dakotas or Eastern Washington’s of the FCS and definitely not a lower tier NCAA team from the Mountain West or Conference USA. The U Sports football teams are not even close to being on par with FCS (1-AA) conferences like the Big Sky Conference, Colonial Athletic Association or the Missouri Valley. Talent level we are talking NAIA/DIV II. An example of an NAIA School would be something like Concordia University–Nebraska, Indiana Wesleyan University, Southern Oregon University or DIV II Schools like University of Central Oklahoma or Colorado Mesa University. So why does this matter that the U Sports teams are more or less NAIA/Div II in talent level and there are only 30 Canadian Football Schools? Keep in mind there are 96 NAIA football Schools in the USA – 169 Division II teams, 250 Division III teams, 125 NCAA FCS and 130 NCAA FBS. Which gives the USA around 800 college football teams and Canada 30+ college football teams. Texas alone has around 40 college football teams.
If the quota remained in place for a merged CXFL – the Canadian teams would be required to build roughly half their rosters from basically 30+ NAIA/DIV II talent level schools and the American teams could mine the other 800 +/- schools for talent, Big10, SEC, Big Sky, Mountain West etc., it turns into a numbers game. Russia vs the Baltic States in 1940, with Canada playing the role of the Baltic States.
For arguments sake even if you forced XFL teams to use only NAIA and Div II talent the American teams would have a talent advantage because they would have 270 schools to mine talent from and CFL teams would have 30. So if you do the math where the Canadians have to build half the roster from 30 NAIA schools and the XFL teams can use all 800 US schools from the NAIA to the SEC/Big10, the talent differential really starts to show especially over the course of an 18 game season when injuries kick in. Canadian teams need to find injury replacements from those 30 NAIA/DIV II schools and the American teams can plug and play from the 800 American colleges.
This turns into a war of attrition and gets back to the American teams not having to have 50% of the roster DIV II/NAIA talent and being able to have 100% of the roster built from American players from any level of football. This talent differential is huge if Canadian teams have to play x number of Canadians every down and the American teams don’t. If there were a merger even with 3 down rules, the competitive balance would shift South within two or three years as American coaches figured out the 3 down game. This shift would accelerate as the American XFL teams hired experienced CFL coaches, payed the players in USD, lower American Taxes and the players could stay at home or close to home in the States as opposed to venturing up north.
Huge advantages to the American teams and it gets back to the size of the talent base you are drawing from as well as the talent level of the players in the player pool. Both would be heavily skewed toward the Americans – 800 schools providing a player pool from all classification and talent levels vs. a player pool drawing from 30 NAIA/Div II schools. It’s all math. Russia vs the Baltic States in 1940.