|Dates||June 25 – November 8, 2015|
|Start date||November 15, 2015|
|East Champions||Ottawa Redblacks|
|West Champions||Edmonton Eskimos|
|103rd Grey Cup|
|Date||November 29, 2015|
|Site||Investors Group Field, Winnipeg|
The 2015 CFL season was the 62nd season of modern-day Canadian football. Officially, it was the 58th Canadian Football League season. The Edmonton Eskimos won the 103rd Grey Cup on November 29, defeating the Ottawa Redblacks 26–20 in Winnipeg. The schedule was released February 13, 2015 and the regular season began on June 25, 2015.
According to the new collective bargaining agreement, the 2015 salary cap was set at $5,050,000 (average of $109,782 per active roster spot). As per the agreement, the cap is fixed and will not vary with league revenue performance. The base individual minimum salary was set at $51,000.
The 2015 season schedule was released on February 13, 2015, with the regular season opening on June 25, 2015 at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montreal, Quebec. It was the first time that Montreal had hosted the season opener since the 2011 CFL season. The major complication this year was the lack of available stadium dates due to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup and the 2015 Pan Am Games occurring over the entire CFL pre-season and first five weeks of the regular season, affecting five member clubs. The BC Lions, Edmonton Eskimos, and Ottawa Redblacks played pre-season games away from their regular stadiums and in some instances, in different cities. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats did not play a regular season home game until week 6 and the Argonauts did not play in Toronto for a regular season game until week 7.
Following three straight years of intra-division matchups in the last week of the regular season (and for the last two years, those same matchups in the last four weeks), the league featured inter-division games in the last week. There was also a Sunday game in the last week of the regular season which hadn't occurred since the 2010 CFL season. This season featured seven home-and-home series, up from two from the previous year. Despite Ottawa returning to the league, they did not play the Montreal Alouettes on Labour Day weekend, which is the first time since 2002 where both teams played in the league but did not play that same weekend. There were 15 double headers this year, with four on Fridays, nine on Saturdays, one on Sundays, and one on Labour Day Monday. The league also experimented with games regularly featured on Thursday nights, with one game every Thursday for 10 of the first 11 weeks of the season. The Thanksgiving Day Classic featured just one game for the first time since 1997, which is ironic in that it was the only week of the season with five games being played. For the second straight year, there was no Touchdown Atlantic contest.
The Canadian Football Hall of Fame game took place on August 22, 2015, featuring the Saskatchewan Roughriders hosting the Calgary Stampeders. Dave Dickenson, Gene Makowsky, Eddie Davis, and Leroy Blugh were inducted as players while Bob O'Billovich, Bob Wetenhall, and Larry Reda joined as builders. Dickenson played for five seasons for the Stampeders and will be coaching in the game, while Makowsky played his entire 17-year career with the Roughriders. Davis played for five years with the Stampeders and nine with the Roughriders, winning Grey Cup championships with both teams.
On June 14, 2013, it was announced that the Edmonton Eskimos would host their 2015 preseason game at the new SMS Stadium at Shell Place in Fort McMurray against the Saskatchewan Roughriders on June 13, 2015. As part of the deal, the game was broadcast nationally on TSN, with a start time of 8:00pm MDT. The game was played here to broaden the Eskimos' fanbase and to allow Commonwealth Stadium (the Eskimos' usual home) to host 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Attendance for the game was 11,825 fans (3,175 short of a sellout).
Fort McMurray also hosted a Toronto Argonauts regular season home game. This was done due to the Argonauts' usual home stadium, Rogers Centre, being unavailable because of the 2015 Pan Am Games and Toronto Blue Jays occupying all dates in the month of July. This was the first regular season game played in Fort McMurray and is the most northerly regular season game in CFL history. The Toronto Argonauts defeated the Edmonton Eskimos 26–11 in front of a dismal attendance of only 4,900 fans (only 32.6% sold out), a low figure not seen for a regular season game since the days of the Las Vegas Posse.
Fort McMurray was also considered as a host site for the BC Lions' pre-season game against Edmonton, because they also had to vacate their stadium for the Women's World Cup, but the Lions instead opted to hold that game in Thunderbird Stadium, a much closer but smaller venue, for that contest.
On June 13, 2015, the Ottawa Redblacks and the Montreal Alouettes played a preseason game in Quebec City, at the 12,257-seat Telus Stadium. Like other venue changes early in the season, this was to accommodate the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. This was the second time an Ottawa CFL franchise played a preseason game in Quebec City; the Renegades played the Alouettes in front of 10,358 fans at Stade PEPS (now Stade TELUS-Université Laval) on June 7, 2003. The Montreal Alouettes defeated the Ottawa Redblacks 29–6 in front of 4,778 fans.
Following the 2014 season, the BC Lions parted ways with Mike Benevides, who had been the head coach of the Lions since 2012. In those three seasons, Benevides posted a record of 33–21 in the regular season and 0–3 in the post-season. The Lions hired Jeff Tedford as their new head coach. Tedford played quarterback in the CFL in the 1980s and was the head coach of the University of California football team from 2002 through 2012. On August 21, 2015, Alouettes ownership relieved Tom Higgins of his coaching duties and brought general manager Jim Popp to the bench for the fourth time.
Nearing the end of the 2014 CFL season, Mark Cohon announced that he would be stepping down from his position as CFL commissioner. Cohon had been the CFL commissioner since 2007, which was the third longest tenure in league history. On January 9, 2015, his term came to an end and Jim Lawson (the chairman of the CFL's board of governors) became the interim commissioner while the CFL's board of governors searched for a new commissioner. On March 17, 2015, Jeffrey Orridge was announced as the new commissioner of the CFL. Orridge assumed office on April 29, 2015. Most recently, Orridge had been employed by the CBC as their Executive Director of Sports and General Manager from April 2011 to March 2015.
Two of the principals of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (Kilmer Sports and Bell Canada) announced its intent to acquire the Toronto Argonauts prior to the 2015 season, acquiring the team from BC Lions owner David Braley and ending the last remaining cross-ownership situation in professional football. (The third principal of MLSE, Rogers Communications, declined to acquire a stake. Because Bell already owned exclusive TV rights to the entire league and radio rights to the Argonauts, Rogers had no interest in buying a stake in a team that it could not broadcast.)
The sale means that 2015 will likely be the last season for the Argonauts in the Rogers Centre, where the team has had difficulties selling tickets; as soon as 2016, the team will move to MLSE-operated BMO Field, currently a soccer-specific stadium, which will be renovated to accommodate the CFL. The Argonauts were forced to move some home games out of the Rogers Centre because the Toronto Blue Jays, primary tenants of the Rogers Centre, made the playoffs in 2015. MLSE and Braley pursued backup plans in the event the Blue Jays have to schedule playoff games on weeks the Argonauts are set to play; the team considered stadiums such as Tim Hortons Field in Hamilton, Alumni Stadium in Guelph, and even UB Stadium in Buffalo, New York, USA as potential venues but ultimately rejected all of them, opting to play their October 6 home game against the Ottawa Redblacks in the home stadium of their opponent because it was "CFL-ready and TV-ready." The Argonauts would move their October 17 and 23 home game to Tim Hortons Field.
This was the eighth season in which The Sports Network maintained an exclusive partnership with the CFL for television rights. Beginning this season, TSN branded its Thursday night broadcasts as Thursday Night Football (unrelated to the National Football League package of the same name) and featured a more entertainment-oriented focus.
The Hamilton Tiger-Cats ended their longtime relationship with former flagship radio station CHML, the team's home continuously since 1984 and intermittently since 1950, and began a joint venture with crosstown rival CKOC. The Tiger-Cats/CKOC venture saw that station (at the time carrying oldies/classic hits) transformed into Hamilton's first all-sports radio outlet, carrying TSN Radio programming.
In March the CFL's Rules Committee submitted a variety of rule changes to the Board of Governors be implemented for the 2015 season: On April 8, 2015, the league's Board of Governors approved most of the proposed changes.
The East Division finished with a collective record of better than .500 for the first time since 2004.
On November 27, 2015, two days before the 103rd Grey Cup game, the CFL introduced its newest logo, its fourth in league history: A silver football-shaped design, with three laces signifying the three downs used in Canadian football on top, 'CFL' in block letters in the centre, and a half maple-leaf on the bottom. It replaces the 'leaf/football' logo that had been used since 2002.
Teams play eighteen regular season games, playing two divisional opponents three times and all of the other teams twice. Teams are awarded two points for a win and one point for a tie. The top three teams in each division qualify for the playoffs, with the first place team gaining a bye to the divisional finals. A fourth place team in one division may qualify ahead of the third place team in the other division (the "Crossover"), if they earn more points in the season. If a third-place team finishes in a tie with the fourth place team in the other division, the third place team automatically gets the playoff spot and there is no crossover.
If two or more teams in the same division are equal in points, the following tiebreakers apply:
Note: GP = Games Played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, PF = Points For, PA = Points Against, Pts = Points
Teams in bold are in playoff positions.
|Winnipeg Blue Bombers||18||5||13||353||502||10||Details|
For the first time since the 1983 season, all three of the CFL's Ontario-based teams qualified for the playoffs. The Eskimos won their 14th Grey Cup championship in franchise history, and their first since 2005. Mike Reilly was named Most Valuable Player after completing 21 of 35 pass attempts for 269 yards with two touchdown passes. He was also Edmonton's leading rusher at 66 yards. Shamawd Chambers, who missed the majority of the 2015 season with a knee injury, received the Dick Suderman Trophy as Most Valuable Canadian.
Main article: 103rd Grey Cup
103rd Grey Cup
Investors Group Field – Winnipeg
|E3||Toronto Argonauts||22||E1||Ottawa Redblacks||35|
|E2||Hamilton Tiger-Cats||25||E1||Ottawa Redblacks||20|
|W3||B.C. Lions||9||W1||Edmonton Eskimos||45|
The CFL changed their weekly awards format beginning with the 2015 season. The CFL now awards the top three players on performance, regardless of position or nationality. They also continued to award players on a monthly basis based on their performance within a set month.
|One||Trevor Harris||Jeff Fuller||Drew Willy||Drew Willy|
|Two||Rakeem Cato||Ryan Smith||Trevor Harris||Ryan Smith|
|Three||Travis Lulay||S. J. Green||Weston Dressler||Weston Dressler|
|Four||Shakir Bell||Jon Cornish||Marcus Howard||Shakir Bell|
|Five||Henry Burris||Aston Whiteside||Chris Williams||Henry Burris|
|Six||Drew Willy||Patrick Watkins||Marquay McDaniel||Drew Willy|
|Seven||Emanuel Davis||Andrew Harris||Keith Shologan||Emanuel Davis|
|Eight||Bo Levi Mitchell||Zach Collaros||Eric Norwood||Bo Levi Mitchell|
|Nine||Mike Daly||Zach Collaros||Terrell Sinkfield||Zach Collaros|
|Ten||James Franklin||Kendial Lawrence||Derel Walker||James Franklin|
|Eleven||Zach Collaros||Charleston Hughes||Terrell Sinkfield||Zach Collaros|
|Twelve||Mike Reilly||Jeremiah Johnson||Adarius Bowman||Jeremiah Johnson|
|Thirteen||Henry Burris||Chris Rainey||Stefan Logan||Henry Burris|
|Fourteen||Macho Harris||Marquay McDaniel||Derel Walker||Macho Harris|
|Fifteen||Henry Burris||Jonathon Jennings||Mic'hael Brooks||Henry Burris|
|Sixteen||Trevor Harris||Jeff Mathews||Emmanuel Arceneaux||Jeff Mathews|
|Seventeen||Adarius Bowman||Henry Burris||Brandon Smith||Adarius Bowman|
|Eighteen||Adarius Bowman||Henry Burris||Mike Reilly||Henry Burris|
|Nineteen||Derel Walker||Shawn Lemon||Mike Reilly||Shawn Lemon|
|Twenty||Henry Burris||Greg Ellingson||John Bowman|
|July||Trevor Harris||Marcus Howard||Rakeem Cato|
|August||Zach Collaros||Derel Walker||Eric Norwood|
|September||Henry Burris||Chris Rainey||Jamaal Westerman|
|October||Henry Burris||Mike Reilly||Adarius Bowman|