Toronto Argonauts open training camp with questions both on and off field

General Manager Michael Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts talks to a player prior to a game against the Ottawa RedBlacks at BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images)
General Manager Michael Clemons of the Toronto Argonauts talks to a player prior to a game against the Ottawa RedBlacks at BMO Field. (Photo by John E. Sokolowski/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Argonauts will take to the field at the University of Guelph to open training camp ending a long wait for CFL football.

When Toronto Argonauts players and coaches walk out of the tunnel at Alumni Stadium at the University of Guelph, you can bet there will be an overwhelming sense of joy when you consider what the past year and a bit has been like for them.

Not only was an entire year taken away as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but there were still doubt about a season in 2021. Now that those concerns are finally in the rearview, the focus can go directly to the field.

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At first glance, the Argos have gone through several changes followed by even more moves in a time where teams went through two free agency periods and two drafts. There was arguably no other team that made more headline-making moves than Toronto but now is when the real work begins.

This is a moment Ryan Dinwiddie has had more time to prepare for than most rookie head coaches. It wouldn’t surprise many if the coach wanted to hit the ground running but in a recent zoom call with reporters, the first-year coach admitted that he’ll spend the first few days teaching.

It’s not surprising to see this approach considering there is a lack of familiarity between the players and coaches. However, there are established relationships that should help a bit in that regard but the head coach also made it clear that jobs have not been given heading into camp.

On paper, this is a roster capable of being a contender in the East and at this point, fans will take anything better than the back-to-back 4-14 seasons that led to a major overhaul.

Looking at the training camp roster, it’s easy to lose track of all the additions and subtractions of the roster which we’ll provide a breakdown for over the next few days.

Toronto Argonauts, XFL speculation not going away anytime soon

While the CFL made it clear that any plans to collaborate have been put to the side, that hasn’t stopped people from bringing Toronto’s role in everything.

As Dan Ralph of the Canadian Press reported, Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment was a big supporter of a collaboration with the XFL. If you were following the reaction on social media anytime the XFL was brought up, fans weren’t too keen on what that meant for the CFL going forward.

This was made clear with the Edmonton Elks’ statement saying it was pleased that the CFL announced a break in talks.

It’s certainly not a coincidence to see that response from Edmonton and it certainly suggests that not everyone was on board with the CFL pursuit of a joint venture. The part that definitely sticks out is the idea of the Elks remaining commited to, “our treasured brand of Canadian football.”

So what exactly does this man for Toronto? Ralph seemed to indicate that MLSE could look at a couple of options with the team which would be to sell the team by the 2022 season in order to join the XFL in 2023.

This is not something the league or the team should want on its plate as they try to get fans reinvested in the league this season. It’s clear that this pandemic showed that the current business model of the CFL needs to change in order to be more sustainable.

However, if there isn’t a cohesive approach with the nine teams at the table then it’s tough to see the league coming together to help the bigger markets pull out of their struggles.

The CFL shouldn’t want MLSE to sell its stake in the team considering how tough it has been to find steady ownership and the impact the pandemic would even have on potential interest. It’s unfortunate that this type of news is coming out when there should be excitement about football coming back in Canada.

Next. Argonauts, CFL have prime opportunity with 2021 season. dark

What are your thoughts heading into training camp? Do you think the Argos will improve with all the changes made on the roster? Let us know in the comments below.