Gee-Gees: There's probably a good story to be had about the conspicuously high number of fifth-year transfers seem to be popping up on CIS football rosters.
It's not clear what grounds there are to oppose a football player using a fifth year of eligibility after playing four years somewhere else, as long as he is in school for the right reasons. Most of you lot would probably start squawking about, "Where's the loyalty?" and these brave young men putting their bodies on the line once a week for the ol' school colours, but beyond that, what have you got? Schools which don't offer a lot of post-graduate degrees -- Laurier, Guelph -- might have reason to be ticked off.
Cornerback Nial Both who last played football in 2006 at Saint Mary's (he started out at Laurier), is due to begin practising with the U of O this week. He's the second former Huskie to sign on with the Gee-Gees, along with wideout Ron Kelly, who's in his fourth year of eligibility.
As you probably know, the Gee-Gees have added receiver Ivan Birungi, centre Sean O'Donnell and linebacker-end Ian Hazlett, each of whom made all-Canadian or all-conference during his four seasons at another school. Elsewhere in the OUA, defensive back Jon Hood and tailback Marvin McCooty, who each played at St. FX, are now with Western and Waterloo, respectively. Ottawa native Joseph Mroue is also at Sherbrooke after four seasons at Montreal.
The feeling here is that to some extent, you have to squash the feeling that this has the sickly scent of opportunism -- guys going to a school that offers them the chance to be on a winner. (McCooty, by going to Waterloo, is obviously an exception.)
Life is not that cut-and-dried and for the most part, there's no knowing what factored into each individual's decision. People in general have become more transient in their working and personal lives. It's considered a milestone when you stay in the same job in the same city for two years. Sports is no different, even in a last bastion of amateur sport such as the CIS.
That being said, the glut of transfers is definitely newsworthy. Also, no one is expecting to see Hazlett and O'Donnell stand with their former Queen's teammates and sing an a capella version of Imagine instead of the national anthem before the Ottawa-Queen's game in Kingston on Oct. 11.
The point is, it's nothing to get riled over. It's just reality.
Golden Gaels: The football Gaels are in the top 5 of the CIS Top Ten for the first time since the dizzying highs of the Tom Denison era. They face Laurier on Saturday on a day when Queen's is honouring the 1968, '78 and '83 championship teams.
Given the magnitude of the day, Queen's has a real challenge to stay loose and full of swagger and not come out tighter than Cindy McCain after her last facelift. It should be a good one.
Hate to harp on this, but we need the principals to know there are people who do care. At this writing, Dan Brannagan is listed on the CIS website having passed for 1,450 yards in two games (it's actually 725, so his stats were entered twice). Small wonder a media friend of ours jokes that CIS stands for Completely Inaccurate Stats.
The Sept. 16 edition of The Hockey News has an item on Alyn McCauley becoming a Queen's hockey assistant coach (try to look the other way when the coach is ID'd as "Brent" Gibson). It's a pretty rich issue for Kingston-area hockey lovers. There's a nice photo of the Belleville Bulls goalie Mike Murphy, of Inverary, to go with the article that ranks them as the No. 1 team in the OHL and No. 2 team in Canada. (The Frontenacs come in at No. 12 in the league: "The future is bright, but the present is dim.")
Former Gaels volleyball Amanda Maze is also helping coach at Ryerson.
Ravens: The Kingston Whig-Standard has a feature today on Carleton's Kingston trio, Stu Turnbull, Rob Saunders and Aaron Doornekamp and the near-upset they helped pull off against the Kansas Jayhawks ten days ago. Stu Turnbull is as good with the quotes as his with knocking down the open shots.
Dave Smart offered a take on the inevitable hypothetical about the CIS champs going in the U.S. version of March Madness.
" 'I'm not big on those first-round games, anyway, because you play at a high level all the way through, then your reward is to go to the NCAA tournament, where you lose by 40 points to North Carolina,' mused Smart.Well-said.
"... 'You finish your season on a high note playing well, then they call it a reward to get your head handed to you by a No. 1 seed."
My stock answer about Carleton and the U.S. version of March Madness is that, at their peak, they could probably win one of those conferences like America East or the Patriot League, whose champion usually gets a 13 or 14 seed (think Vermont when it beat Syracuse in the first round in '05).