Wednesday, November 05, 2008

CIS Corner: Far be it to listen to Laval ... kicking the realignment tires

The word out of Québec is that Laval Rouge et Or club president Jacques Tanguay is really pushing for realignment.

Laval is the best thing that ever happened to Canadian university football, so perhaps it should be heard out when it comes to ideas of how to grow the game. Tanguay, as best as can be divined via Babelfish and two high school credits in French earned half a lifetime ago, would like to see a national development plan for the university game in this country. In a general sense, speaking as a Queen's supported who is not all that enamoured with the structure of the OUA at the moment, it would be good to see the ol' alma mater, as the third-oldest program in the country, show some leadership.

The gist of Jean-François Bégin's column in La Presse is that Tanguay about realignment. Tanguay would like to see a Division 1 and growth to up to 40 teams from the current 27. He is also calling for revenue sharing that would help subsidize the smaller schools.

Queen's coach Pat Sheahan, speaking for the national coaches' assocation, cautioned that a tiered system could endanger the programs at schools such as Mount Allison and York. That is a good point. No one should push for something that means fewer students would get the chance to play.

However, if you took four upper-echelon teams out of the OUA to play in the Big East or Canada East conference, that still leaves six schools, with the possibility of Carleton or Ontario Tech starting a program in a few years. York might actually travel less in that scenario. It would likely not face Ottawa (the Lions trekked there this season -- four hours, stop laughing western readers). Similarly, Mount Allison's travel budget wouldn't be too pinched if it was in a league with Bishop's, McGill, Acadia, St. FX and maybe a new team.

It is doable. It would take a few years and a lot of finessing of various sports administrators, especially since it would not be neat and tidy. However, its time has come. Laval has changed the football landscape in Canada, and if that program has some ideas to make it better for everyone, give them a chance. And yes, the Ontario schools who have the longest histories in the game should be picking up the ball too.

À quand une division 1 canadienne? (Jean-François Bégin, La Presse)

(Cross-posted to The CIS Blog.)


Duane Rollins said...

The problem, of course, is that the idea is still widely opposed in Ontario, outside of Ottawa. Even at WLU, UWO and Queen's, three schools thatdo try and put a winning program out there every year.

My idea is this: start the season a week earlier and go a week later. Keep the conferences the way they are, but include two "open" weeks in the schedule where teams can schedule games with anyone in the country (small schools can play another game with another small team in their conference if they wish. Laval can trot across the country and play Saskatchewan). Aggressively seek a sponsor to underwrite the two open weeks so each team gets travel assistance.

At the end of the schedule the four conference champions are awarded the Yates, Jewett, hardy and Dunsmore and they each host a national quarterfinal game. They are joined by four wildcards.

Having the wildcards will piss off the purists, but it will add some intrigue to the regular season and will encourage teams to play strong opponents in the open weeks.

This yera you would have seen SMU, Laval, Queen's and Saskatchewan hosting quarters. The AUS' awful play in the interleague games would have ruled them out of a wildcard team, but, based on conference strength as best as we can measure it you probably would have seen Calgary and Concordia in as wildcards, with Western, Sherb, Montreal, Regina, SFU and WLU in the discussion for the other two spots.

Mike Radoslav said...

I think you have a great model thee Duane, I really like the idea of open weeks - could definitely settle a number of questions, and would improve every team right across the board.

I hope more teams get on board, UOIT and Carelton would be awesome additions - still confused with Brock, why not Brock?? And then of course with all the talk out with UPEI and UNB, that's very promising! I'm not sure we could ever meet the 40 mark though, that may be wishful thinking on Tanguay's part...

Mike Radoslav said...

Now, really, the only issue with this push right now goes along with the fact that just last week there was a report out in G&M describing the very tough times ahead for Canadian Universities.

To run a National Interlock we're going to need some big sponsors - and not just one either! - plus better tv coverage, as well as larger fan turnouts (which would lead to better tv coverage). I believe in giving the CIS a chance and believe it would be covered by major networks and work as well, but watching networks pull out and leave it all to The Score to pick up isn't promosing to say that's going to happen anytime soon.

Duane you're right schools especially in Ontario do not think of sports the way they do down south and therefore don't support them the same way. The schools could play a big role in changing the current mentality. But as much as Tanguay wants this to happen soon I think the reality of it all is that with the way the economy is going right now, it's likely not going to happen for a couple years anyways.

sager said...

That's a pretty good idea by Duane ...

Jordie Dwyer said...

I find the suggestion by DR amusing, considering he completely avoided mentioning the CanWest - who are notorious for shooting down anything that may infringe on their right to do as they see fit out here. (which most of the time is nothing).