OK, CIS football fans, it's time to reevaluate some of your dearest held myths about the league. They died Sunday. Let us embrace the new reality.
Well, there were two in particular that fell. In the early game, the fallacy of Canada West superiority was put to rest in, oh, about three minutes during Laval's destruction of western champs Calgary.
For years the assumption has always been that what happened west of Kenora was just a little bit better than what occurred anywhere else in the country. The fourth place CanWest team could win the Yates was always the thinking on various CIS football discussion boards. Even a long Vanier-less slump that just ended last year couldn't shake the believe that the west was best.
Benoit Groulx was pulled at half. The Uteck Bowl had turned into a mid-season Queen's - York game. It was ugly. It was unclear whether Calgary would have made the playoffs in Quebec. The power in Canadian university football has now undoubtedly shifted from the prairies to La Belle Province.
But, the west's fall was just half of the day's surprises. The other myth turned on its head (do myths have heads? Hmm...) was the ole' OUA bye.
Yes, SMU had a couple calls go against them, but the better team won. And, that team was from Ontario. The CIS whipping boy is now 3-2 in its last five out of conference playoff games. Not much of a "bye" is it?
There has been a couple changes the last few years that may have lead to yesterday's results. Probably the most important factor is that Ontario started to pay a little more attention to the scoreboard. It's not perfect yet. There are still far too many weak sisters in the OUA. But, at least six of Ontario's programs seem serious about winning now--and not just winning the Yates.
The other factor that we may be seeing is the impact of the new junior football eligibility rules. No longer are CanWest teams dressing players in their late 20s, with five years of junior football experience behind them prior to playing a down in the CIS. Although our western friends will likely be reluctant to admit that the rule change is making it more difficult for them to compete nationally (least they admit that the junior football factories in Western Canada benefited them during the conference's glory years), it's hard not to see the correlation.
Six days to the Vanier...