Monday, December 14, 2009

CIS football: Flawed Hec Crighton process burned Brannagan more than Faulds

At least one media outlet is echoing our sentiments about how the Hec Crighton Trophy winner is picked, even if was prompted solely by their guy not winning. Chalk that up as a win.
"Eight coaches select the winner of the Hec Crighton Award.

"They are normally the bosses of non-playoff teams and they're flown in together to pore over highlight packages and mountains of stats and then pick the most outstanding player in Canadian university football.

"There is plenty of information to digest.

" ... But nothing videotaped or calculated properly tells the story of what Ontario's Crighton nominee — Western quarterback Michael Faulds — accomplished this season.

"The Mustangs leader managed to become the Canadian career passing king.

"He led his team to two playoff wins, and in his third straight Yates Cup appearance, came within one score of knocking off the eventual Vanier Cup champion Queen's Gaels in Kingston."

"And he did it all, remarkably, on one leg.

"Faulds is currently in recovery from knee surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus damage he suffered during Western's Homecoming loss to McMaster on Oct. 3."
The Free Press is on a good track. They just arrived at the wrong conclusion.

CIS could better market the award and come up with a better way to select a winner.

It should not be up to active coaches. There should be a panel — media, ex-coaches, past winners, CFL scouts, the more engaged sports information directors. There could be a fan balloting component to help determine a 10- to 12-player longlist, which the experts would whittle down to a three-man shortlist (and if two or all three play in the same conference, so be it). The winner could be presented during Vanier Cup week.

Having coaches "pore over highlight packages and mountains of stats" is fraught with issues. Naming the four finalists when the season is only 75% over creates problems — which is something the Free Press did not properly acknowledge.

This borders on fanbole when the Freep says nothing may be "calculated" and introduces Faulds' undeniably heroic post-season play into evidence.

The Hec is based on the regular season. Did they forget there was another quarterback who also had a decent playoff run?

If anyone deserved better, it might have been Queen's Dan Brannagan. True story: Queen's had a quarterback who guided his Golden Gaels past three teams whose QB was Hec-nominated and was not even second-team all-Canadian. Queen's also has a potential first-round pick in the CFL draft, Shomari Williams, who did not get so much as a second-team OUA selection.

As far as "calculated" goes, Rob Pettapiece said Faulds was a deserving OUA nominee. It's also a contradiction to say stats don't matter and then note Faulds is "Canada's career passing king." Even with the knee injury, Western's emotional and spiritual leader was more productive and proficient in the regular season than the Golden Gaels' Brannagan. However, Rob also said the eventual honouree, Calgary's Erik Glavic, was the most deserving of the quarterbacks who were nominated and was ultimately the one to vote for. Brannagan was not in that discussion.

As for bringing the playoffs into the discussion, thanks for lifting our talking point (from Oct. 30):
"Trouble is, the OUA announces its nominee before the Yates Cup and someone cannot be an anything of the year in a CIS sport unless he/she has already won the honour at the league level. How can you hold Brannagan not having (a) championship cachet against him when he could still help his team win one?

"... The OUA making the choice before the league final is doubly bad when it's tied with the one-nominee-per-conference rule, which has been irksome for a long time. If the nominee's team gets knocked out, then the other player has no chance to build his case." (emphasis mine)
Not that that is exactly what happened over the next five weeks. Just as time ran out on Faulds in the Yates Cup, the Crighton clock was stopped just when Steely Dan Brannagan was getting into a groove.

A badly designed selection process increases the possibility of a dubious selection. Glavic was a good pick, but Brannagan was left out. Good to see some others pointing this out, regardless of motivation. The way Faulds sacrificed his knee was awe-inspiring, as The Man himself said:
"You would hear people after the Mac game say Faulds is banged up, Western is vulnerable, but if you're in your fifth year and you've already used that last season of eligibility, you have two choices: pack it in or suck it up."
Faulds did everything he could. No one will forget what he did, like Ryan Pyette puts it, "... that game at Queen's will be the lasting memory of Faulds' career at Western. He kept dragging himself out there for another shot to help his team win."

If we didn't know better, some would say that implies Western won the Yates Cup. Regardless, the way the Hec is picked has to change. It would spark more debate, help with media coverage and it might even be fun. More people need to start beating this drum, on principle, not out of hometown media bias.

(The Score's D.J. Bennett is an ex-teammate of Faulds, so it is acceptable to rally to his cause. It is OK to show the fan side that led him to become a media guy once in a while.)

Faulds deserved better; Mustang quarterback's greatest accomplishments not on film or paper (Ryan Pyette, London Free Press, Dec. 10)

1 comment:

Big V said...

When they say "pore over highlight packages" i'd say thats an understatement. The all canadian highlight tapes consist of 10 plays... a 3 minute clip of the entire season. How can you determine the best player in Canada from 10 plays?

Obviously stats come into consideration, but you need to see the people play. Stats dont tell you that 80% of the passes that a QB completed were 5 yard hooks. Stats dont show how a QB has the ability to thread the needle through 4 sets of arms.

Also, the people that are "Judging" the HEC Creighton have loosing teams... perhaps their judgment isn't all the great as it is.

Lastly I agree the media should have a part in deciding the awards, however the lack of coverage in the CIS kills that idea instantly. How can someone in Ontario decide how good the kid out of UBC is, when you can never see their games.