MEDIA ADVISORY: DEC. 15, 2009
Southern Ontario University Athletics (SOUA) is asking media partners to please continue referring to the Western Mustangs as defending Yates Cup champions during the coming year, although the Queen's Gaels actually won the league title before going on to capture the Vanier Cup last month.
Queen's won 43-39 on Nov. 14 in a thrilling Yates Cup that was not decided until the final seconds, as was also the case in the teams' regular-season game on Oct. 17, a 27-26 Gaels' win. Media members should understand putting focus on one team's accomplishments overlooks that Western and quarterback Michael Faulds, who played heroically with a torn knee ligament, might have been just as if not more courageous and clutch in almost winning.
"The Mustangs deserved better," SOUA commissioner George Santayana says. "It would be remiss to use the standard practice of calling the team which was ahead on the scoreboard when the clock reads 0:00 the Yates Cup champion.
"After reading a lot of the media coverage from London from both before and after the game, we recommend the media, when next season begins, occasionally slip in a reference to Western as 'defending Yates Cup champions.' Queen's will understand."
The record book will not change, Santayana stressed.
"Our aim is to subtly drive home the point it was not clear anyone lost the Yates Cup," Santayana says.
"The London Free Press offered assurance before the game that Queen's coaches had to convince their players they could win against Western's coach, the 'guy who never loses it' in the SOUA playoffs, even though the Mustangs' 1-4 record in their previous five tries vs. Queen's was more of a pertinent statistic.
"Following the game, the Free Press also reported that 'the film showed (Western receiver Nick) Trevail should have been awarded a touchdown' on a fourth-quarter catch. Whether that was true is immaterial. Most recently, it noted '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 did not know better, either that last part was poor wording or Western actually completed their comeback at some point in the past month, after the 90 players, more than a dozen coaches and 7,253 fans had continued living their lives.
"Either way, we're just trying to capture the spirit of the thing."
Many previous Yates Cups have hinged on a handful of plays and people on the losing side have accepted the result. These were exceptional circumstances.(Sometimes, you call in your cards. Fair is fair, Freeps.)
"There was risk involved in having a spotlight solely on Queen's just because it went 11-1 compared to Western's 7-3," Santayana says. "Having an academically elite school with a long football tradition, school spirit, classy coaches and well-spoken student-athletes win the Vanier Cup in dramatic fashion by prevailing in one tense game after another over great teams such as Western, Laval and Calgary and capturing the hearts of alumni, students and the Kingston community is way too much of a marketer's dream come true for Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
"We need to sit down and have a long series of meetings before we know whether a team with great fan support outplaying, outlasting and outwitting teams from Quebec and Western Canada is what we want coming to mind when people picture university football in Ontario, as opposed to picturing teams such as Windsor or U of T."
SOUA came to these conclusions after consulting extensively with media members, fans, students and university officials over the past month. Its findings were that many believe Western has unique and unchallenged status in the SOUA, although three Ontario teams have won the Vanier Cup more recently than the Mustangs, who last did so in 1994.
"When we asked fans in the Golden Horseshoe and GTA to name a team with a long tradition of winning, the most common response was Western, Western, Western, with about every 10th person saying 'the Laurier Golden Hawks!' and excusing herself or himself to do a beer bong," Santayana says.
"Many refused to believe it when shown evidence Queen's is 9-3 against Western since 2000 or that Queen's, Ottawa and Laurier, unlike the Mustangs, actually have won a Vanier Cup in this century since the Laval Rouge et Or began play. Like Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston said about Western before their first game against Queen's in October, 'We'll never lose the game, we'll just run out of time.'
"The fact Western ran out of time against Queen's this season — twice, in fact — should not alter anyone's selective memory. If Western said it just needed to make one more play at the end of each game, well, close enough."
The media are delighted by the decision.
"This is great for me," Guelph Daily Planet sports editor Knob Fassey says. "Nowhere in my contract does it say I am obligated to actually remember who won the Yates Cup just because I cover a team in the league."
Current students were largely noncommittal.
"Queen's, Western, what's the difference?" said Guelph student Dustin Funk. "They're all a bunch of preppies."
The compromise was suggested by Queen's University administration. It has dealt with having its football team be alternately known as "Queen's Gaels" and "Queen's Golden Gaels" since 2008. If one team can have two names, it would follow two teams can each be called defending Yates Cup champion.
"It wouldn't be Queen's if we weren't accommodating someone, somewhere who might have a potential issue," principal emeritus Tom Williams says. "That is how we start out aiming to please everyone and end up pleasing no one in particular.
"Allowing people to say Western is defending champion, even though we know who won the game, is analogous to how we were all too happy to change 'Golden Gaels' to 'Gaels' and claim we had not done so after we got a backlash. Or how we were all too happy to cancel homecoming and claim we had not done so since it would be just as good an event in the spring after we got a backlash there, too."
Williams adds research shows Queen's folk showed firm support, save for the odd 30-something graduate who lives alone and might have actually predicted Queen's win over Laval in the Mitchell Bowl.
By and large, though, everyone else is on board.
"People feeling it has to be all-Western, all the time, is the safe status quo," Santayana says. "Besides, accepting you were beaten fair and square and not whining for weeks afterward is un-Canadian. There, I said it."
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Faulds deserved better; Mustang quarterback's greatest accomplishments not on film or paper (London Free Press, Dec. 10)