Football: Revived Ravens would run on Laval model

Being on vacation last week meant missing a couple stories, not the least of which is that details are emerging about Carleton bringing back football. The Landsdowne Live group, which is aiming to redevelop Ottawa's downtown stadium over some opposition, wants to work to place a privately funded Carleton team in the new stadium. Quoth John Ruddy, one of the Lansdowne Live leaders (and a former Ravens defensive back):
"The Ravens would utilize our professional training facilities, they’d play in a new, fan-friendly stadium and they’d leverage our marking and operations staff ... At the end of the day, I think those elements would benefit recruiting and player development and fast-track success on the field."
In other words, the Ravens would run on a model similar to Laval and Regina in football and Lakehead in hockey. CFL commissioner Mark Cohon said recently that Ottawa will come back into the pro league in 2012. Three years is enough lead time for Carleton to prepare the proper exploitation for a football revival. A dual launch in '12 would be sweet, eh.

Their operation would be fairly stand-alone.
"The next step for both groups, along with any other potential donors or partners, is to put together a solid business model that would fully fund a football program through outside sources. Once that model is on paper, the school would then have to apply to Canadian Interuniversity Sport for permission to field a team."
Other questions which hang off this are:
  1. How does this affect the Ottawa Gee-Gees, who play at Lansdowne? As an user noted, the Gee-Gees would not want to play at a stadium run by a group which is putting its fundraising and marketing expertise toward their cross-town rivals. It would be similar to the situation where Waterloo used Laurier's stadium for many years, the irony here being that the Gee-Gees have been a powerhouse while Carleton was an also-ran more often than not.

  2. Carleton coming back could be taken to mean another OUA school is exploring starting a football team to bring the conference to even 12. Not to play coy, but feel free to speculate away about who might be that school.
David Naylor, The Globe & Mail's football writer, also blogged on it:
"... The revitalization of Lansdowne starts to look less like the building of a home for a CFL team and more like the construction of a community asset that will be used for two sports at both the amateur and professional levels.

That is surely the message the (Jeff) Hunt group wants to get out in advance of city council vote scheduled for Aug. 26."
Carleton aims for return of football (Terri Saunders, Sun Media, June 25)

(Cross-posted to Out of Left Field.)
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  1. I hear U of T and York are both considering starting football programs ;)

  2. Since the inception of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology,or UOIT, it has been said that they would eventually field a football team.

  3. @8:28 p.m. You're the first one to make that joke ... today.

  4. Would be interesting to see a QC division football team located in Hull (Gatineau) at the UQO. They are just finishing building a new stadium . That would really cut into the number of available players, knowing that the Gee Gee's picks a lot on the other side of the river...

  5. UQO would have at least two things working against it, though: it's pretty small (not everyone can be Bishop's) and there's a fairly successful program across the river.

    Granted, the Gee-Gees, despite uOttawa's bilingualism, are probably more anglo-friendly than the other way around, so UQO might have success there.

    Could Brock join the OUA? I was thinking Ryerson (~20K undergrads), but they haven't exactly set the world on fire in basketball and hockey so far.

  6. The other interesting thing about Carleton reviving its football program is that the QUFL could go from 6 teams to 8 with UOttawa also joining. I don't think UQO is really considering starting a football program. I believe UQAC is ahead in its reflection.

  7. For God's sake, for the CIS to return to competitive football and leave the sad state of affairs in which it currently languishes (to wit: "Laval and the 26 Dwarves"), the CIS needs a couple of French schools to join.

    Adding a team (or teams) in the OUA dilutes an already diluted talent pool.

    The gap between Laval and the rest of the league is something woefully under-discussed amongst CIS fans. And that includes fans who post on this site.

  8. Hey, that would be a good post, "How do you solve a problem like Laval?" Your point is good. We don't talk about it enough.

    The best explanation I can give you is that part of our job is to call attention to the less publicized stories. Just saying, "Man, Laval is so much better than everyone," does not do much to turn people on to CIS football. Here's a couple other reasons:

    (a) I'm not sure how you do solve the Laval issue. It's no one's fault today that the highers-up back in 1994 mis-anticipated how football was about to take off in Quebec. Looking back, you wonder if the CIS admin took them lightly.

    (b) As I wrote three years ago, Laval is playing fair. Twenty-five other schools are not by not going for it.

    (c) Have they really been bad for the game? I'm not really sure. They give everyone something to shoot for. They're like the Yankees were in baseball 10 years ago, masters of a flawed system.

    (d) It is curious that Laval wins 5 Vaniers in 10 years and it's a problem, but Carleton wins 6 men's basketball titles in 7 years and no one says the CIS no longer offers competitive basketball.

    Anyway, you raise a good point. At some point, we'll have to hammer out a way to have a top tier for the schools who want to make a commitment to football, and the Yorks and Mount As who see it as a healthful student activity.

  9. I agree Laval is dominant but adding more French universities is more complicated than just tell CIS. A football program is expensive to create and run, and the only two Quebec universities that have a sufficient student pool to afford it in my opinion are UQAM (49,000) and UQTR (11,000).

    Now go and convince them to invest in a football program instead of a new laboratory or student apartments! Especially UQAM, which is located in downtown Montreal with no possibility to build a stadium anywhere near and whose professors will immediately go on strike if they learn the university management chooses to put money into football instead of rising their salaries...

  10. Yes, there is no quick fix for Laval's dominance.

    And, unlike others, I don't see their dominance as a good thing for the health of the CIS: a team should not win the natonal championship with zero offence (an offence that made Dilfer's Ravens look like the '97 Argos), as Laval did in '04, nor should they win in rebuilding years, as Laval did in '06.

    Furthermore, this talk of "Laval playing fair" (open to debate - from stuff I've heard over the years I'm not at all convinced) and other schools not implementing the so-called Laval model is a bit of a red herring.

    There are schools with the resources to implement the Laval model, but could never pull it off because of resistance from their university administrations and even their own athletic departments.

    On the other hand, there are schools whose adminstrations would get behind the implementation of the Laval model, only to find they lacked the resources to implement said model.

    As for the Ravens dominance in basketball, there are fundamental differences between the two sports which makes Carleton's stranglehold on CIS titles much less troubling than Laval's on football.

    I'll exhume this post in late Novembver - I'm all but certain Laval will win it all again. Not good to be so sure of such in June...and I'm sure.

  11. Forget about UQAM, there debt is bigger than 98% of the towns in Canada. Starting a football program at this point would look ridiculous...

    I can live with either UQTR or UQO, but I don't think the best players would choose 3-R over Qc city...

    You have one university which is not related to Montreal or Qc and it's Sherby, and even if they are the only choice (French) other than Qc and Mtl, they still have to prove that they can shake le Rouge & Or (They have never won against the UL team). If you dilute the talent that goes to Sherby by opening another program in 3-R or Chicoutimi, you will only be a nuisance to Sherby, not to Qc city.

    All this discussion is a bit futile as we're gonna beat the R&O as they visits us October 3rd and repeat it at the Dunsmore cup in Qc city in November... lolll

  12. UQAM was nearly bankrupt last year. Ain't happening there.

    Three Rivers is interesting because of its geographical location and the fact they had football before.

  13. Chances are Laval will win it all this year since most of its offensive top guns are coming back, including Groulx (QB), Levesque (RB), Feoli (WR) and Milo (K), while the defense will once again be solid even with Legare gone to the Argonauts. However, games are played on the field and surprises can happen. Also, I wouldn't bet my pay on 2010 with a new QB at the helm once Groulx graduates... This will be the Carabins' best opportunity!

    You'll have to explain me what are the "fundamental differences between the two sports which makes Carleton's stranglehold on CIS titles much less troubling than Laval's on football", other than football is played with 12 players and basketball with only 5...

    In my opinion, Laval's dominance has definitely been good for CIS football, by raising the bar. Just look at the growing number of CIS players drafted by the CFL and the dwindling number of Quebec players going to the NCAA. Of course those who can't (or don't want to) compete often don't see it that way...

    I agree with Deuxfans that starting a new program in Trois-Rivieres or Chicoutimi would temporarily hurt Sherbrooke, but with the ever increasing talent pool in Quebec, I think a new balance would be established in the mid term.

  14. Here's a comment we put on Capital region Football blog on the Laval matter:

    Very interesting article and comments, the only point that we would like to put the spotlight on… is over and above everything else, the success of a team depends more on its recruitment than on their financial success.

    And when you have the winning ball rolling in your favor, you can get the best players because they want to be in a winning team, win Vanier Cups, and because you win, you get to be the coach of the national junior team where you can “sell yourself” to the coming best players…

    And we add here: We're getting close of the second phase of Laval's domination, with their success there a lot of young athletes in Quebec region who now choose football (instead of hockey or soccer) and dream of playing football for the team they see and admire, giving the R & O a privileged recruitment they will cash on for many years to come...

    But it's all fair and other teams will have to increase their preparation (and maybe get a break here and there) to match UL.