(Blog buddy Mike Radoslav has organized a "Fans' Top 10" which will be posted here each week. It's not meant to be definitive, but to stir a little debate. You can compare it with the coaches' and media poll.)
University football fans across the nation have compiled a Preseason Top 10 heading into 2009 and a team quite familiar with the pole position leads the charge.
The Fans' Top 10 committee is a 30-member voting panel consisting of fans, ex-players and a few members of the media representing each conference. The consensus is that the Laval Rouge et Or (#1) will be the dominant program in the nation.
The defending Vanier Cup champions received every first place nomination as Laval hopes to defend that national title at home this season. Returning many of their players from last season, including Hec Crighton-winning quarterback Benoit Groulx, many believe the Rouge et Or is the favourite to repeat. Their dominance in this preseason poll reflects that opinion.
The Vanier Cup finalist Western Mustangs (#2) claim the runner-up position as they hope to exact some revenge this season and claim the title they narrowly missed last year. Western has made some key improvements to their team via recruits and transfers in the offseason. With fifth-year QB Michael Faulds heading into his final season, the Mustangs hope to send their team leader out on top.
After that the ranking gets a bit congested as western rivals Saskatchewan Huskies (#3) and the Calgary Dinos (#4) find themselves separated by only a single vote. And close in pursuit of those two are the Saint Mary's Huskies (#5). There is uncertainty about who is the favourite out West, the Huskies or the Dinos, however voters still believe that SMU remains the program to beat in the Atlantic.
The Concordia Stingers (#6) take the next position; the runners-up in Quebec last season who almost squeaked out an upset win at the Dunsmore Cup at Laval. Following them are the Queen’s Golden Gaels (#7), looking to exact some revenge for a season they believed ended too soon last year. And the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks (#8), a young team which came on strong towards last season and hopes to carry that surge over into this campaign.
The Montreal Carabins (#9) take the ninth position and rounding out the Top 10 are the Hardy Trophy finalist Simon Fraser Clan (#10).
Before the season begins anything can happen, however with the first game only a few days away the fans believe that these are the teams to watch in 2009.